With cool temperatures and gorgeous red, orange, and golden leaves in the near future, it’s time to take advantage of North Carolina’s beauty and go for a long walk. Luckily, you don’t have to be in the mountains to feel like you are. North Carolina has a wide variety of trails and greenways fit for any nature lover.
1. Raven Rock Trail 2.6 mi., Campbell Creek and Lanier Falls Trail, 5.9 miles
All of these trails are located in Raven Rock State Park off of HWY 421 between Sanford and Lillington. Raven Rock is the more popular trail while Campbell Creek and Lanier Falls will give you peace and serenity.
2. Stone Mountain Loop, 5.2 miles
South of the Blue Ridge you'll find Stone Mountain. This immaculate granite bulge makes for great pictures, as well as a nice hike. The loop takes you around Stone Mountain, past a waterfall, and to the Hutchinson family homestead that was occupied from 1855-1955.
3. Harper Falls, Wilson Creek, 1.6 mi.
For a brisk hike with a rewarding end, hike to the popular Harper Falls. Pace yourself, the first part of the hike is the steepest. When you get to Harper Falls relax and dip your toes in the cool water.
4. Little Sugar Creek Greenway
If you're in the middle of Charlotte but want to dip into nature take a walk on Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The greenway has four different stop and start points. My personal favorites being E. 7th St.- Morehead then Morehead-Brandywine. In just a little over 3 miles you'll have beautiful views of Uptown then be dipped down on a walking trail beside Sugar Creek. It's very beautiful and you'll forget how close you are to the city.
5. Sycamore Trail, 7.6 miles
Located in William B. Umstead State Park, this is another trail that takes you out of the city and into nature. On the trail you have the opportunity to get to Sycamore Lake (if the water isn't too high) and you might even be able to see the remnants of an old dam. The trail is peaceful and serene, you'll forget you're right near Raleigh.
6. Uwharrie/Dutchman's Creek Trail Loop, 12.0 mi.
Outside of Asheboro you can get a taste of wild, untouched nature. This is a more difficult trail on the list but if you're seeking isolation and a good workout this could be for you. The Uwharrie trail is 19 miles long while Dutchman's creek is 11 miles. Both have trailheads in the same location and meet back up 6 miles in to form a 12 mile loop. The trails are USFS land are are more 'wild' than other trails. It's also a popular site for camping. Wear appropriate colors during hunting season.
7. Sugarloaf Dune Trail, Carolina Beach State Park, 2.8 mi.
Trade in the mountain views for sandy dunes and salty air. The Sugarloaf Dune Trail takes you through coastal habitat. You might even spot a Venus Fly Trap.
8. Moore's Wall Loop Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, 4.3 miles
Hanging Rock is one of the most popular hiking destinations just an hour outside of the Triad. You could certainly spend a whole day here. For an introdctory hike, Moore's Wall takes you on a brisk hike where the endpoint is a platform with 360 degree views. The Lower Cascade Trails is also a good cool down. It's short, with waterfall views. Everyone has their 'favorite' waterfall at Hanging Rock, but with an abundant amount of trails to choose from you'll want to come back again and again.
9. Crabtree Falls Loop Trail, 2.5 mi.
This somewhat strenuous hike is well worth it with THIS view. The trail starts at mile post 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail takes you through growths of birch and hemlock and loops around the beautiful Crabtree Falls. This is a great late morning-early afternoon hike.
10. Mountains-to-Sea Trail, 21.7 mi.
When completed, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will span 900 miles from Clingman's Dome to the Outer Banks. For now, the trail is easily accesible from multiple points. One of the best being the Folk Art Center, mile marker 382.0 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hopping on here, you'll pass Craven Gap, Rattlesnake Lodge, and Craggy Gardens. While a long trail, if you get tired or if the weather gets too cold you can always turn around. This trail will be absolutely amazing when completed.
11. Jomeokee Trail, Pilot Mountain State Park, 0.9 miles
For an easy hike with beautiful scenery, try Jomeokee Trail at Pilot Mountain. Just outside Winston-Salem, Pilot Mountain is extremely popular for day trips with a mountain feel. Jomeokee Trail takes you around the big pinnacle. There are plenty of small nooks to sit down and have a picnic as well. Try the trail during October when the changing leaves make for breathtaking scenery.
12. Croatan National Forest Trails
It's hard to choose just one hike in Croatan National Forest, because each one gives you something different. Cedar Creek Trail takes you through tidal marsh, the Neusiok Trail is the coast's longest backpacking trail, Island Creek Forest Walk takes you through untouched coastal forest, and Patsy Pond gives you serenity and beautiful pines. The trails total 31 miles.
13. Flat Laurel Creek Trail, 2.5 mi.
Flat Laurel Creek is a great, peaceful alternative to the popular Graveyard Fields Trails. The hike starts at a high elevation valley with grassy balds and dark, spruce-fir trees. You can take an optional trail to the summit of Sam's Knob. 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. This beautiful trail can be a rewarding hike or scenic starting point.
14. Erwin's View Trail, Linville Falls, 1.9 mi.
Linville Falls is a popular destination along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Erwin's View Trail starts at the visitor center. 0.5 miles takes you to an overlook where you can see the two upper falls. Take the upper trail from Erwin's View to Chimney Overlook or Erwin's View Overlook. Both will give you breathtaking views of Linville Falls and the gorge.
15. Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is the mecca for Eastern, U.S hiking. Spanning 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine, it offers some of the most gorgeous views in North Carolina. Points of interest along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina are Clingman's Dome, just a 0.5 mi. hike to the highest point of the Appalachian Trail. Lovers Leap Loop for a great family hike that is only 1.6 miles. Fontana Dam (pictured above), and Max Patch a 2.6 mi. hike that takes you to a grassy summit with 360 mountain views.
Which trail will you conquer first this fall? What are some of your other favorite trails in North Carolina? Tell us in the comments!