Top 18 Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Trails

The Blue Ridge Parkway begins at milepost 0 at Waynesboro, VA and travels 469 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Cherokee NC, and the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   

The Parkway is full of scenic overlooks, points of interest, beautiful wildflowers, and amazing views.   The Parkway also provides access to many different hiking trails and waterfalls.   In fact, traveling the full length of the parkway, and stopping at all the various points of interest, and hiking some of the trails we highlight below could literally take you weeks, if not months to complete.  There is SO much to see and do!

While the Blue Ridge Parkway is amazing to travel in your car, you really can't appreciate its beauty without hitting one of the numerous hiking trails.    But with so many hiking trails available, which ones are the best?  Our list below provides information on the Top 18 Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Trails.   

Let us know in the comments, or in our Facebook group, which ones you enjoyed the most!

Our Picks for the Top 18 Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Trails


Waterrock Knob Trail

Waterrock Knob

Well known for its above 6,000 foot views, Waterrock Knob is a popular place on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially at sunset.  Waterrock Knob is located at Milepost 451.2, near Maggie Valley NC.  The parking area offers nearly 360 degree views, and both sunrise and sunset views.

What many don't realize is that you can also hike up to the top of the top, from a trailhead located at the parking area.  The trail up is short, at only 0.6 miles, but it's strenuous and steep.  The views from the top are worth it, as you can see from the photo!


Devil's Courthouse Trail

Devil's Courthouse

Devil's Courthouse, at milepost 422.4, is a popular stopping point for people traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the views from the Parking lot are beautiful.  For even better views, you can hike up the 1/2 mile trail to the overlook at the very top (seen in the photo), for incredible long distance reviews.   

Devil's Courthouse gets its name from the Cherokee Indians, who believed that the Devil held court in the caverns and caves below the mountain.


Graveyard Fields to Lower and Upper Falls

Fall Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields is one of the most popular locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and for good reason.  The area offers unique views, vegetation, and a number of hiking trails.   The Mountains-to-Sea trail even comes through the area.  

The two main trails take you to lower falls and upper falls, and both falls can easily be visited during the same hike.   The area also offers a longer loop trail that will take you to both falls, and up above Graveyard Fields for better views.

Our Waterfall Guides

See our full guides to more than 40 waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on our Waterfalls Page.  Information, Directions, Photos, Video, and more!


Art Leob Trail to Black Balsam Knob

Black Balsam Bald

If you enjoy hiking along high elevation and scenic ridges, with 360 degree views all around, than the hike to Black Balsam is for you!  This hike offers incredible views, due to being a bald, with only grass and low growing vegetation.

The trail also offers amazing sunrise and sunset views as well, along with high elevation camping as well.


Sam's Knob

Sam's Knob and Flat Laurel Creek Trail

The hike to the top of Sam's Knob is one of our favorite hikes, and is located at the end of a Black Balsam side road on the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Milepost 420.   Take the trail directly next to the restrooms.

Your hike will begin wooded, then open up into a gorgeous meadow, surrounded by beautiful mountains.  The meadow is full of wildflowers in the Spring through early Fall.  The hike up to the top of Sam's Knob isn't too long, but it is a bit steep.  The top of Sam's Knob provides beautiful and long distance views of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.


Craggy Gardens - Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Craggy Gardens

Just north of Asheville NC, at milepost 364.1 (north of the visitor center).    The Pinnacle trail is a short and very popular hike, but also very pretty.  The trail begins through a tunnel of Rhododendron.  Along the way to the top, you'll get scenic views, and walk beside a famous tree, that has been the focal point of many photos.

The views from the top are 360 degree of Asheville, the watershed and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.    Craggy Pinnacle trail is exceptionally beautiful in the Spring when the Rhododendron are blooming, and the Fall.


Crabtree Falls Trail

Crabtree Falls Trail

Crabtree Falls is one of the most popular trails and waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Parkway, and for good reason!   This is a stunning 70' waterfall, and a really nice wooded hike, although the trail is pretty busy during the prime season.

The hike to the Falls is 1.5 miles, and there is a very nice bridge below the Falls that offers a very nice view of the Falls.  You can come back the way you came, or continue on the loop trail, which adds an additional .5 miles to your hike.


Tanawha Trail, alongside Linn Cove Viaduct

Fall Color at Linn Cove Viaduct

10s of thousands of people drive across Linn Cove Viaduct each year, and what most don't realize is that off in the woods, along the side of Grandfather Mountain is a trail, that allows you walk under Linn Cove Viaduct and along side it.  

The trailhead begins from the visitor center, and takes you up to and under Linn Cove Viaduct.  From there you can take Tanawha trail along side the Viaduct, and even further if you like.  Tanawha Trail itself runs for 13.5 miles along side the Blue Ridge Parkway from Julian Price Park to Beacon Heights.

For unique views and a great understanding of the incredible engineering behind Linn Cove Viaduct, this is a trail you should definitely take!


Rough Ridge

One of the most popular hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains for incredible views, is Rough Ridge.   Again, another very popular hike, but for good reason.  The views are amazing, and both sunrise and sunset are viewable.   On a clear day, you can even see the Charlotte NC skyline in the distance.

The hike to top is just shy of a mile, but well worth it.  There are a number of large rocks at the top, that offer incredible long distance views.  You'll find the trailhead at milepost 302.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Our Hiking Guides

See our full guides to more than 40 hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on our Hiking Page.  Information, Directions, Photos, Video, and more!


Linville Falls Trail

Linville Falls

Linville Falls is the most popular AND most photographed waterfall on the entire Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Falls consist of a few different cascades, followed by the large plunge into the Linville Gorge (Grand Canyon on the East).   There are three different hikes here from the Visitor Center.  The most popular being Erwin's View trail, which at the end will provide the view seen above.  

Plunge Basin trail, which is more difficult, will take you down to to the base of the plunge, where Linville Falls plunges over 40 feet into the Linville Gorge.

A smaller waterfall is here as well, Dugger’s Creek Falls and is a short hike from the visitor center as well.


Mount Mitchell and Balsam Nature Trail

Mount Mitchell

Photo by Steve Wilson

Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in NC, the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, AND the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, at 6,684 feet.   On a clear day, the summit offers incredible long distance and 360 degree views.  

The forest surrounding the bald is exceptional, and filled with aromatic balsam trees.   The forest is like hiking in Tolkien's Middle Earth.  

The first portion of the hike climbs to the summit of Mount Mitchell, by way of a paved trail.   From the summit, where you will have incredible views, the hike loops through the high-elevation spruce-fir forest.    You'll definitely want to explore here, it's gorgeous, if not magical.   This is a family friendly hike, at 1-mile roundtrip, that everyone will enjoy.


Mount Pisgah Trail

Mount Pisgah is the most visible and recognizable mountain in the Asheville NC area, and it can be viewed from many places in and around Asheville, including the windows of Biltmore House.   

The Mt. Pisgah area has a number of trails, but the most popular is the Mount Pisgah Trail to the summit, at 5,721 feet.  The trail is 2.6 miles roundtrip, and is steep and strenuous.  The trail provides access to a number of beautiful scenic views on the way up to the observation deck and WLOS-TV tower.

The trailhead is located near milepost 407, off the Mount Pisgah parking area, near the famous Pisgah Inn.


Frying Pan Mountain Tower Trail

Frying Pan Tower Trail

Photo by: Sherry Maddock

A really unique and cool hike that offers some of the best views available in the area, is Frying Pan Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway.    This 1.5 mile round-trip trail will take you up to the historic Frying Pan Fire Tower, where you can walk up, almost to the top for some  breath taking views.  

The upper level is locked, so you can't go all the way to the top, but you can get close.  Warning, for those skittish of heights, this might be a bit of a challenge for you.   Elevation at the tower, is 5,340 feet.

The trailhead/service road is located at milepost 409.6.  You'll park at the entrance to Forest Service Road 450, which is always locked.


Price Lake Loop Trail

Julian Price Lake

Photo by: Jim Dollar

In our opinion, one of the most beautiful places along The Blue Ridge Parkway, is Julian Price Lake at milepost 297, near Blowing Rock NC.    Even better, there is a hiking/walking trail that loops around this beautiful lake.  The trail is 2.2 miles in length, offers stunning views of the lake, and even dogs are welcome.

This trail is flat, and rated easy to moderate.   Just be aware, the trail is very popular, and often very busy.


Sharp Top Trail

Sharp Top Trail Virginia

The most popular and most epic trail in the Peaks of Otter area of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The trail originates at the Nature Center, and goes 1.5 miles to the summit of Sharp Top mountain.  The hike is steep and strenuous, but offers incredible 360 degree views from the summit.  

We recommend taking the spur trail to Buzzard's Roost, a series or large rock formations.  The Nature Center is located at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Peaks of Otter area.


Cascades Trail

Cascades Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway

This easy 1 mile hike, near Boone NC, and off the Blue Ridge Parkway, will take you through beautiful forest and along Falls Creek to Cascade Falls, often called "The Cascades".  

This is a very popular hike in the Boone area, and while short, it's just beautiful.  Dogs are welcome on this trail, as long as they are on a leash.


The Pinnacle - Flat Top Mountain

The Pinnacle - Flat Top Mountain

The Pinnacle - Flat Top Mountain, is a moderate 5.3 mile out and back trail, near Buchanan Virginia at milepost 83 in the Flat Top Parking.   The trail offers some incredible views, and wildflowers.  

The trail starts with a nice forest hike, then begins to ascend up the mountain.  The trail becomes more rocky, but offers some amazing views on the way up.  The last portion of the trail to to the summit is the steepest but well worth it for the high elevation views, which aren't 360, but still still excellent.


Bass Lake Loop Trail

Bass Lake Loop Trail

Photo by: l.hutton

Bass Lake is located near Blowing Rock NC.  The Bass Lake Loop trail is an easy .9 mile hike around the lake, that is both dog and wheelchair friendly.  From the Parkway, exit at Milepost 294.6 to US 221, turn left toward Blowing Rock. It's a mile downhill to the Bass Lake trailheads.

This is a great hike for those that have been traveling the parkway, and just want to get out, walk around a bit, and give the kids or dog a break.  This is an easy and relaxing walk/hike, that provides beautiful views of the lake.

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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