Outside Magazine ranked Boone, NC #10 in its 2015 online poll for “Best Places to Live, and there is no doubt that the High Country of North Carolina has an abundance of beautiful, publically maintained hiking trails and other outdoor recreational facilities. We’ve tried to include links with more information on public trails where available. We hope you enjoy exploring the outdoors in our beautiful mountains as much as we do.
Elk Knob State Park is one of the newest state parks in the area. It has a 1.9 mile hike to the summit of Elk Knob with stunning vistas, a parking area, a picnic area, and backcountry camping area. The entrance to the park is located at 5564 Meat Camp Road, Todd, NC 28684. The phone number is 828-297-7261.
Boone Greenway Trail is a hidden gem that meanders along the South Fork of the New River in and around the Town of Boone. The trail is partially paved with some gravel stretches. It is a relatively flat trail for the mountains. It is suitable for almost anyone. Benches, picnic tables and shelters dot the trail making for a nice family outing. The Town of Boone provides this link for a trail map.
Glen Burney Trail is located in the heart of downtown Blowing Rock and is a moderately difficult trail as it descends nearly 800 feet in one and half miles down the John’s River Gorge and alongside New Year’s Creek. The trail is not a loop and once you are at the bottom, you must hike back up. The trails hosts several beautiful waterfalls. The Town of Blowing Rock provides this link for a tail map.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is designated a National Natural Landmark because of it’s lush botanical paradise with interesting and unusual plant life. The 1,600 feet peak rises abruptly above the surrounding hills and fields of scenic Ashe County. The park entrance is located 1481 Mt Jefferson State Park Road, West Jefferson, NC 28694. The telephone number is 336-246-9653.
Grandfather Mountain State Park is a United Nations International Biosphere Preserve that rises nearly one vertical mile above the NC Piedmont. This ecologically diverse preserve hosts more than 70 species of rare and endangered plants. This in North Carolina’s newest state park. The entrance is located at 9872 NC Hwy 105 South, Banner Elk, NC 28604. The telephone number is 828-963-9522.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” meanders 469 miles along the Southern Appalachian Mountains and showcases the spectacular vistas, rugged mountains and rolling hills between the Shenandoah National Park in Northwest Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Southwest North Carolina. The road was an initiative of the Works Project Administration to help bring the region out of the depths of the Great Depression and is now America’s most visited National Park. The Parkway has 369 miles of trails. Click here for a list of Parkway trails in North Carolina. Click here for a list of trails in Virginia. Our corner of North Carolina boasts easy access to several parks with hiking, camping, canoeing, waterfalls, and picnicking areas. Doughton Park (milepost 240,) Bass Lake (milepost 294.6) and Moses Cone (milepost 294,) Julian Price Park (milepost 297,) Tanawah (Milepost 300,) Crabtree Falls (milepost 339.5) Mount Mitchell (mile post 355) and Linville Falls (milepost 317) are all within easy driving distance in the High Country area.
Three Top Mountain State Game Lands has 2846 preserved acres with walking trails and access for hunters in Ashe County. More comprehensive information about Three Top Game Lands has been compiled by these organizations Nature Conservancy, Summitpost.Org, and Hiking the High Country. Click on the name of the organization to see more info on the Three Top State Game Lands.
Todd Island Park is a privately maintained five-acre island in the middle of the South Fork of the New River in Todd NC. Access is located at the intersection of Castle Ford Road and the Todd Railroad Grade Road. It’s also a popular destination for trout fishing and put-in spot for kayakers and tubers.
New River State Park showcases the abundant flora and fauna of this peaceful, meandering National Scenic River. This ancient river is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America. Known for its trout and bass fishing, this park provides public access to the river, hiking, camping, picnicking and fishing. The park entrance is located at 358 New River State Park Road, Laurel Springs, NC 28644. The telephone number is 336-982-2587.
Bluff Mountain Nature Preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and boosts one of the tallest yet least known waterfalls in Western NC. It has a three mile loop trail with rocky terrain and a 300 foot elevation change. Only guided hikes are allowed. For more information see this post on Summitpost.org.
Not too far away is Stone Mountain State Park featuring a magnificent 600-foot granite dome, 20 miles of designated trout waters, 18 miles of trails, and more than 14,200 acres of beautiful scenery. The park is bounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway and Thurmond Chatham Game Lands. Park entrance is located at 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap, NC 28668. The telephone number is 336-957-8185.
The nearest accesses to The Appalachian Trail are short drives from Todd. Damascus, VA or Elk Park, NC are the closest spots.
The Mountains to Sea Trail stretches 1150 miles through North Carolina from the Great Smokey Mountains to the North Carolina Outer Banks. Much of High Country section of trail runs parallel with the Blue Ridge Parkway. A comprehensive trail guide for this section is available by clicking here.
Finally, Here are some selected links for more information from seasoned hikers about hiking in our area: