The mountains and
valleys around Asheville and Hendersonville are a hiker’s paradise. Hundreds of
thousands of visitors come to this region every year just to hike and to
experience the countless trails that range from short day hikes to the world
famous Appalachian Trail.
Because of the vast territory involved for possible hiking, some
considerations should be made concerning planning and safety. For the most part, the Western
North Carolina mountains are wilderness or semi-wilderness areas. That means
there are a lot more trees and woods than people. Getting lost is a possibility
if proper planning and cautions are not taken. In order to prevent any problems,
you should always take the following precautions before venturing out into the
woods on any hike that takes you away from civilization.
1. Always check in at a ranger station or park headquarters for the latest trail
information before you leave. Trail conditions often change due to weather
conditions and knowing about any changes in advance can prevent much aggravation
later. In addition, rangers know the trails and can best advise you regarding
which trails to take, length of hikes and so on.
2. Always leave word with someone about where you’re going, when you plan to
leave and when you plan to return. In the worst case, this will insure that you
will be searched for should you not return at the designated time.
3. Always take a trail map on your hike, unless it is a short self-guided nature
trail or similar trail. Know how to read the map. Check with a local forest
ranger if you have any questions about the map and the trail you intend
4. If at all possible, never hike alone. An injury alone in the woods can be
life-threatening without someone else to assist or go for help.
5. Lock valuables in the trunk of your car or take them with you.
6. Be prepared! Do your homework before you even start out. Talk to professional
outfitters to insure that you have the right hiking shoes, equipment, food,
first aid supplies and maps. Take plenty of food and water, and cold weather
gear in the fall or spring. A cell phone is a great idea for emergencies
although don't count on coverage in some areas.
7. Never leave the trail. Even experienced hikers can get lost by taking
8. Do not drink the water in streams or springs. Bacterial diseases can be
contracted by drinking untreated “wild waters.”
Blue Ridge Parkway Trails:
Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs thru Asheville, has
hiking trails along its length that are easily accessible. Keep in mind that Asheville is located around milepost
380 and getting to milepost 260, for example, 100 miles on the park-way, will
take a good three hours driving time. One of the author's favorites is the
Graveyard Fields Trail, an easy 2-mile, which located at milepost
The local office of the U.S. Forest Service is another valuable
resource and can also answer questions you might have regarding
hiking trails in the nearby
Pisgah National Forest. Contact them at the
U.S. Forest Service, P.O. Box 7148, Asheville, NC 28802;
The choice of possible hikes is so vast that no attempt will be made to even
begin to cover what trails are available. I strongly suggest that you first
visit one of the outfitters mentioned above and start there. They will be
able to help you make some good choices based on your preferences and skill
level. These stores also have maps and books for sale about hiking in the
Another great online resource if you are
looking for hiking trails in Western North Carolina is
Asheville Trails. Eric
Champlin is its founder, a former advertising creative director with
Rob Sollie as co-founder, a former landscape architect. They started
publishing Asheville Trails (along with sister
Atlanta Trails) to share their favorite hikes with
their friends and have developed a major resource website for
hikers, backpackers and campers.
Their mission is to deliver the absolute best and most detailed info
on trails in the South and to help people find a great trail and get
the most out of every adventure. Their sites include features that
most other publishers skip: interactive trail maps, directions,
elevation profiles, original photography, and detailed trail
descriptions. And throughout their sites, they include really
important guidance on how to Leave No Trace, what to pack for each
adventure, and how to practice good trail etiquette.
Hiking & Walking Clubs:
Asheville Amblers Walking Club: Recreation walking club based in
Asheville. 85 Tunnel Road, Suite 12A-262, Asheville NC 28805.
Carolina Mountain Club: Over 175 organized group hikes every
year. The Carolina Mountain Club has been in existence for over 80
years. PO Box 68, Ashville NC 28802.
High Country Hikers:
Hiking club based near Hendersonville NC. Twice weekly group hikes.
Outdoor Stores &
Outfitters in the Asheville-Hendersonville Area:
Black Dome: 140 Tunnel Road, Asheville NC 28805, 828-251-2001.
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Downtown: 53 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, 828-771-4761
Mast General Store: 15 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville NC 28801.
Play It Again Sports (Second-hand): 611 Tunnel Road, Asheville
NC 28805, 828-299-1221.
REI: 31 Schenck Parkway, Asheville NC 28803, 828-687-0918.
Second Gear (Second-hand) 444 Haywood Road, Asheville NC 28806,
Ski Country Sports: 1000 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville NC 28804,
Outdoor Stores &
Outfitters in the rest of Western North Carolina:
Nantahala Outdoor Center: 13077 Highway 19W, Bryson City NC,
Highland Hiker: 47 Highway 107 South, Cashiers NC 28717.
Fontana Village Adventure Center, 300 Woods Road, Fontana Dam NC 28733, 800-849-2258.
Bluff Mountain Outfitters: 152 Bridge Street, Hot Springs NC
Appalachian Outfitters: 104A Tennessee Street, Murphy NC 28906,
Mast General Store: Other locations in Boone, Waynesville,
Hendersonville and Asheville. Highway 194, Valle Crucis NC 28691.
West Jefferson: Mountain Outfitters:
102 South Jefferson Avenue, West Jefferson NC 29694. 336-246-9133.
Expedition & Guide
Slickrock Expeditions: Slickrock Expeditions runs recreational
trips of backpacking, canoeing, and camping in wilderness areas
throughout the United States. Po Box 1214, Cullowhee NC 28723,
The Wildland Trekking Company: Trips out of the
Asheville area into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.