Activities > Hiking Information

Hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains

backcountry hiking for hikers of all skill levels

A hiking excursion can mean many different things for different people varying from short "leg stretcher" hikes to day hikes to overnight backpack trips to multi day explorations through the isolated wilderness. One of the best ways to explore the unique richness of the Appalachian culture first hand is to explore one of the many hiking trails. The land surrounding the Parkway has what you need whether you are looking for short walks, recreational hiking or serious hiking.

One of the most popular kinds of trails on the Parkway is the loop trail. This refers to a closed circuit trail that connects a number of points of interest then rejoins the initial path and trailhead so the trail user does not cover the same ground twice. Another kind of trail is the circuit trail. This refers to a loop that originates on one trail but turns on different trails on the way back to the same starting point. Some of the Parkway trails are out and back trails which refers to a trail that leads you to the point of interest and then you follow the same trail back to your original starting point.

When To Come

The Parkway has a rich seasonal variety so trail conditions change given the time of year you visit. While any time is a great time to hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are some differences depending on when you plan to hike.

Springtime is when everything bursts into shades of green and pink and the diverse natural environment bursts into bloom. The temperatures this time of year can be cool or warm depending, but are generally mild.

Summertime brings much warmer days and the trails become rather busy with many people enjoying the wilderness.

Autumn brings cool temperatures and the amazing fall foliage the area is known for.

While many people do not hike during the winter months, there are some stunning sights to see if you can brave the cold temperatures. Frozen waterfalls are a sight to see this time of the year.

Our Favorite Spots

There are more than 100 hiking trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so there are no shortage of great places to go hiking. Graveyard Fields is a favorite hike of ours. It is a loop trail by a stream that first leads you down a paved path through a Rhododendron tunnel, down wooden stairs to a large observation platform to view a beautiful cascading waterfall and then on to 2 other waterfalls. The 3 mile trail is well maintained and easy to follow. This high, flat mountain valley offers great scenery of the surrounding looming mountains. While you're there you'll want to soak in the sun or maybe even go for a swim in the cool waters. It is also a popular spot for camping on one of the many primitive camp sites there.

For a change of pace you may want to visit the regions only urban hike, Asheville's Urban Trail.

Coming Prepared

To get the most out of your Blue Ridge Parkway hiking experience find out exactly what to expect on a hike before you begin so that you'll be prepared for what lies ahead. The hiking trails wind through the woods, meadows and mountains and you'll most likely want to bring a map with you to stay on track as it is very easy to take the wrong turn on a hike. It is also good to know whether the path is easy or if you will encounter places with rocky footing. Always bring plenty of drinking water. To get the most out of your hiking experience you should find out details such as the exact location of the trailhead, distance, elevation gain or loss, difficulty levels, and key-points along the trail before you go. It's important to craft a hike to match your interests from easy to moderate to strenuous.

Watch your step and don't reach down behind logs and rocks, and always inspect the area where you plan to sit. There are many wild animals in the wilderness including poisonous snakes, so remember to stay aware of your surroundings. Bring a friend! We do not recommend hiking alone for many safety reasons. Do not drink untreated water in the wilderness to avoid ingesting waterborne pests such as e-coli. Parkway visitors looking to hike will have a better time if they are prepared for the unique and rapidly changing conditions.