With the weather warming up, I’ve been dreaming of a mountain getaway. A weekend spent camping, hiking, seeing waterfalls and taking pictures. But dedicating a whole weekend to that takes some serious planning. Sometimes you just want to get away…without all the effort. If you’re looking for a great workout, a great view, and an easy-to-moderate hike…these 11 hikes under five miles will give you just that.
1. Linville Falls, Erwin's View
Erwin's view takes you to the three main lookout points of Linville Falls. On this 1.5 mi. moderate hike, you'll climb through majestic forests of old-growth Hemlock and White Pines. Once you reach the famous Erwin's View you'll be speechless. It's easy to see why this perspective of Linville Falls is one of the most photographed on the east coast.
2. Sugarloaf Dune Trail, Carolina Beach State Park
Trade in the mountain views for sandy dunes. The 2.8 mi Sugarloaf Dune Trail takes you through diverse coastal habitat. You might even spot a Venus Fly Trap! If you're visiting the beach and want a little exercise...this is the perfect place to go.
3. Jomeokee Trail, Pilot Mountain
For an easy 0.9 mi hike with beautiful scenery, try Jomeokee Trail at Pilot Mountain. You can even start with Jomeokee and try more daring trails after. It takes you around the big pinnacle. For a date idea or to take a rest, there are plenty of cozy nooks to sit down and have a picnic!
4. Old Mitchell Trail, Mt. Mitchell
Dare to be different and hike to the top of Mt. Mitchell instead of driving. The hilly trail spans for just four miles. You'll pass the historic Camp Alice, and witness the changing ecosystem with each mile accomplished.
5. Flat Laurel Creek Trail
Flat Laurel Creek is a great, peaceful alternative to the popular Graveyard Fields Trail. The 2.5 mi hike starts at a high elevation valley with grassy balds and dark, spruce-fir trees. The trail lies beneath both Sam's Knob and Black Balsam Knob. From here, you can also hike to a waterfall on Flat Laurel Creek.
6. Whiteside Mountain
This 2.5 mile moderate trail takes you to the top of Whiteside Mountain...and the endpoint is amazing. A 700 foot cliff leaves little to be desired. It's suggested the best time for hiking is mid-June. Flowers overtake the rough terrain, adding colorful beauty - perfect for some photos!
7. Crabtree Falls Loop Trail
For the perfect late morning-early afternoon hike...this somewhat strenuous, 2.5 mi hike is well worth it. It starts at mile post 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Once you start hiking you'll go through growths of birch and hemlock. This trail loops around the beautiful Crabtree Falls.
8. Hickory Nut Gorge and Falls
Starting at cliffs along the gorge and leading to the breathtaking Hickory Nut Falls, this moderate 1.5 mile hike is safe and fun for the whole family. It's a vibrant hike that takes you along diverse landscapes.
9. Craggy Gardens
This easy, 1.4 mi hike is filled with lush, twirling-trees lining the trails and piling on top of one another. The enchanted but charted nature trail leads to a gorgeous summit lookout. It's best to go in the early summer for the rhododendrons and mid-summer for the blueberries!
10. Camp Alice Trail
For those seeking a Walden-esque hike, this lesser-used trail leads you to open fields with Mount Mitchell looming in the distance. The quiet terrain and peaceful hike spanning 3.6 miles will bring back your inner zen.
11. Moore's Wall Loop Trail, Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock is one of the most popular hiking destinations near the Triad. For the perfect, beginner hike that still lets you see the sights, Moore's Wall takes you on a brisk, 4.3 mile journey where you're rewarded at the end with 360-degree views from a rocky platform.
It truly is amazing how many diverse hiking trails our state has, and to be honest, I was a bit surprised at HOW amazing they are for being under five miles. Now you have no excuse not to get out and get active! What are your favorite hikes in North Carolina? Have you hiked any of these trails before?