North Carolina is an explorer’s paradise. While there are so many options to choose from, sometimes it can be hard to pick which ones to add to your bucket list. Fortunately, we have devised a list of the most scenic trails in North Carolina.
Graveyard Fields Loop Trail
Graveyard Fields is an extremely popular hiking trail on the Bule Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. The area got its name from the tree stumps that looked like gravestones in a graveyard setting. Blueberry bushes are everywhere and picking them is a very popular activity around the middle of August. To get the berries before everyone else you’ll need to arrive early in the day, early in the season. Under Park Service rules, individuals are allowed to pick 1-gallon per day for personal consumption.
Grandfather Mountain is an iconic peak 75 miles northeast of Asheville just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. The area is called Grandfather Mountain because of early pioneers who recognized “the face” of an old man on one of the cliffs.
The easiest way to experience the mountain is to explore the family-friendly, non-profit park attraction, which provides access to the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, wildlife habits, and nature museum. Included in the park is Forrest Gump Curve, the scene is one of the many locations where Forrest runs cross-country.
Sal’s Branch Trail
Sal’s Branch is a 2.5-mile loop trail located near Morrisville that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers several activity options and is accessible year-round. Also, dogs are welcomed onto the trail but must be kept on a leash. The largest lake is Big Lake, offering canoe and rowboats rentals. Picnic grounds surround shelters with fireplaces that can be reserved.
Jackrabbit is a moderately busy trail that is located near Hayesville that features a lake and it is good for all skill levels. The trail is mostly used for hiking and mountain biking. Also, dogs are welcome onto the trail but must be kept on a leash.
Exclamation Point and Skyline Trail to Hickory Nut Falls is a 2.8-mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Chimney Rock that features a waterfall and is rated as moderately hard:
- On the way up the trail, just a short distance from the Chimney, you can catch your breath and enjoy the views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge from the Opera Box. At Opera Box you are sheltered by a rock overhang that provides a window of panoramic mountain views, while the wind and the birds provide the best soundtrack.
- The next part of the trail is the Devil’s Head. The rock was formed naturally and is a testament to the power of erosion.
- The trail continues to wind up the mountain until you reach the Exclamation Point. Here is where your hard work pays off and you can see views of the entire Rumbling Bald and Lake Lure. Secondly, you will be able to see and hear the Rocky Broad River as it migrates through the gorge to Lake Lure and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean. 20th Century Fox chose these views as the backdrop for many scenes in the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” Exclamation point is a perfect place to have a picnic and a nice rest after that long journey.
Clingmans Dome Trail
This trail has the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The “Dome” refers to the mountaintop, not the man-made observation tower.
The dome lies within both Tennessee and North Carolina. Clingmans Dome Trail is the highest point in Tennessee. Clingmans Dome, which is open year-round, can be reached by traveling Clingmans Dome Road which closes December 1 through March 31, and when the weather conditions become unfavorable due to ice or snow.
The half-mile trail is considered to be moderate because of its steep incline.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
The tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast is a premier location for kites, sightseeing, sunsets and even a hike that’ll certainly allow you to work up a sweat. Plus, there’s a view arcing from the ocean to Roanoke Sound that’s a different sight from the mountains to enjoy.