5 Child-Friendly Hikes near Asheville, North Carolina

North Carolina hiking guided hikes near asheville nc
Rough Ridge

The mountains of North Carolina are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and they’re a fantastic place to introduce your children to the joys of hiking and exploring the natural world. The Tar Heel State boasts a wide range of hiking trails, from serene strolls to more challenging treks. If you’re looking for child-friendly hikes near Asheville that offer scenic beauty without being too strenuous, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll introduce you to five delightful hikes perfect for kids in North Carolina.

Beacon Heights

Trail Length: 0.6 miles. Difficulty: Easy

Children looking at long range mountain view
Beacon Heights Overlook

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Beacon Heights is an ideal introduction to hiking for kids. This short, easy trail offers stunning panoramic views and is accessible for all skill levels.

 

 

To access the trailhead, head to Mile Marker 305.2 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Linville, North Carolina. There is a paved parking area where you will start this trail by crossing a bridge across a small waterfall. At about 0.2 miles into the hike, you will come across a trail to the left, which is the Tanawha Trail. This path eventually leads to Rough Ridge (see next hike) or The Linn Cove Viaduct. If you are looking for easy, child-friendly hikes, stay right at this point.

 

 

Once the summit looms near, the trail splits into two paths. Each path offers a short, easy walk to incredible, long-range mountain views. The path to the right will take you to a south-facing granite rock sitting at 4,430 feet in elevation. The path to the left takes you to another breathtaking clearing where you can gaze upon Grandfather Mountain as you soak in the scenery.

Rough Ridge

Trail Length: 1.2 miles. Difficulty: Moderate

two children on a rock face
Rough Ridge Overlook

Rough Ridge, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 302.8, is a slightly more challenging hike but still suitable for children with some hiking experience. The trail meanders through lush rhododendron tunnels, leading to a breathtaking overlook with long-range mountain views. This view is mesmerizing anytime of year, but if you’re lucky enough to catch North Carolina’s peak fall foliage, you’ll leave with a memory not ever forgotten!

 

From several large boulders along the hike, you and your children can view the most famous part of the Blue Ridge Parkway; the Linn Cove Viaduct. This unique section of the tourist roadway was constructed to seamlessly flow with the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rough Ridge is truly extraordinary due to the unmatched scenery and diverse flora and fauna in the area. Boardwalks are placed in sections of this hike to protect the delicate ecosystem thriving in the area, so please practice responsible tourism and stay on the designated trail. You’ll also need to leave Fido at home; dogs are not allowed on this one!

Black Balsam Knob

Trail Length: Varies (multiple trail options). Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Abbie
Black Balsam Knob

The Black Balsam area in Pisgah National Forest offers numerous trail options, making it adaptable for all hiking abilities. Younger children can explore the meadows and open balds while older kids may enjoy longer hikes on the Art Loeb Trail or Tennent Mountain. Regardless of your chosen route, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and rolling hills.

 

There are multiple access points to reach the summit of Black Balsam Knob, but the most scenic one is via the Art Loeb trail off Black Balsam Road (near Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 420.2). You’ll start the trail by walking on a gravel path through dense, evergreen forests. Be prepared for a drastic change of scenery when you start to climb granite rocks that have been worn down over millions of years. Based on the smooth, wave-like pattern of the rocks, you’ll think you’re walking on hardened lava!

 

Once you reach the summit at 6,214 feet, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vista views in all directions. The unobstructed scenery, multiple trail options, and accessibility for most makes this one of the best areas for hiking with children.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Trail Length: 1.5 miles. Difficulty: Easy

best hike near asheville craggy gardens trail
Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Craggy Pinnacle is a must-visit spot for families looking for a child-friendly hike in North Carolina. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 364.1, this easy hike leads to an iconic bald with 360-degree views of the Craggy Gardens and the surrounding countryside. The hike is particularly stunning in late spring when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.

 

Be prepared to take your time if you’re hiking this trail with children. There are multiple, wind-blown and twisted trees that prove irresistible to children! There is no doubt that your little ones will need to make a pit stop to test out their climbing skills! Even though the hiking here is easy, the environmental conditions are not. Due to the severe weather this area experiences (harsh winds, cold temperatures), trees have a hard time flourishing here. What you’ll find instead of towering trees is shrubs and bushes that present more like works of art than nature! Check updates on Blue Ridge Parkway closures before you go, but if you do make it to the summit, a manmade rock ledge provides parents some peace of mind or their active children.

 

After completion of the hike, be sure to drive down the parkway to the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center where you can gain insightful information on the area, as well as stock up on snacks and souvenirs.

Waterrock Knob

Trail Length: 1.2 miles Difficulty: Moderate

boy looking at NC mountains
Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 451.2, is another great choice for a family hike. While it’s a bit steeper, the trail is relatively short and leads to a summit with unparalleled views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Kids will love exploring the rocky outcrops at the top, and the drive to the trailhead offers plenty of opportunities for scenic overlooks and wildlife sightings.

 

 

You’ll start this trail out on a steep, but paved incline before transitioning to more traditional mountain terrain of rocks and roots. You’ll find the entire 0.6 miles to the summit to be a bit of a cardio challenge, but there is a spot about halfway up that lends itself to a great resting place with a stone wall and spectacular view. Once you arrive at the summit of Waterrock Knob, at 6,292 feet above sea level, you’ll be rewarded to one of the best views outside of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

 

 

Bring a picnic and stay for one of the best sunset spots on The Blue Ridge Parkway! You’ll find plenty of facilities in the parking area to keep you comfortable during busy season (mid-April-October). There are picnic tables, restrooms, and a visitor center all available at your disposable. 

North Carolina is a treasure trove of outdoor beauty, and these child-friendly hikes offer an excellent way to introduce your children to the wonders of nature. With trails like Beacon Heights, Rough Ridge, Black Balsam, Craggy Pinnacle, and Waterrock Knob, you can create unforgettable family memories while nurturing your child’s love for the great outdoors. Remember to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection, and always leave no trace to preserve the natural beauty of these pristine locations. Happy hiking with your kids in North Carolina!

Not quite ready to take your children hiking on your own? Check out this guided hiking tour specially made for children!

children's hiking tour asheville nc

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