Home of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Carolinas certainly do not lack incredible views! With easy access to thousands of trail miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (a 469 mile scenic drive), North Carolina is a mecca for hiking with your dog all year round.
Above: Hawksbill Mountain, Linville Gorge
Best Winter Hike:
Roan Mountain: Carver’s Gap- Appalachian Trail- If you’ve ever wondered why they’re called the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll quickly find your answer at Roan Mountain. This range of bald mountains is a MUST see all year round. Slightly off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike is accessible during winter and the rime ice is nothing like you’ve ever seen before! Because this is a section of the Appalachian Trail, you can make this hike as short or long as you want. I suggest making a 5 mile round-trip hike to Grassy Ridge Bald, which is one of the 40 highest peaks in the Southern Appalachian Mountains at 6160 ft!
Above: Roan Mountain winter snow hike
Best Waterfall Hikes:
Brevard, NC: Skinny Dip Falls, Sliding Rock Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, Cedar Rock Falls, Log Hollow Falls, Logging Road Falls, Daniel Ridge Falls, Shuck Ridge Falls, Cathey’s Creek Falls: Brevard and Transylvania counties are known as the “Land of Waterfalls!” Most of these waterfalls are easily accessible with extremely short hikes, the shortest being 0.1 mile, and longest: 5 miles round-trip, with an average of 1.8 miles. These make a great weekend loop trip, with plenty of places for you and your pups to cool off!
Best Fall/Spring/Summer Hikes:
Black Balsam Knob: Canton, NC- Art Loeb to Ivestor Gap Trail 5.1 miles - Right off of mile marker 420, this blueberry filled double- summit hike isn’t one to miss any time of the year! Like the Roan Mountain hike, you’re able to take these trails way beyond this 5 mile hike for those wanting to take a backpacking trip! Another range of balds, these promise incredible fall color views, and sunny berry picking spring and summers!
Above: Black Balsam Knob
Linville Gorge: Known as the Grand Canyon of the east, the gorge promises to take your breath away every.single.time. Although most of the gorge should not be attempted by the average hiker, there are a few hikes on the rim that can be accessed by anyone! Table Rock is a 2.2 mile round trip hike with some of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hawksbill Mountain is just 5 miles away from Table Rock and is also a shorter hike at 1.5 miles round trip, on the rim with plenty of incredible views and camping spots! Shortoff Mountain provides a whole new perspective of the gorge for those ready to tackle a longer more strenuous hike, and also is a great spot to pitch a tent with your pup and enjoy the incredible night sky views!
Easy Access Hikes:
DuPont State Forest: If you’re looking for a great family friendly or short hike with lots to see, DuPont is your place! Within an easy three mile loop, you can see three fast flowing waterfalls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls! You can continue on for a 4.4 round trip hike to see Bridal Veil Falls, a 120 foot waterfall that you can walk under! This is also where the movie “Last of the Mohicans,” was filmed!
Lauren Gwinn is a writer and photographer and runs Palmetto Moon Pointers, a blog about hiking, backpacking, and travel with dogs. You’ll find her in the mountains, or on the back of her horse, always with her two Vizslas, Sutton & Banks, and border collie/Heeler mix, Deuce, by her side! Follow her adventures @palmettomoonpointers on Instagram and visit her blog: http://palmettomoonpointers.com