The North Carolina Mountains are brimming with beauty, and hiking through their verdant forests is an exhilarating experience.
With more than a million acres of protected forestland in each state, you can explore the outdoors without ever stepping foot into a national park or preserve; simply venture into state forest!
Discover the hidden gems of North Carolina’s best hiking trails – get ready to be amazed!
Sugar River Trail in Chatham County
This trail is an exceptional destination for those looking to venture off the beaten path in North Carolina. It offers a truly enchanting experience as it meanders along a verdant, tranquil river valley encircling mountains and wildlife sanctuaries.
I’m delighted to share with you that the Sugar River Trail boasts one of the state’s premiere hiking experiences! Its unique topography and harmonious surroundings combine excellently: from the towering mountaintops dotted with wildflowers such as Juneberries beneath; through lush forests inhabited by boisterous squirrels and other creatures alike; down to its banks where cascades of crystal clear streams flow amidst verdant carpets of grass.
Balsam Mountain Trail in Transylvania County
Balsam Mountain is a picturesque mountain range located in Transylvania County, North Carolina. This trail offers hikers an opportunity to explore a remote area of the Blue Ridge Mountains with its rustic rock formations and wildflowers blooming seasonally.
Don’t let Balsam Mountain’s modest elevation of 2,332 feet deter you: this hike is sure to delight even experienced outdoors enthusiasts with its diverse terrain featuring towering peaks alongside tranquil glens and meadows brimming with colorful wildflowers.
Begin your journey at the end of Margaret Jones Road where it intersects with U.S. Highway 141N. Along the way you’ll also encounter Route 242W as well as Jackson Hollow Road – both leading towards the north-east exit from Interstate 40.
Turkey Pen Trail in Watauga County
Just a few minutes from Boone and an hour away from both Asheville and Blowing Rock, is the coastal town of Morehead City; nestled between two barrier islands, it’s considered one of North Carolina’s most accessible destinations for hiking. If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring remote sandy beaches, there’s no better place than here!
If your trip to Morehead City coincides with the autumnal equinox, don’t miss out on checking out Turkey Pen Trail. This journey through pristine forestland provides hikers with an unforgettable opportunity to observe several species of wildflowers in their stunning glory before plunging into a tranquil pool by its side.
This trail is situated on the eastern shore of Roanoke Island and offers visitors breathtaking seascapes adorned with lush vegetation as they explore more than three miles of sandy beach.
Sugar Creek Trail in Catawba County
The Sugar Creek Trail is a delightful stroll in the heart of NC’s Blue Ridge Mountains, traversing the verdant canopy above igneous rock walls.
Upon your arrival at the trailhead, hikers will be greeted with what appears to be an inviting creek bed lined with trees as green as jade; coupled with towering peaks appearing out of nowhere while en route to Van Buren Mountain.
The hike is 2.6 miles long and takes between two and three hours; so don’t be surprised if you find yourself savoring every moment along its winding route.
Indian Creek Trail in Jackson County
At an elevation of 4,300 feet above sea level and traversing through the verdant Jackson County’s forests, the Indian Creek Trail is a scenic route for hikers wishing to explore nature on their next vacation.
Nestled amidst abundant greenery and blazes from the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC), this trek along the creek offers visitors a captivating journey through a landscape dotted with towering hemlocks and magnificent beech trees.
The trailhead lies within the tidy distance of mere minutes from quaint downtown Sylva, which boasts over 40 boutiques and restaurants alongside its plethora of antique shops that can all be explored during your stay here!
Catawba Ridge Trail in Cleveland County
If you’re seeking a refreshing hike in North Carolina, look no further than the Catawba Ridge Trail in Cleveland County. This leisurely trail offers travelers an alluring trek through pristine woodlands, serene meadows and majestic peaks all while captivating them with their captivating views!
Located just a few miles from downtown Morganton and within easy reach of its bustling shops, restaurants and other amenities, this route is ideal for those seeking respite from the rigors of daily life. The hiking trail features an invigorating ascent along a series at elevations from 650 feet up to more than 1,400 feet; providing a sense of progression as well as relaxation.
Trails of the Lost Colony in Dare County
One of the most popular destinations in North Carolina is its coastal region, where you can find an abundance of hiking trails that traverse through lush coastal lands and expansive beaches.
At Dare County’s Lost Colony Trailhead, visitors will discover one of the state’s most frequented outdoor adventures; this 11-mile trek leads them to a peaceful haven nestled beneath towering spruce trees amid verdant carpeting on the island of Roanoke. Along the way, hikers will traverse meadows, streams and glimpses into nature at their leisure before arriving at the trail’s destination – an idyllic yet alluring spot from which it is possible to observe blue ocean waters lapping against limestone cliffs.
The Lost Colony Trailhead is located about 15 minutes’ drive east of Northeast Cape Hatteras National Seashore along Hwy 12/64. It offers free parking during the summer months and is ideal for those seeking a short hike along with a memorable experience!
Black River Pathway in Watauga County
A quintessential Appalachian hike, Black River Pathway is a 5.5-mile loop that takes travelers along an exposed ridge separating the valley below from the Blue Ridge Mountains above its eastern terminus at an abandoned estate nestled within the forest canopy.
This trail connects two of the region’s most sought-after hiking destinations; however, its reputation doesn’t lie in anything other than its enticing scenery and captivating solitude. With little traffic encountered along its length – and few places to venture off-trail – this could be your one-of-a-kind outing!
If you choose to traverse further along the Black River Trail or endeavor beyond its terminus, hikers can either return via the mountain roads or continue on through the woods.
The grand vistas and secluded beaches that await you upon completion of these treks are just a taste of what lies in store if you persist through the obstacles along the way. So, don’t be discouraged! Just get ready for an unforgettable experience!