Best Hikes for Kids near Asheville, NC

Every year, families looking for vacation destinations flock to the mountains of North Carolina. Many families choose to call Asheville, NC their temporary home while they recharge and rejuvenate in the fresh mountain air. Asheville offers multiple child-friendly activities to keep the kids entertained, but nothing helps get the wiggles out quite like hiking the scenic trails surrounding the city. With a variety of child-friendly hiking options, there’s a suitable trail for even your youngest family members to explore. Knowing which hikes are child-friendly can be intimidating, so we take a closer look at some of the best child-friendly hiking trails near Asheville.

 

Always practice waterfall safety! Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls and use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks. These rocks are slippery from mist and algae. The top of any waterfall is dangerous—never play in the stream above a waterfall.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

easy hike for kids on blue ridge parkway craggy pinnacle trail
  • Location: Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Mileage: 1.4 miles (round trip)
 
Located at Milepost 364.1 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, families can drive approximately 20 miles northeast from Asheville to reach one of the best hiking trails for kids. Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a great trail if you are looking to introduce the youngest members of your family to hiking due to the short distance and mild elevation change. When you turn into the parking lot for this trail, you’ll find ample parking with portable toilets: a great resource when you’re traveling with children! This trail starts off with a gradual incline as you surround yourself with an old-growth, Appalachian forest setting. Continuing up the trail, you’ll be faced with some tree root obstacles and stone steps, but most families find the terrain manageable for children of all ages.

Trail Conditions

While you trek higher in elevation, you’ll notice the trees in this area have been wind-swept into twisting works of natural art. The harsh weather conditions found at this high elevation (5,892 feet above sea level) lead to difficult growing conditions, so the trees have adapted by not growing very tall, and have been molded by the high winds. Not only do the trees provide a unique visual attraction, but some of them even provide a natural playground for young children to climb!

Summit

As your family reaches the peak of this hike, children and adults alike will be mesmerized by the long-range mountain views at the summit. Offering 360 degree views of the surrounding Pisgah National Forest, there is adequate space for children to run around on the rocky outcrop while being protected from the edge by a man-made stone wall. If little legs are tired after the 0.7 mile climb, they can rest on the few benches found at the summit.
 
Once you’ve hopped back down the trail to your car, make sure to check out the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center for information and souvenirs! If you’ve packed lunches, you’ll find several picnic tables at the nearby Craggy Gardens Trail. Get a more in-depth look at both trails by reading Two Child-Friendly Hikes Near Asheville!

Graveyard Fields Loop Trail

child-friendly hike near asheville. graveyard fields
  • Location: Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Mileage: 1.3 miles (round trip)
Graveyard Fields Loop Trail has become, not only one of the best hikes for children near Asheville, but one of the most popular hikes in Western North Carolina! It’s easy to see why this trail has gained such popularity when you step from the parking lot and into one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This area, located at Milepost 418.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway (approximately 37 miles southeast of Asheville), entertains an abundance of visitors every year due to the unique landscape and child-friendly hiking trails. Children love this hike for its shorter distance (1.3 miles total) and opportunities to splash in water streams!

Trail Conditions

If you are hiking Graveyard Fields Loop Trail with children, you’ll love how the parking area comes equipped with private (albeit rustic) restrooms. You’ll also find bear-proof trash receptacles in the parking lot for all those snack wrappers! Once you’re ready to hit the trail, you’ll start the hike by walking down a few stairs to a paved path, which winds its way through a thick rhododendron tunnel. At the tunnel’s conclusion is where children’s eyes usually light up: a refreshing mountain stream, perfect for splashing, greets them! Here, children often beg for some play time before making their way to one of the most attractive waterfalls near Asheville. Please note that playing in these natural mountain streams comes with risks. Never leave your children unattended while swimming. Never swim at the top of a waterfall.

Second Falls

After splashing in the Yellowstone Prong stream, head across the footbridge, then veer right to experience one of the best waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Second Falls is a 55-foot cascade that tumbles over exposed granite rock. This waterfall earns its spectacular reputation just from its visual appeal, but if you’re in the mood for more swimming, the base of this waterfall offers one of the deepest, clearest swimming holes in the area!
 
If your children are too tuckered out after Second Falls, you may simply retrace your steps back to the car, making this a quick, 0.7 mile hike. However, if their energy seems limitless, continue to explore the remainder of the loop trail for a 1.3 mile hike. Along the way, you’ll cross boardwalks protecting fragile vegetation, navigate old forest growth, and bunny hop over roots and rocks before making your way back to the parking lot. Informational signs along the loop hike enhance the educational experience for both children and adults!

Moore Cove Falls

child-friendly hike near asheville moore cove falls north carolina
  • Location: US 276
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Mileage: 1.5 miles (round trip)
Moore Cove Falls is a tranquil waterfall located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, North Carolina. Visitors will find this 1.5 mile hike one of the best waterfall hikes for kids due to its low mileage and gentle terrain. This is also one of the only waterfalls in North Carolina where you can safely walk behind the cascade! To find the trailhead, you’ll need to drive on US 276 (Forest Heritage Scenic Byway) from either the Blue Ridge Parkway or from the town of Brevard. Although there’s no sign stating the name of the trail, you’ll know you’ve reached the right spot when you see a stone bridge and an information board by the road.

Trail Features

Although the trail to Moore Cove Falls doesn’t offer the expansive mountain views that are allotted to other North Carolina hikes, the rhododendron found here help the area come alive with blooming wildflowers in early June. Children will appreciate the large boulders found throughout the hike where they can practice their parkour skills!

Waterfall Features

Once you reach the waterfall, it’s hard not to be impressed with the 50-foot free-fall drop. Depending on your comfort level, you can stay a close distance from the waterfall on an observation deck, or you may choose the interactive experience and walk underneath the falls. Reminiscent of jumping through a lawn sprinkler on a hot day, children will squeal with delight as they run through this gentle waterfall. Typically a low-flow waterfall, you’ll want to visit after a hard rain for any chance of a gushing flow.

Forest Festival Trail

child friendly hikes cradle of forestry pisgah national forest
  • Location: US 276
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Mileage: 1.1 miles
If you’re visiting Asheville, North Carolina with children, take time to visit the Cradle of Forestry Trails in Pisgah National Forest. Not only will you find immersive hiking trails spread throughout the 6,500 acres, but there are seven historic buildings and a child-friendly, interactive visitor center, too. To reach the Cradle of Forestry, head up US 276 from Moore Cove Falls towards the Blue Ridge Parkway until you reach the clearly visible sign on the road directing you where to park.

Attractions

You may want to start your morning in the Discovery Center where children can “ride” in a helicopter and “tunnel” underground with moles. The playful exhibits found here aim to educate and inspire future generations of nature lovers. When ready, head out back to the Forest Festival Trail. This pathed path takes you and your children past historic wood cabins from when the Biltmore Forest School was operating (1898-1914). Don’t miss the 1914 Climax Logging Train Engine, where children are welcome to climb aboard and ring the bell!
 
If that’s not enough to keep your children engaged on a hike, be sure to visit during one of the many special events the Cradle of Forestry hosts. Interpretive actors help history come alive with time period clothing and craft demonstrations. Check the Cradle of Forestry website for up-to-date hours, admission prices, and events.

Triple Falls & High Falls

best hikes for kids near asheville north carolina dupont forest
  • Location: Dupont State Recreational Forest
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Mileage: 2.3 miles
No visit to Asheville, NC would be complete without gazing at some of the largest waterfalls in the area, and you don’t have to drive hours to achieve this! Located about 45 minutes from downtown Asheville, Dupont State Recreational Forest provides a child-friendly trail to two of the most iconic waterfalls in North Carolina. Triple Falls and High Falls, located along the same hiking path, provide an exemplary example of the beauty for which the Blue Ridge Mountains are known. To start this gentle hike, you’ll park at the Hooker Falls Access Area in Dupont State Recreational Forest,  where you’ll find restrooms, trash cans, and picnic tables. An informational sign helps visitors know exactly where to go on the trail before crossing the pedestrian bridge.

Triple Falls

Hikers will appreciate the stunning forest surroundings as they make their way along the wide, gravel trail which runs parallel to the Little River. Boulders sprinkled throughout the trail provide resting spots for your tiniest trekkers. Brace yourself for one steep ascent, but once you conquer this hill, you’ll be rewarded with the first of two massive waterfalls: Triple Falls. Known for its three distinct cascades, each plunge measuring around 100 feet in height, this North Carolina waterfall never fails to impress. Open skies allow for an unobstructed overlook where you can soak up the beauty of this waterfall in its entirety. For a closer look, head down the tall wooden stairway that leads to a rock outcropping beside the middle cascade. Remember, what goes down must come up, but benches along the way help with rest breaks for weary hikers.

High Falls

Further up the trail, High Falls greets you as it tumbles down the 120-foot, open-faced, rock cliff. The open overlook found here invites families to stop for snacks and selfies. If a distant selfie doesn’t satisfy your craving for nature, head down the side trail to the base of High Falls. This relatively level trail follows a well-maintained path where hikers can get an up-close-and-personal experience with this massive waterfall. Those with stellar balancing skills can rock hop directly to the base where they’ll feel the refreshing spray misting their face.
 
From High Falls, a loop trail provides extra hiking mileage, but the highlight of this trail is unequivocally the two waterfalls. So, if your little ones are starting to tire, this is the time to retrace your steps back to the car. The Triple Falls and High Falls Trail is an excellent choice when hiking with children near Asheville. You can be confident that the well-maintained, wide trail provides the easy terrain and unique attractions that keep children engaged and active the entire hike.
 
For more impressive waterfalls near Asheville, consider booking the Wonderful Waterfalls Tour!

Final Thoughts

From breathtaking mountain views to serene forest streams, the child-friendly hiking trails near Asheville offer endless opportunities for exploration. Whether you’re picnicking beside a waterfall, spotting wildlife along a forested path, or simply enjoying quality time together in nature, these family-friendly hikes are sure to create lasting memories for years to come.

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