16 Best North Carolina Fall Hiking Trails

North Carolina is a beautiful state year round but it’s especially breathtaking in the fall. There are tons of hiking trails across the state with spectacular views of the colorful leaves that you should take advantage of this season. We’ve put together a list of some of the best trails to explore this fall.

Quick Hiking Trails  0 – 2 miles

Beacon Heights Trail
Distance: 0.6 mi Difficulty level: moderate
One of the most popular trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Beacon Heights gives gorgeous panoramic views of Calloway Peak, Mount Mitchell, and Table Rock Mountain.

Pickens Nose
Distance: 1.5 mi Difficulty level: moderate
This sunny summit with multiple overlooks and a comical name is a relatively easy hike with stunning scenery.

Erwin’s View
Distance: 1.7 mi Difficulty level: moderate
Enjoy the beautiful colors of fall in the valley below on this trail along with stunning views of the Linville waterfalls.

Linville Gorge
Distance: 1.4 mi Difficulty level: moderate
This trail takes you along the opposite side of the waterfalls you’ll see from Erwin’s trail.  

Plunge Basin
Distance: 1.7 mi Difficulty level: moderate
This hike leads you to the base of the Linville Gorge with spectacular waterfall views. This trail is more secluded than the previously mentioned trails at the Linville Gorge.

Wiseman’s View
Distance: 0.2 Difficulty level: easy
A quick walk leads to an incredible overlook that’s wheelchair accessible. You’ll find views of the gorge below along with Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain.

Average Hiking Trails 2 – 5 miles  

Roan Mountain
Distance: 4.7 mi Difficulty level: moderate
Roam through wildflowers and blueberries along the Appalachian trail on the North Carolina side of Roan Mountain.

Graveyard Fields
Distance: 2.9 mi Difficulty level: moderate
See the fall leaves come to life in the sunlight on the Graveyard Fields trail alongside a cascading waterfall.

Moore’s Knob
Distance: 4.3 mi Difficulty level: hard
Take in 360° views of Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain sure to be stunning in the fall.

Three Top Mountain
Distance: 4 mi Difficulty level: hard
View a 2,308-acre preserve from the top of Three Top Mountain, known for the stunning orange leaves of the sugar maple trees in fall.

Shortoff Mountain
Distance: 4.4 mi Difficulty level: hard
If you’re looking for a less crowded spot to view the Linville Gorge in fall try this trail on the South side. You’ll find a few rocky perches to take in the views from.

Extended Hiking Trails  5 + miles

Art Loeb
Distance: 28.5 Difficulty level: hard
One of the most scenic trails in western North Carolina with views of Shining Rock Mountain, Black Balsam Knob, and Tennent Mountain.

Pinnacle Park
Distance: 7.2 mi Difficulty level: hard
Hike to the Pinnacle to find astounding views of the mountains and town below from the summit. This hike is straight up no breaks!

Birkhead Mountain
Distance: 11.6 mi Difficulty level: moderate
A little over an hour from Charlotte, this trail is at the northern tip of the Uwharrie National Forest, also known as “Central Park”. Primarily filled with oak and hickory trees it’s a beautiful sea of yellow in the fall.

Medoc Mountain
Distance: 5 mi Difficulty: moderate
Visit the giant white oak tree atop of Medoc Mountain while basking in the view of reds and yellows below. It’s just an hour and a half from RTP!

South Mountain
Distance: 40 mi Difficulty: moderate to hard
North Carolina’s largest state park at 18,000 acres holds some of the most beautiful views of the fall leaves and waterfalls.

Middle Prong Wilderness
Distance: 9.3 mi Difficulty: hard
Sitting west of Shining Rock enjoy the autumn views from this less traveled equally stunning trail.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the best fall hiking trails in North Carolina. All of the photos in this post were taken by Republic Wireless team members that enjoy the great outdoors. One team member shared she dropped her phone on her last hike and cracked her screen! So, also remember to protect your phone from drops and water when exploring with a sturdy phone case.

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If you visit any of these amazing North Carolina trails this fall please share your pictures with us!

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Notable Replies

  1. mb2x says:

    Has anyone hiked Table Rock in Upsate SC? It’s an awesome hike! If you are not in shape, I dont recommend it. I hiked it when I was extremely unfit and it was downright awful. However, the view is to die for! It’s pretty high and is a huge flat rock formation (hence the name). I have never hiked it during the fall when the trees change color, but I can imagine it would be picturesque! I believe its arround 10 miles or so round trip so it’s a day event. Bring a lot of water too. I brought a couple bottles and had pretty much emptied both by the time I reached the top.

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