If there’s one thing Western North Carolina is best known for, it’s the breathtaking mountain top views. Once you’ve experienced the magic of seeing the world from a Blue Ridge Mountain summit, you’ll never forget it. And the lovely hikes that reach those peaks are just as memorable. You’ll see nature at its finest as you meander through gorgeous, high-elevation forests and grassy mountain balds – all to be rewarded with jaw-dropping views at the top. So, if you’re in the Asheville area and ready to embark on an incredible hike with awe-inspiring panoramas, give some of these nearby favorites a try.
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Rough Ridge is home to one of the most amazing scenic overlooks in North Carolina. You’ll see exceptional summit views of Grandfather Mountain, Linn Cove Viaduct, and Linville Gorge. The splendor begins one-third of a mile from the parking area, where a boardwalk emerges from the forest. As you continue your hike, you’ll find benches and boulders along the way, perfect for taking a break, picnicking, and enjoying the fantastic vistas. From the boardwalk, it’s about one-half mile to the Rough Ridge summit (4,773 ft. elevation), where the highest rock has cables to help you reach the very top. To access this hike, head to the overlook at milepost 302.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Mount Mitchell is the highest summit east of the Mississippi. Its soaring 6,684-foot height is home to some of the most spectacular views in Western North Carolina, especially if it’s a clear day. Since you can drive almost to the top, it’s a short, uphill walk via a paved trail to the observation platform, where you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping, 360-degree panoramic views. If you’d prefer a longer, more challenging hike, head to the Deep Gap Trail. It’s a 4.3-mile moderate to strenuous trek that begins at the picnic area near the summit of Mount Mitchell. It offers spectacular vistas as it follows the crests of the Black Mountains and crosses Mount Craig and Big Tom Mountain. Mount Craig is the second highest peak (6,647 feet) in eastern America. Located 35 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, you can reach Mount Mitchell State Park via a beautifully scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 355.4.
Craggy Pinnacle at Craggy Gardens
This hike’s exceptional panoramic 360-degree views are hard to beat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s only a one-quarter mile round-trip hike to the top of the 5,892-foot Craggy Pinnacle summit. You’ll find that the short, mile-high trail traverses through wondrous tunnels of Catawba rhododendron. Hike in June, and you’ll find them abloom with millions of brilliant pink and purple flowers. Later in the summer is ideal, too, as colorful wildflowers abound. Note that many people like to watch sunrises and sunsets from the summit, which are spectacular to witness. If you opt for that, bring a flashlight with you in case you need to navigate the trail in the dark. To hike the Craggy Pinnacle trail, go to the Craggy Gardens Visitor’s Center, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 364.1. From the Visitor’s Center, drive north through a short tunnel and pull into the next parking area on the left to access the trailhead.
Located near tranquil Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park’s namesake is a 1,000-acre, 535 million-year-old monolith. You can hike to the top of the towering 315-foot rock formation via the Outcroppings Trail. It’s a moderate to strenuous hike that includes 494 steps, but the views from the top are well worth the effort. At an elevation of 2,280, you’ll be rewarded with marvelous, panoramic vistas that span over 75 miles. Want to go even higher? Head to the Exclamation Trail, which begins directly across from the stairs that lead to the Chimney Rock. You’ll hike to Exclamation Point, which is 2480 feet above sea level – and when you see the view, you’ll understand why it was featured in the movie “The Last of Mohicans.” To go higher still, continue on the Skyline Trail, which takes you to Peregrine’s Point, which, at 2640 feet, is the highest point in the park. It’s an excellent vantage point (and picnic spot) with breathtaking mountain views. To get to Chimney Rock State Park, exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 384.7 near Asheville onto Highway 74A East. Stay on 74A East for 20 miles, and the park entrance will be on the right.
The views from the top of Grassland Mountain are exceptionally panoramic. From 4,200 feet, you’ll see the mountains of Tennessee to the north, the Black Mountains and Mt. Mitchell to the east, Mt. Pisgah and Cold Mountain to the south, and the Great Smoky Mountains to the west. There’s even a private observatory at the top of the mountain, which is owned and operated by the Astronomy Club of Asheville. The observatory is located next door to our rustic yet refined Mountain Lodge, and there’s no hike required to see the extraordinary mountain top views from either one. However, it’s important to note that Grassland Mountain is within The Preserve at Little Pine, which is a gated residential community that closely controls access to the area.
As you hike among the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, we invite you to stop by and see the stunning mountain vistas from The Preserve at Little Pine’s sister community, French Broad Crossing. It’s a pristine mountain escape that boasts awe-inspiring views for its residents all year round. Why not come experience it for yourself? Learn more about finding your dream property here, among the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina today.