Gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes Under 1 Hour From Asheville

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We moved to Asheville because we fell in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. Our days are spent immersed in them, chasing waterfalls and enjoying picnic spots, vibrant blooms, fall foliage, and scenic views. It’s all about that eye candy. Hit the trails with our local list of the best Blue Ridge Parkway hikes near Asheville in order by mile marker. My personal favorites include Craggy Gardens, Black Balsam, and Little Butt.

View of Blue Ridge Parkway from Craggy PinnaclePin
View of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Craggy Pinnacle

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Free to access, the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is a 469-mile, non-stop, scenic and recreational road managed by the National Park Service (NPS). Known as “America’s Favorite Scenic Drive,” this two-lane parkway spans Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is filled with scenic overlooks and cascading waterfalls. For Asheville locals like us, the BRP promises many of our all-time favorite hiking trails. All lengths below are estimates from our hiking trackers, and all photos are our own. Please check the NPS site for gate closures, and keep your eyes on the weather before you go.

Mount Mitchell

Climb the highest peak east of the Mississippi River – 6,684 feet – at Mount Mitchell. One of the most popular day trips from Asheville, find numerous hiking trails and picnic spots. If you only want to see the main attraction, Summit Tower Trailhead is an easy and paved trail that’s only 280 yards long from the upper parking lot. Summit Trail also provides access to Old Mitchell Trail and the Balsam Nature Trail. At the summit, find a giant compass and informational boards naming the mountain ranges. Pair your visit with nearby Craggy Pinnacle or Craggy Gardens.

Little Butt/Big Butt

One of lesser-known and tougher Blue Ridge Parkway hikes near Asheville, find absolute quiet on the Little Butt and Big Butt Trails. With an area called “Point Misery,” you’ll accomplish one stellar workout (and get a cute butt!). Little Butt Trail is full of forest stairs – my worst enemy – and sometimes tall grass, which is Tom’s. You’ll know that you’ve reached Little Butt’s overlook when you see a quiet rock with stunning views. Continue past Little Butt for .5-miles to Big Butt, but the rest of the hike is relatively underwhelming. You’ll recognize this BRP trailhead by a small horseshoe-shaped lot. You can also pick up the Mountains-To-Sea Trail to the right of Little Butt.

Craggy Pinnacle

At Craggy Pinnacle, spy 360-degree Blue Ridge Parkway views and more of those gorgeous spring and summer blooms. A short and quick but moderate hike with a sharp incline up rocks and packed dirt, spy the Asheville Watershed, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell. Just keep in mind this trail grows slippery with rain and ice and gets narrow for passing.

If you prefer guided tours and can’t decide, consider this likely-to-sell-out BRP waterfalls hike or this scenic driving tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Craggy Gardens

Craggy Gardens has two easy access points: Craggy Gardens Visitor Center (MP 364.4) with a souvenir shop and seasonal restrooms and Craggy Gardens Picnic Area (MP 367.6) with charcoal grills, picnic tables, facilities, and plentiful parking. We most frequent Craggy Gardens for its picnic area – packing our own charcoal and burgers/hot dogs – and summer rhododendron. Hike to Craggy Flats or the gazebo for those breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountain views. This is a great hike with the entire family. It’s also one of our favorite things to do in Asheville as locals.

Mount Pisgah Trail

A more challenging Blue Ridge Parkway hike close to Asheville, we head to the ever-popular Mount Pisgah for stunning 360-degree views. One of the most recognizable mountain peaks around Asheville – you can see Mount Pisgah from the Grove Park Inn, Downtown, and Biltmore Estate – the 750-foot elevation gain is no joke. The top peaks out at a 5,721-foot summit at the observation deck. We’ve gotten caught in the rain, which can be a tad terrifying at the top with that large metal tower. It’s harder to hike down if the rocks are wet. I love this hike but my knees do not.

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower

Why would anyone submit themselves to a rickety fire tower with see-through stairs? That’s what we asked ourselves at Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower. The 360-degree views are well worth your stomach dropping unless you are afraid of heights (like Grandfather Mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge). Unlike the views, the hike itself is an underwhelming gravel road with a small parking lot. However, this was the first fire tower we ever climbed, which was pretty neat. We suggest hitting another area trail afterward.

Graveyard Fields & Loop

One of the most confusing but prettiest fall foliage hikes (and first to peak), head to Graveyard Fields for the waterfalls. Lower Falls is an easy .4 miles from the trailhead when you turn right after the footbridge. Then, for stronger hikers, loop back to pick up the full Graveyard Loop Trail to Upper Falls, which is about 2.9 miles, round trip. Climb rocks, slide through mud, and cross streams. Just be careful: Tom and I, and even our friends, get lost around here. It’s not a well-labelled area. Find pit toilets in the small parking lot that will quickly fill up in peak seasons.

Black Balsam via Art Loeb or Sam Knob

Great in any season, but especially the end of September, Black Balsam has two routes that we love and frequent: Art Loeb and Sam Knob. Both promise 360-degree views on a clear day. Jump from one trail to the other to catch each “knob.” In the summer, spy blueberries and wildflowers. Climb gentle rocks, packed dirt, and forest stairs with pit toilets in the parking lot. Continue to Tennent Mountain or along the Art Loeb Trail. We head here for breathtaking views that offer great perspective about how vast the world really is.

More BRP Hikes Over 1 Hour Away From Asheville

While the NC Blue Ridge Parkway hikes listed above make for a great weekend in Asheville or even 2 day adventure, if you have more time or live in the area, we also love these trails:

  • Grandfather Mountain (MP 305) – Grandfather Mountain is an Asheville attraction, about 1.5 hours away. Along with the popular Mile High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain is home to animal habitats, a cafe, and backcountry as well as in-park hiking trails. On your way out, spy Forrest Gump Curve, one of NC’s most famous filming locations.
  • Linville Falls & Gorge (MP 316) – As Asheville locals, we don’t usually access Linville Falls from the Blue Ridge Parkway because it adds on an additional 40 minutes. We take 1-40 East and US-221 North (1 hour and 7 mins). However you get there, Linville Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in WNC. Find a visitor center, restrooms, and a variety of hiking trails.
  • Crabtree Falls (MP 339.5) – About 1 hour 10 minutes from Asheville near Little Switzerland, this moderate 2-mile hike ends at beautiful 70 foot falls.
  • Devil’s Courthouse (MP 422.4) – Just over an hour from Asheville, this short but strenuous 1-mile hike promises gorgeous views. Watch our YouTube video on Devil’s Courthouse.

If the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed for weather – usually late fall through mid-winter – check out these more accessible winter hikes. Also, let us know in the comments your favorite Blue Ridge Parkway hikes near Asheville, and sign up for our newsletter.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.

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