Hiking, Backpacking and Camping in Western North Carolina

We at AshevilleNow feel this section is very important, and maybe that is because we are major hiking nuts. Our Hiking, Backpacking and Camping section is under careful development, should be a wonderful resource for anyone who likes the woods, and will be put online sometime in the not to distant future. In the meantime, use the following information to make your Western North Carolina hiking experience an enjoyable one.

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Images of the Outdoors - Asheville NC

Find the Trails you are looking for...

Local Hikes: is a great "trail information" site, perhaps one of the best we have seen yet. However, the trails are jumbled into one big list and must be browsed.

Hike WNC: is a good resource for finding a hike that is right for you. This site also contains information on local outfitters, general hiking tips, camping & lodging information, and a nice photo gallery.

GORP: Like "Good Old Raisins and Peanuts," GORP is a good old trusty site that isn't perfect but isn't all that bad either.

National Forests and State Parks

Pisgah National Forest

Early summer in the Pisgah Ranger District.

The Pisgah National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts no matter what their ilk. The National Forest offers a wide range of recreating options. To mention just a few, there's hiking and back-packing, camping, fishing, biking, horse-back riding, swimming, rock climbing, car tour sightseeing, waterfalls, wildlife, historical areas, and a array of exceptional programs to choose from, including everything from lectures to guided hikes and square dancing. If you live in the Asheville Area, this is THE outdoor enthusiast’s playground location. There are so many beautiful places in this tract of nationally protected forest, that in one lifetime you couldn’t see all that it has to offer. Note: Places of Interest in the Pisgah National Forest include, but are not limited to, the Pisgah Ranger District, Cradle of Forestry, Looking Glass Rock/Falls, Mount Hardy, Pink Beds, Richland Balsam, Bent Creek, Mills River, Davidson River, Shining Rock Wilderness Area, and the Middle Prong Wilderness Area.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The US Department of the Interior says this, “No place this size in a temperate climate can match Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s variety of plant and animal species. Here are more tree species than in northern Europe, 1,500 flowering plants, dozens of native fish, and more than 200 species of birds and 60 of Mammals.” The Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides near endless opportunity to view superb mountain scenery, take photographs, picnic, or hike and backpack along the abundant trails, and delight in an almost never-ending showcase that Mother Nature provides. The Park is located due west of Asheville and can be accessed from many locations.

For more information consult our Maps of WNC page.

Cherokee National Forest

View of The Cherokee National Forest - picture provided by the USDA Forest Service

The Cherokee National Forest follows and resides amidst the beautiful and ancient ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Laying just over the state line of North Carolina into Tennessee, the Cherokee National Forest borders the Pisgah National Forest to the South and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the South West (it also continues on the Western side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee). Every year millions of people visit Cherokee National forest, for it is a place of scenic splendor that provides many opportunities for those interested in nature, history, and recreation. The Cherokee National Forest is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee, with 640,000-acres of protected land. Furthermore, because it is in the heart of the Southern Appalachians, it shares the abundant diversity of the mountain range and is home to more than 20,000 species of animals and plants. So come and enjoy this natural and world-class outdoor playground by hiking on the Appalachian Trail, fly fishing on the Tellico River, mountain bike about the Johnson City area, and running the whitewater of the Ocoee.

For more information visit their website page.

Nantahala National Forest

Cullasaja Falls, Nantahala National Forest

It is said that “Nantahala,” comes from the Cherokee phrase, “Land of the Noonday sun.” This name is an appropriate one seeing as how the sun only reaches the floor of the deep gorges and valleys of the Nantahala National Forest when directly overhead at midday. With spectacular scenery, and easy access, the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina is a Gem of WNC. Elevations in Nantahala range from lowest point along the Hiwassee River (1,200 feet) to the highest point at the summit of Lone Bald, towering at over a mile high (5,800 feet). The multitude of raging whitewater and cascading waterfalls, as well as the old growth flora give the forest a reputation for being wild and unspoiled.

Mount Mitchell State Park

View from old observation tower at Mount Mitchell.

From milepost 355.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway take NC Highway 128 to Mt. Mitchell. At 6,684 feet, Mt. Mitchell is the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. On a clear day, the 85-mile view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the observation tower is breathtaking. Allow time to hike in the tranquil 1,855-acre Mount Mitchell State Park, or enjoy lunch at the picnic area. With temperatures generally 10-15 degrees cooler than downtown Asheville, it's an ideal place to find relief from the summer heat. In other seasons, bring a jacket. There is no admission fee.

Park Hours:
November - February
March and October
April and September
May - August
Closed Christmas Day

8 am to 6 pm
8 am to 7
8 am to 8 pm
8 am to 9 pm
For more information visit the Mount Mitchell Web site.

DuPont State Forest

High Falls in DuPont State Forest - Transylvania County Waterfalls

DuPont State Forest is located southeast of Brevard, and is in what the locals call, waterfall country. This region of Western North Carolina is remarkably alluring, and with a little exploration, at any of the 250 waterfalls this area boasts, one can come to appreciate and recognize just why Transylvania County is so spectacular. DuPont is home to approximately 100 miles of trails, unforgettable waterfalls, pristine lakes, and stunning vistas. To visit many of the falls and beautiful scenes one will need to do a minimal to moderate amount of walking or hiking. From Asheville, take I-26 east to Exit 40, and then take NC-280 toward Pisgah Forest. Turn left (east) on US-64 and go 3.7 miles to the Texaco station in Penrose. Turn right on Crab Creek Rd. and continue 4.3 miles and turn right on DuPont Rd. for 3.1 miles.

Note: Connestee falls are also very rewarding, and are in the same general vicinity, making them a great side trip.

Learn more about DuPont State Forest waterfalls by visiting our Waterfalls page.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Last Virgin Forests in the Area - Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Entering Joyce Kilmer is like entering J.R.R Tolken’s Middle Earth, and a journey through this forest is like a journey back in time. You can almost feel the forest spirits watching you as you wander the beautiful paths of Joyce Kilmer. A number of of the colossal tulip-poplars are as old as 450 years, 20 ft wide, and stand at an impressive 100 ft tall. Under the canopy of these gentle giants lies a forest floor teeming with life. Joyce Kilmer’s amenable neighbor, Lake Santeelah, is a temperate and premier swimming and camping destination. Fishing, boating, swimming, or just laying in a hammock on the shore and reading a favorite book, all are worthy ventures while visiting one of the author’s favorite locations in all of WNC. This whole area is sandwiched between the Nantahala National Forest to the South and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the North. From Asheville take I-40W to Exit 27. Exit right onto U.S. 19/74 toward Waynesville. Go about 47 miles, and bear right on NC 28N. Go 5 miles, and turn left on NC 143 to Robbinsville. From Robbinsville, take NC 143W. After about 12 miles, turn right on Joyce Kilmer Road (SR1134). Go 2 miles and turn left to memorial forest. You can’t miss Lake Santeelah, for it is on the way to Joyce Kilmer.

Local Outfitters / Outdoor Stores

Black Dome Mountain Sports
140 Tunnel Road
Asheville NC 28805

Black Dome Outdoors – The North Face
1378 Hendersonville Road Suite D
Asheville NC 28803

Diamond Brand Outdoors
2623 Hendersonville Rd.
Arden, NC 28704

Diamond Brand Outdoors - Asheville
172 Charlotte Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc
107 River Hills Rd # A
Asheville, NC 28805
Frugal Backpacker
2623 Hendersonville Road
Arden, NC 28704

REI - Asheville
31 Schenck Parkway
Asheville, NC 28803

Second Gear
415 Haywood Rd # A. Asheville, NC 28806

Take a Hike Mountain Outfitters, Inc.
100 Sutton Ave
Black Mountain, NC 28711


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Cycling Holidays

Our independant cycling holidays let you follow any route you choose using our maps and notes, along rural lanes past pretty chateaux to coastal tracks and delightful hidden coves.

Cycling in Spain

With Headwater cycling in spain, cyclists can choose between a hotel-to-hotel route in Catalunya (with both 8 and 10 night choices) or opt for a single centre cycling holiday on Mallorca.

Cycling Holidays France

Headwater cycling holidays in France let you picnic where Monet set up his easel, relax beside pretty little rivers, or explore the hillside where Bernard of Clairvaux launched the Second Crusade.

Cycling Holidays in Italy

Choose from our wide array of cycling holidays in Italy, from an exhilarating tour of Chianti to a relaxing coastal route exploring the delights of Sicily and easy cycling routes through the Ventian vineyards.

Family Cycling

Headwater's family cycling holidays are perfect for adults and children of all ages. Child seats are provided for children up to 4 years and mountain bikes for the older children so the whole family can enjoy the cycling holiday together.


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Hiking, Backpacking and Camping in Western North Carolina
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Outdoor Gear Outfitters and
Discount Camping Supplies.
2007 Best of WNC.
Black Dome Mountain Sports
Black Dome Mountain Sports
C'mon in and See the New Toys...
Super Sweet Specials
Two Convenient Asheville Locations