Blowing Rock Area Hiking Trails
Adjacent to Pisgah National Forest, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Julian Price Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock is the perfect place to begin your hiking adventure. Also nearby is Grandfather Mountain, the Linville Gorge Wilderness area, and parts of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. There are so many beautiful places in our backyard… what are you waiting for?
Our natural places are important to us! Please practice Leave No Trace principles while hiking to ensure they remain healthy and beautiful for everyone’s enjoyment.
Downtown Hiking to Waterfalls
The Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock offers a rugged experience just steps from Main Street! Descending 800 feet into the John’s River Gorge, the trail follows New Year’s Creek with views of three waterfalls, two of them fairly large. This 1.2 mile trail ends at Glen Mary Falls. It’s out-and-back, so the hike is 2.4 miles round trip. The trail head is located at Annie Cannon Gardens on Laurel Lane. Please note that this is a moderately strenuous, steep trail. Click here for a map.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway has so much to offer hikers. Trails vary greatly in difficulty, which means that there is something for every skill level. The Parkway provides great access to most parks and trails in the area, including Moses Cone and Julian Price Parks. The Moses Cone Carriage Trails network is in Blowing Rock, and it offers 25 miles of easy trails. They’re great year round, and excellent for cross-country skiing when there is natural snowfall. Blowing Rock is located at milepost 292 on the Parkway. These are official maps for trail networks on the Blue Ridge Parkway that are near Blowing Rock. Click to see maps and details about the networks.
NC Mountains To Sea Trail
The Mountains to Sea Trail of North Carolina is a 935+ mile trail consisting of footpaths, roads, and state bike routes from Clingman’s Dome in the Smokies to Jockey’s Ridge on the coast. The trail passes through Blowing Rock, largely following the Blue Ridge Parkway in this area. You can find details on the High Country sections of the trail near Blowing Rock by checking out Segment Five. The trail is varied here, passing along waterways and through cow pastures, and also utilizing part of the Cone Carriage Trails. Click on “trail information” on the Official Website for trail maps.
The Grandfather Mountain attraction requires a fee, but Grandfather Mountain State Park does not. To access hiking within the boundaries of the attraction for free, you must come in from trailheads outside the attraction. Hikers are required to register before hitting the trails. Access to the closest trails to Blowing Rock is less than 15 minutes from downtown.
Elk Knob State Park
Elk Knob State Park features one of the highest peaks in North Carolina’s High Country at 5,520 feet, and you can hike to the top! There are three other trails in addition to the Summit Trail, rated easy to moderate. The park has free admission and is open in all seasons. It’s north of Boone, about 35 minutes from Blowing Rock.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
Mount Jefferson is a distinctive formation, with an abrupt rise to 1600 feet above the surrounding landscape. Visitors can drive nearly to the top of the peak, experiencing long range views along the way. A network of five trails allows exploration of unique mountain habitats. The trails are rated moderate to strenuous. The park is located in West Jefferson, about 45 minutes from Blowing Rock.
The Pisgah National Forest covers 510,119 acres in four districts: the Grandfather, Toecane, French Broad, and Pisgah districts. Blowing Rock is located on the eastern boundary of the Grandfather District. Click HERE for a map of the Grandfather and Toecane districts of the forest.
Linville Gorge Wilderness trails are signed at trailheads but are not signed or blazed once inside the wilderness. This network is separate from the well-used Blue Ridge Parkway trails to the falls. You should be able to read a topographical map and use a compass. Be sure to download or take a map- phone signals can be spotty. These trails should only be attempted by experienced hikers with proper equipment! Here’s a site that offers some additional trail information.
A detailed trail map for the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area can be requested:
Grandfather Ranger District
109 East Lawing Drive
Nebo, NC 28761
(828) 652-484l / 2144
Wilson Creek Wilderness Area offers challenging trails in a rugged and beautiful setting with secluded coves, cascades and waterfalls, and plenty of tering holes for wading and swimming. Most should only be attempted by experienced hikers. The small communities of Globe, Gragg, and Mortimer are found in the area, and access is limited but fairly simple. Follow Roseborough Road or Edgemont Road from the Blue Ridge Parkway or Globe Road from Blowing Rock for the easiest routes. Despite marked roads, four-wheel drive is still recommended. A trail map is also a good idea- pick one up at a local outfitter as phone signals can be limited in remote areas.
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. In this area, the trail generally runs along the NC/TN border through the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. The Official Website for the Appalachian Trail has detailed info on the trail, as well as downloadable maps.
Related Articles About Hiking
Blowing Rock is home to several waterfalls, and there are even more to be found in the nearby region. See below for directions to more than a dozen waterfall viewing sites. Several require hiking, so they are arranged by trail difficulty. Each of these falls is...
Nestled off the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 16 minutes or 10.7 miles from downtown Blowing Rock is the Rough Ridge Lookout. Rough Ridge is just off mile marker 303 on Tanawha Trail and accessible via a wooden walkway. It offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains....
You’ve crossed Grandfather’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge and been hiking at Bass Lake, enjoyed a show at the Shaefer Center and ridden the rails at Tweetsie, and now you’re looking for more. Or perhaps you just like to find those out-of-the-way gems first. Below, we’ve...
If you want to breathe in the crisp mountain air, or witness snowy top scenery, put on your boots and head out to some of our spectacular trails. Hiking during our winter months can be a great time to explore our mountains and provides a totally different experience. ...
Friends of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) invites hikers of all skill levels to help celebrate the trail’s birthday each year in September. Join one of 33 group hikes in 27 trail towns across the state! From Cherokee to Nags Head, you'll find hikes from one to 12...