Are you looking for the best fall hikes near Asheville, NC? Check out these stunning fall foliage trails to catch brilliant Western North Carolina fall colors.
I had no idea that Asheville could be this beautiful in the fall. A native New Englander, the leaves spoiled us with stunning colors ensconced within beautiful Victorian homes filled with spooky ghosts.
Nothing could beat a New England fall, right?
However, when we first moved to Western North Carolina (WNC), we headed out along the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) looking for the best fall hikes near Asheville. The fall leaves in Asheville and along the Blue Ridge Parkway are magnificent.
Elevations sneak up pretty fast along the misty and twisty two-lane road filled with cascading waterfalls, 360-degree views, and hiking trails. The North Carolina fall colors and leaves never fail to take away our breath.
I could have driven right off the cliff and never even noticed. Take that, New England!
Where are the best Asheville fall colors hiding? Where do we love to hike around Asheville in the fall? Below, we’ll share our favorite Asheville fall foliage hikes. We’ll also tell you what to expect and when to go.
Don’t miss a gorgeous Western North Carolina fall. Let’s get started!
Don’t miss our Master Guide To Trails Around Asheville.
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14 Best Fall Hikes Near Asheville
1. Black Balsam Via The Art Loeb or Sam Knob Trails
As locals, if we had to pick one spot for gorgeous Asheville fall colors, I’d say head to Black Balsam or anywhere around this area of the BRP. It will be packed, though.
Nothing beats a Blue Ridge Parkway fall. Black Balsam and Graveyard Fields are two Asheville fall hikes that peak pretty early on. Their Western North Carolina fall colors are outstanding and slightly unbelievable.
You can hike around Black Balsam via the Art Loeb or Sam Knob Trails. If you stay on the Art Loeb Trail, the hike to Black Balsam is about 2 miles round trip.
You could also continue along the Art Loeb Trail to Tennent Mountain. We suggest good maps around this area; we use a paid subscription of the GAIA app on our Garmin.
Black Balsam Address
Black Balsam is located at Milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll find numerous lots and parking areas around multiple access points and trailheads. The main lot has basic restrooms.
2. Graveyard Fields & Loop
Located right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway past the Mount Pisgah area, Graveyard Fields is one-hour+ from Asheville. The trails boast of two unique, rocky waterfalls: Upper and Lower (Second) Falls.
You’ll find many hiking trails/runoffs here that can get a little confusing.
Lower Falls is about .4-miles from the trailhead when you take a right after the footbridge. You will need to loop back to hit the actual Graveyard Loop.
Be forewarned, heading to Upper Falls is confusing. The hike is about a 2.9 miles round trip – or so we clocked at the big intersection. We climbed the harder way up along the face of the falls.
A much harder hike, you will climb slippery rocks and have to wade through sometimes higher streams. The mud is for real after some rain.
My husband started humming the song from the NeverEnding Story. I totally felt Artax-triggered.
This beautiful Asheville fall hike also catches a view of Black Balsam Knob and intersects with the Mountains-To-Sea Trail. There are other trails around Graveyard Loop, including Graveyard Ridge Trail, which is easy to accidentally turn onto.
Graveyard Fields Address
Address: Graveyard Fields, Canton, NC 28716
Graveyard Fields is at Milepost 418.8 south of Asheville. The tiny parking lot fills up quickly. You will also find basic restroom facilities here.
Don’t miss out on the best Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes.
3. Mount Pisgah Trail
I’m pretty sure everyone knows Mount Pisgah, especially in the fall. Visitors swarm this area for hiking, picnics, cabins, and the Inn.
For a harder fall hike near Asheville, the Mount Pisgah Trail is a moderate 2.6 mile out and back. With a 750-foot elevation gain, the top peaks out at a 5,721-foot summit at the observation deck.
The rocks are slippery, and hiking poles aren’t necessarily a bad idea. Across the street, find a picnic area.
Mount Pisgah Address
Mount Pisgah is around Milepost 407.6 along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You could also pair this hike with Graveyard Fields or Black Balsam. Skinny Dip Falls is out this way.
For the best Asheville fall colors, you may also enjoy Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower.
4. Craggy Pinnacle
Craggy Pinnacle is one of the shortest fall hikes near Asheville. Many love ascending Craggy Pinnacle to catch a stunning sunset.
The Craggy Pinnacle hike is only about 1.4 miles round trip. We always take a few detours when it’s not foggy. You’ll find at least three scenic viewing areas around the top.
Fog loves to hug up on Craggy Pinnacle. Sometimes you’ll see nothing except the clouds.
The Craggy Pinnacle Trail also becomes icier late into October/early November, especially after rain. The foliage dissipates around then too.
One year, Asheville had unseasonably chilly temps in the 20s. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
We’ve hiked Craggy Pinnacle during both the fog and ice, and I promise you, it’s slippery. Wear good hiking shoes.
While a moderate hike up, at the peak you can see the Asheville Watershed, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell.
How To Get To Craggy Pinnacle
Craggy Pinnacle: 3641 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Barnardsville, NC 28709
Driving north from Asheville, Craggy Pinnacle is located at Milepost 364.1 on the Blue Ridge Parkway past the tunnel after the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center.
The lot entrance isn’t well labeled as you turn in, but you’ll see a two-tiered parking lot and signs once you enter. ‘Craggy Dome’ is the official trailhead. There are no restrooms here.
Save These Fall Hikes Near Asheville For Later
5. Craggy Gardens
A hot spot for fall hiking near Asheville, Craggy Gardens is 20 miles north of AVL.
The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center provides stunning views of the Asheville fall colors along with restrooms, snacks, and a souvenir shop.
You can even pick up multiple trails — Douglas Falls and Craggy Gardens — although parking is limited and a tad stressful.
You can also park at the Craggy Garden Picnic Area before the Visitor Center where there is an abundance of parking, charcoal grills, restrooms, and another entrance to the trails. We prefer this lot.
The main Craggy Gardens trail is just a little under 2 miles round trip with a gazebo and beautiful fields known as Craggy Flats. Of course, you’ll find flowers and heart-stopping mountain views.
Don’t forget that the temps are a tad chillier up here. The air can be at least 10-15 degrees cooler than downtown Asheville, if not more. We always recommend wearing layers.
Craggy Gardens Access Points
Craggy Gardens (not including the Dome) has two easy access points off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. One is at the Visitor Center and the other is from the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area. Mileposts 364.4-367.6 will help guide you.
6. Craven Gap
Craven Gap is pretty special and probably one of the most local fall hikes in Asheville. You won’t find a ton of breathtaking vistas here, but this trail is much more off of the beaten path.
…Unless you are Michelle and Barack Obama.
Back in 2010, the Obamas hiked here, allegedly because the trails see much more privacy and security. You can check out their visit on Blue Ridge Outdoors here.
I love the Craven Gap hike for Asheville fall foliage. The trail spits you out onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at the other end.
Encounter mini-caves, a wooden bridge, and ladder steps along with endless baby streams. To some, Craven Gap is underwhelming if you want those Craggy Garden views. To others, enjoy the local quiet.
Craven Gap is part of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail and is a little under 5 miles round trip. You can pick up other trails, too.
While moderate, the Craven Gap hike is a tad tiring as well as narrow. Follow the blaze on the trees to make sure that you are still on the trail, but truly, it’s not that confusing.
Craven Gap Access
The trailhead to Craven Gap is actually unmarked and sits at the end of a winding dirt road. Look for the off-road parking lot with a tiny staircase.
There are no facilities here so it’s just you and Mother Nature…and maybe some black bears. You will want to look for Milepost 377.4.
7. Biltmore Estate & Hiking Trails
Spying the Biltmore’s fall foliage is the perfect way to get to know Asheville. Biltmore Estate is rich in history and forestry education.
Did you know that Biltmore has over 22-miles of trails and gardens? For those looking for fall hikes in Asheville paired with wine, visitors can easily spend a day here.
Encounter walking, running, and biking trails. Some trails are as long as 3.5 miles and range from moderate to challenging.
In addition, the gardens are perfect for accessibility and are, of course, quaint and beautiful. Don’t miss our complete Asheville parks and gardens list.
In order to enter any part of the Biltmore Estate, you must have a ticket or annual pass. This goes for the winery and restaurants, too. Tickets will cost you around $60+.
8. Botanical Gardens At Asheville
Imagine 10 acres of non-profit botanical gardens with small and easy nature trails at your disposal. Talk about easy-to-access Asheville fall colors in your own secret garden.
Located near UNC-Asheville about 10 minutes from downtown Asheville, that’s exactly what you will encounter at the Botanical Gardens At Asheville.
Sure, these gardens aren’t the Blue Ridge Parkway or as vibrant, but the landscape is cozy and sweet. Plus, you can bring a picnic or a book to just chill. Hide from the crowds…
Enjoy nature walks perfect for families and couples looking for a romantic spot. During the day, the grounds are especially peaceful.
Find a literary cabin in the woods, beautiful bridges, rock formations, labeled flora and fauna, and large streams, too.
Asheville Botanical Gardens Address:
Admission and parking into the Botanical Gardens At Asheville are free. The Botanical Gardens At Asheville are located at 151 W.T. Weaver Blvd. Asheville, NC 28804.
9. Beaver Lake Perimeter Trail & Bird Sanctuary
Although a private lake in North Asheville, Beaver Lake is open to the public. Beaver Lake has sensible rules and requires a permit for dogs.
Encounter a flat, 2-mile loop around the lake and into the Bird Sanctuary. Pass quaint Asheville houses.
Perfect for leaf-spying and bird watching, like the Botanical Gardens At Asheville, bring a blanket to surround yourself with the mountains.
Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
Personally, I love that you can walk to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary & Trail from Beaver Lake or vice versa. Plus, the sanctuary is another free gem. Dogs are not permitted in the sanctuary.
Would I call their boardwalk serious hiking? No. However, you can enjoy a beautiful fall walk in nature in North Asheville.
Here, discover birds, dragonflies, and butterflies on 8 acres of land. Stay on the boardwalk and marked paths. They also host bird walks on the first Saturday of the month.
Beaver Lake Address
Beaver Lake is about 8 to 10 minutes from the heart of downtown Asheville. There is no one address for the lake but you can use the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary as an idea: 1056 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804.
Past the sanctuary, you will find small lots off Merrimon Ave. next to the lake or near the golf course.
10. The North Carolina Arboretum
Located in the southern Appalachian Mountains south of downtown AVL and off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, adventure to The NC Arboretum with botanical gardens and some of the easiest fall hikes in Asheville.
We love The NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights exhibit, which typically opens in November. Like Biltmore, we are annual passholders.
The North Carolina Arboretum Address
As of 2021, there is a $16 parking fee for personal vehicles. Visitors have access to their Bistro and be sure to check The NC Arboretum website for special exhibits.
The NC Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806.
11. Bent Creek Experimental Forest
For mountain bikers and hikers, you can also pick up The Hard Times Trail which lands in both the Bent Creek Experimental Forest and The NC Arboretum.
It is free to access the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, and there are a plethora of trails ranging in length and difficulty. You’ll also encounter Lake Powhatan and a waterfall dam.
A more local Asheville hiking and biking area, parking along the road and lots will fill up on weekends.
We love coming here to catch those vibrant Asheville fall colors without actually hopping on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Bent Creek Experimental Forest Location
Located immediately before The NC Arboretum and entrance to the BRP, look for parking around the Hard Times Trailhead at 375 Wesley Branch Rd, Asheville, NC 28806.
Grab a sandwich and sub lunch at Apollo Flame Bistro on your way out.
12. DuPont State Forest
Another one of our favorite fall hikes near Asheville: The Hunger Games waterfalls are gorgeous.
This beautiful waterfall-filled State Park does not disappoint. DuPont State Forest is about 45-minutes from Asheville.
If you park at the Hooker Falls Access Area, head straight before crossing the scenic bridge. Follow the trail about .25-miles in for Hooker Falls.
Then, loop back up over the bridge for a moderate climb to see Triple Falls and High Falls. DuPont also has a walking loop with picnic areas, a covered bridge, and a visitor center.
You can go one step further to Bridal Veil Falls, too, which is an additional 4-mile hike.
DuPont is truly one of the best fall hikes near Asheville if you are hoping to catch multiple waterfalls without a treacherous hike. DuPont Forest will fill up in the fall. Get there early.
Afterward, head to Hendersonville for the best apple orchards near Asheville or wine taste at one of Hendersonville’s delicious wineries.
DuPont State Recreational Forest Address
It is free to park at DuPont. We typically park at the Hooker Falls Access Area, which has restroom facilities. If parking fills up, you might have to drive to other lots. You cannot park on the side of the road.
13. Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock is another area seething with fall visitor popularity. Just 25 miles from Asheville, you will have to pay to enter this state park.
Head up to the top of Chimney Rock where you can either take the stairs or elevator to see views of Lake Lure.
Check out one of their numerous hiking trails that range in length and difficulty, or rest up in Chimney’s little shopping and restaurant village.
Don’t miss the hike to Hickory Nut Falls, too. Nearby, you could skip the crowds and hike Wildcat Rock to Little Bearwallow Falls instead.
Chimney Rock Address:
14. Bearwallow Mountain
You can hike Bearwallow Mountain as a 2-mile loop or out and back via its access road and forest trail. The access road is a much easier hike and is perfect for families or those carrying picnic supplies.
Since the top is a grassy meadow sometimes filled with cows, look out for their well… you know… Plan to take your trash with you.
Bearwallow Mountain peaks at 4,232-feet and is aligned with the Eastern Continental Divide. Many hike here for yoga and sunsets, too.
On a clear day, you can see Mount Mitchell, the Black Mountains, Mount Pisgah, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Hickory Nut Gorge. Views go as far out as South Carolina.
Bearwallow Mountain Address
From Asheville take I-240 to US-74 Alt East toward Bat Cave. Stay on US-74 Alt.
You’ll turn right onto Bearwallow Mountain Road and land on a gravel road, which can be rough on your car. The Bearwallow Mountain trail address is: 4854 Bearwallow Mountain Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792
You’ll see cars pulled off along the road, a metal gate, and marked entrances for Trombatore and Bearwallow. You can also hike Trombatore Trail to Blue Ridge Pastures, which is a more moderate 5-mile trek.
When Can You Catch The Best Fall Foliage Hikes Near Asheville?
Most years, the fall hits Asheville, North Carolina like sour beer hits my taste buds. One week, we see temperatures creeping into the 90s. I might sweat my butt off in that corn maze at Stepp’s Orchard.
The following week?! Sneaky fall has arrived with literally no warning along with those 40-degree evenings.
Where can you find the best Asheville fall colors?
Every year, Romantic Asheville predicts the AVL Fall Color Forecast. Peak fall foliage typically depends on the weather that season.
Usually, the third and fourth weeks of October are a solid time to catch vibrant fall colors.
Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway In The Fall In Asheville
I always feel like I am driving in Iceland with the sporadic and sometimes scarier road closures on the BRP:
- Always check with the National Park Service (NPS) before heading out on the Blue Ridge Parkway if you start seeing rather sketchy weather. Long stretches may close, which sometimes you’ll catch first on your GPS as well. Find all of the NPS closures here and look under ‘Weather,’ specifically to see if the Blue Ridge Parkway gates are closed.
- Know that the fog rolls in and out just like at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. One second the road is there and the next, it’s gone. The same goes for those gorgeous views at places like Craggy Pinnacle. I do love driving in a cloud, though.
- Many tourists will crawl under the speed limit — those winding roads are tricky if you are not used to them — so allow for extra time vs what your GPS says.
- There are a ton of overlooks on the BRP. Expect the car in front of you to dive off into an overlook lot without signaling at any given time. Please signal. Please.
- Watch for black bears and wildlife crossing the road…and people walking down random parts of the BRP when they shouldn’t.
- Also, please beware of bikers and cars going around bikers, especially on those blind turns.
- Cellular service comes in and out. Navigate the Blue Ridge Parkway with offline maps and via milepost markers.
Fall Hiking Near Asheville, NC & Need A Place To Stay? We Recommend:
Asheville, NC Hotels
Hotels and B&Bs tend to book up fast in Asheville, especially in the fall, spring, and around holidays. Make dinner reservations wherever you can, too. A few hotels to consider that either we, our friends, or others highly recommend include:
Near The Asheville Outlets/Biltmore
Hampton Inn And Suites Asheville Biltmore Area *Our second favorite pick. We stayed here before we moved.
DoubleTree By Hilton Biltmore/Asheville
Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn *We frequently stop by the Grove Park Inn for sunsets, drinks, and food.
1900 Inn On Montford
Don’t miss our Top Asheville Hotel, Resort & B&B Picks Here.
Save These Fall Hikes In Asheville For Later
Which of these fall hikes near Asheville, NC have you tried?
What are your favorite fall hikes near Asheville so far? What’s on your Asheville fall bucket list?
Are you a leaf chaser, too? What are your favorite states to see the foliage? Mine are Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. Let us know in the comments!