When’s the last time you’ve gone hiking? How about a long walk outside? If you’re feeling a little out of balance, maybe it’s time to hit the trails surrounding Asheville, NC. This beautiful area is home to a temperate rainforest with multiple national parks and forests, from Pisgah National Forest to Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smokey Mountains (& more!). Asheville has some of the world’s richest biodiversity, with the greatest concentration of plant species per area than anywhere else in the United States.1 “There are over 4,000 species of plants, 2,000 species of fungi, and 500 species of mosses and lichens documented in the region.”2 In the fall, the famous Appalachian Mountains are lit up in hues of crimson and amber, making it a sought-after hiking spot. Here, you will also find some of the freshest water and crispest air in the United States.
If you’re still not convinced to get outdoors, then listen to the scientists. Studies have shown numerous health benefits to being in nature for prolonged periods of time.
For example, there are actually 25-62% more pollutants in our air INDOORS, than outside.3
Since humans are animals, in many ways, we were designed to live outdoors. When we spend time outside, you will find an increase in serotonin and more brain activity in the areas “responsible for empathy, emotional stability and love“.4 If you take off your shoes and walk barefoot on the earth, a phenomenon that is now known as “grounding“, you will receive the earth’s negative charge, and as a result, experience less inflammation and more energy.5 What’s even better than just being outdoors? Being by a waterfall! Waterfalls are known to release negative ions in the air, which are responsible for clearing the pollutants and neutralizing free radicals.6
Now that I’ve done my best to convince you to go hiking, let’s talk trails. Since my brother Tyler lives in Asheville, he’s been on 42 trails and counting, with overnight camping trails like the Appalachian Trail being his favorite. I, on the other hand, am not so skilled. So if I can do the following trails, then so can you!
1. John Rock (5 miles)
This is our favorite hike! It’s a bit more laborious than the rest, but I’ve seen both the young and old tackle it. The first part of the trail winds around a low-level forest with a creek running through it. The further you ascend and leave the water, the steeper the trail becomes. But when you reach the top you will be so pleased! There is a large cliff edge made of rock that you can sit on and enjoy the view. I’m guessing the name came from that and not the other John Rock, who took part in the invention of birth control. I should mention that the rock is angled, so be careful with your water bottles. I accidentally hit mine and it rolled off the cliff. :*( If you want a better idea of what this hike is like, check out the first video on this page.
2. Table Rock (2.2 miles)
This short but moderately strenuous hike takes you to breathtaking, panoramic views of the Linville Gorge. At the top, you will hear the wind howling, and a lucky few may even spot the fastest animal on earth, the Peregrine Falcon. 7 Don’t plan on lying around as easily as you would on John Rock. This surface is a bit more rugged for that.
3. Crabtree Falls (2.5 miles)
This is the waterfall pictured above on the right. Again the hike is short, and the reward is huge. The waterfall is tall and there are shallow waters around it. Since “North Carolina mountains are home to more species of salamanders than any other place in the world”,8 you should spot them hanging off rocks here.
4. Hooker, Triple and High Falls in DuPont State Forest (3 miles)
This is a very family friendly hike. We took our mom here and casually strolled through the wide and prominent trails. You will quickly see three beautiful waterfalls that are unique in their own way. If you like to climb out on the rocks for some adventures, heed caution. There were Copperheads hiding between them!
5. Max Patch (1.4 miles)
According to Tyler, “Max Patch is a must“. It’s a bit different from most hikes in that the top is actually a pasture. If you want an easy hike, 360 degree views of mountains and beautiful sunsets, then this is your trail. You could even have a picnic up here (hint: great date idea!).
There are so many more hikes around Asheville! For a comprehensive list, look here.
- California Air Resources Board