20+ Best Hiking Trails Near Waynesville NC

Looking for the best hiking trails near Waynesville NC? This guide will provide you with detailed information on all the top trails, including photos, video, tips from us and more!

Our home, Waynesville NC, is near many of the best hiking trails Western North Carolina offers, and they are close by as well.

Hiking trails near Waynesville NC

Downtown Waynesville NC as the sunsets over the distant mountains - Best Hiking Trails near Waynesville NC

Waynesville NC is a popular vacation destination for those seeking the peace, serenity, beauty and adventure in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.

Waynesville NC offers many activities in and around town, and especially within it's almost Norman Rockwell like historic downtown area.

Waynesville is also very close to many of the great outdoor offerings the Blue Ridge Mountains provide, including waterfalls, scenic drives, swimming holes, parks, and hiking. In fact, Waynesville is often called the "Gateway to the Smoky Mountains" for North Carolina.

If you love hiking, or are thinking about trying it, there are many excellent hiking trails near Waynesville, from challenging/multi-day hikes, to relaxed and family friend hikes.

Here are our top picks for hiking trails near Waynesville NC:

Waterrock Knob

1 - Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Located at MP451.2, Waterrock Knob is at the end of a short side road and off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parking area offers incredible views, including sunrises and sunsets.

You can hike up the top is .5 miles and strenuous, but provides incredible views of the surrounding mountains, and of Ghost Town in the Sky and Maggie Valley NC. This is one of the most popular hiking trails near Waynesville NC.

Fall Graveyard Fields

2 - Graveyard Fields, Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most popular areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields at MP418.5 offers beautiful scenic views, two waterfalls, and several hiking options, including a loop trail and access to the Mountains-To-Sea Trail.

Devil's Courthouse

3 - Devil's Courthouse, Blue Ridge Parkway

Another popular hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP422, is the 0.8 miles roundtrip hike to the top of Devil's Courthouse.  The hike is short but steep.  

The trail leads through a lovely forest to the summit of Devil's Courthouse, offering stunning panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Little Cataloochee Baptist Church

4 - Little Cataloochee Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Little Cataloochee Trail takes you back into the woods of Little Cataloochee, a newer and smaller settlement close to Big Cataloochee.

This forest hike is beautiful and takes you by creeks and historic structures out to the restored Little Cataloochee Baptist church.

Boogerman Trailhead

5 - Boogerman Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Boogerman trail in Cataloochee Valley offers some of the largest old growth forest that you can find in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail is full of history as well, with old graveyards and home sites.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

6 - Oconaluftee River Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located at the Oconaluftee Visitor center, and mostly paved, this dog friendly and easy trail takes you along the banks of the Oconaluftee River and down to the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is nice, relaxing, and the sounds of the river are wonderful.

Lake Junaluska

7 - Lake Junaluska Trail

Another easy, paved and relaxing trail that provides some beautiful scenery is the Lake Junaluska trail, the goes around the edge of the lake.

The trail provides some incredible views of the lake and the wildlife that lives there, which includes Bald Eagles.

8 - Rough Fork Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Rough Fork trail in Cataloochee Valley is a very nice trail, that offers creek side and wooded hiking, and leads out to the historic Woody house and farm that you can tour. One of our favorite easy hiking trails near Waynesville NC.

Wildcat Falls NC

9 - Wildcat Falls Trail, Pisgah National Forest

This moderate hike along an old railroad grade takes you through some beautiful woods and alongside a crystal clear creek.

There are two waterfalls, a smaller unnamed waterfall, and the larger Wildcat Falls. Visitors can easily view both waterfalls from an old concrete bridge, which was built by the logging companies.

Black Balsam Bald

10 - Black Balsam Knob, Pisgah National Forest

Black Balsam Knob, near the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a moderate hike that goes along a ridge out to Black Balsam Knob.

The hike begins in a beautiful fir forest, then follows a ridgeline for incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

Max Patch North Carolina

11 - Max Patch, Pisgah National Forest

Max Patch is a very popular hiking location because of the short moderate hike up the Appalachian trail, for beautiful 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Max Patch provides both sunrise and sunset views.

Midnight Hole at Big Creek

12 - Big Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of our favorite trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Big Creek Trail provides access to Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls. The trail follows Big Creek as well, which is one of the most beautiful and scenic creeks in the park.  Big Creek Trail should be on your short list hiking trails near Waynesville NC.

Sam's Knob and Flat Laurel Creek Trail

13 - Sam's Knob, Pisgah National Forest

The hike to Sam's Knob begins off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and takes you through a beautiful meadow that is full of wildflowers spring through summer, then up to the top of Sam's Knob for incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

Flat Laurel Creek Trail

14 - Flat Laurel Creek Loop Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Near Sam's Knob, the Flat Laurel Creek Loop trail is a beautiful hike that takes you creek side, through forest, and meadows. This is a moderate hike, and a favorite for wildflower lovers.

Hen Wallow Falls Tall

15 - Gabes Mountain Trail to Hen Wallow Falls

Gabes Mountain Trail, in the Cosby area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was our first official hike. The trail takes you out to the beautiful Hen Wallow Falls. The trail offers a wooded landscape and is a moderate level of difficulty.

Flat Creek Trail

16 - Flat Creek Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway

Flat Creek trail is a gorgeous and moderate hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Maggie Valley NC. The trail takes you along streams and through the dense forests of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Palmer Creek - Pretty Hollow Gap Trail

17 - Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Pretty Hallow Gap is an easy to moderate out and back hike that takes you alongside a beautiful creek through Cataloochee Valley, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mingo Falls, Cherokee

18 - Mingo Falls, Cherokee

Mingo Falls in Cherokee is a simply gorgeous waterfall, that is close to downtown Cherokee. The trail is strenuous because of the stairs that take you up the falls, but well worth it. There is a nice viewing platform at the top as well.

Sunset at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

19 - Mountains-To-Sea Trail

The Mountains-To-Sea trail goes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, all the way to the Outer Banks. We hiked a portion of it when we were on Topsail Island. 

The MTS trail follows along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and provides several great hiking options and access points.

Kephart Prong Trail - Mountain Laurel

20 - Kephart Prong Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Kephart Prong trail is just off Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and takes you through an old CCC camp and up to a hiking/camping shelter near the Appalachian Trail.

Moore Cove Falls NC

21 - Moore Cove Falls, Pisgah National Forest

A very popular waterfall hike, this trail in Pisgah National Forest, near Brevard is a pretty trail, that ends with the reward of Moore Cove Falls.

Moore Cove Falls is a pretty waterfall, that you can stand at the base of.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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