Hit the trails
Part of what people love about Hendersonville and all of Western North Carolina is the scenic beauty of the rolling mountains and the our unparalleled access to get out and explore. Whether you are an experienced hiker or prefer a short walk to a scenic overlook, there are many hiking options to add to your itinerary. See below for options at all difficulty levels that are close to or in Hendersonville.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Leave No Trace
Located in eastern Henderson County at an elevation of 4,232 feet above sea level, Bearwallow Mountain is an easy to moderate one-mile (each way) trail that features a grassy meadow at its summit, which often has cows grazing, along with a historic fire tower, breathtaking scenery and a 360° view. From atop the peak, see such area landmarks as downtown Hendersonville, Mt. Pisgah, Mt. Mitchell, the Hickory Nut Gorge and upstate South Carolina. As of fall 2020, this trail now connects to the Wildcat Rock Trail at the mountain’s summit. Both the Bearwallow Mountain Trail and the Trombatore Trail start from the same parking lot, at 4854 Bearwallow Mountain Road, Hendersonville. Parking is limited, please only park in designated parking areas. Click on Conserving Carolina for additional information
Blue Ridge Parkway
The “Nation’s Most Scenic Drive” follows the mountain ridges from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, weaving along the north western border of Henderson County, a mere 15 miles north of Downtown Hendersonville. The Parkway’s 469 toll-free miles are filled with natural beauty, mountain forests, wildlife, wildflowers and magnificent views. There are numerous scenic overlooks, parking areas and more than 100 trails, ranging in difficulty level, but most are moderate to difficult. Much of the Blue Ridge Parkway, including the part closest to Hendersonville, is often closed during winter, due to poor driving conditions caused by wet weather and the higher altitude. It is always a good idea to visit the Parkway’s website for a list of Road Closures. For information, call 828-298-0398. The closest Parkway entrance to Downtown Hendersonville is the Bent Creek entrance, located at Parkway Mile 393 near the North Carolina Arboretum.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
Carl Sandburg, American poet, historian, author, and lecturer spent the final 22 years of his long and productive life at his estate, Connemara, in Flat Rock. Today this National Historic Site offers a keen insight into Mr. Sandburg, his family and their 264-acre working farm. The Sandburg Home houses his collection of 10,000 books, notes and papers. Home tours are offered daily tours. There are numerous hiking trails and a functional goat barn, where Mrs. Sandburg raised her prize-winning goats. There are five miles of hiking trails located on the Connemara property that range from is easy to moderate in difficulty level, with Glassy Trail being steep in only one place. It takes is about 35 minutes at a steady walk to the top of Glassy. Located at 1800 Little River Road, Flat Rock, NC.
Please note: Due to the dam on the property’s lake breaking, the hike to reach the house and goat barn has notably increased. There is a shuttle available as well as a second parking area closer to the goat barn, please follow all signage.
Cane Creek Greenway
This popular, easy walking path is partially paved and partially covered in fine gravel. It currently links to walking paths at Bill Moore Community Park, but there are plans for expansion. The Greenway runs next to and offers access to Cane Creek, which is a great place to fish or wade. Much of the Greenway is wooded, making it is a great place to, walk, run or bike. Ample parking is available at Bill Moore Community Park, located at 85 Howard Gap Road, Fletcher, NC.
Chimney Rock & Lake Lure Area
The towns of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are nestled in the Hickory Nut Gorge area of Western NC. Traveling from downtown Hendersonville is an easy drive, taking approximately 35 minutes. The Weed Patch Mountain Trail offers wilderness adventures for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers to explore. The 8.6-mile trail traverses rugged mountain terrain through a remote wilderness area in the Town of Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park. The strenuous trail connects to the Buffalo Creek Loop Trail and is 10 miles long one way, 20 miles round trip (including the start on the Buffalo Creek Loop Trail). The Youngs Mountain Trail leads to a mountain summit with panoramic views of Lake Lure, Rumbling Bald, many mountain peaks and the Hickory Nut Gorge. On this strenuous 4.2-mile out-and-back hike, you may see wild animals, wildflowers, a small waterfall, rock outcroppings and much more. This trail is brand new (as of Spring 2021), and parking is currently limited, so a parking pass is required. Find out more on Conserving Carolina’s website.
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
This popular attraction combines the best of the mountains with 75-mile panoramic views, unique biodiversity, six hiking trails ranging from kid-friendly to strenuous, and one of the tallest waterfalls on the East Coast. A unique 26-story elevator inside the mountain is an easy way to access the observation deck. The Park has been a filming location for many movies including “The Last of the Mohicans.” Located 18 miles east of Hendersonville. Check web site for hours and fees. Click for details.
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Encompasses 10,268 acres in Henderson and Transylvania counties. It is situated in the Little River valley and includes waterfalls and 80 miles of roads and trails wandering through mountainous terrain. DuPont State Recreational Forest is open to the public for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, with trails ranging from easy to strenuous in difficulty level. Popular trails include the Triple Falls and High Falls loop for hiking, and the Ridgeline Trail for biking, and the Cedar Rock Trail for both, however, you are encouraged to check out any of the park’s 84 trails, not just its most popular ones. Many scenes from the movie, The Hunger Games, were shot in DuPont State Recreational Forest. High Falls Access parking lot, 1300 Staton Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC — please note: parking is limited, please follow all signage. It is recommended you visit during weekdays, the off-season, and/or arrive early.
Florence Nature Preserve
Located on the side of Little Pisgah Mountain, the tallest peak in Henderson County, this 600-acre property has 5+ miles of trails. The property was donated to Conserving Carolina and turned into public land in the late 1990s. Conserving Carolina is in the process of extending the trails on the preserve, to connect the nearby Wildcat Rock, Bearwallow Mountain, Trombatore, Strawberry Gap and Blue Ridge Pastures trails, forming one 20-mile-loop trail. These trails here are classified in difficulty as moderate to strenuous and include scenic views, creeks and cascades, wildlife, wildflowers and an old home site. Parking for the Florence Nature Preserve is located on Hwy. 74-A, at 3836 Gerton Hwy, Gerton, NC 28735, and is shared with the Wildcat Rock Trail.
Green River Game Lands
With more than 14,000 acres spanning Henderson and Polk Counties, and located southeast of downtown Hendersonville, this area is home to steep, rugged terrain and dense forest land, as well as access to the Green River, which offers both gentle and extremely difficult sections with class IV & V rapids — difficult even for expert kayakers. The Game Lands are managed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and are used for hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and tubing or kayaking. Due to the difficult terrain, all visitors are urged to use extreme caution in all parts of the forest. Much of the Green River Game Lands are recommended for advanced hikers and expert kayakers. Parking is available at many locations, but some of the closest designated parking to Hendersonville and hiking trails would be on Big Hungry Road at the Bishop Branch and Pulliam Creek Trailheads.
Holmes Educational State Forest
Offers a series of well-marked trails, accented by exhibits and displays depicting the ecology of a managed forest. Most trails are rated easy, but the Demonstration Trail is rated as strenuous. Picnic sites with tables and a spacious picnic shelter (with grills) are also available. Holmes Educational State Forest is located about 8 1/2 miles from downtown Hendersonville. The forest hours vary by season. Located at 1299 Crab Creek Road, Hendersonville, NC.
Jump Off Rock
This scenic overlook, which provides a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges also offers three hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty. Blue Trail – easy trail, takes about 8 minutes, Yellow Trail – moderate trail, takes around 15 minutes & Red Trail – is the most difficult and the longest. See the sign at the entrance to the walkway leading to Jump Off Rock. From Main Street turn onto Fifth Avenue West, which becomes Laurel Park Highway, the road dead-ends at Jump Off Rock. Jump Off Rock is located approximately 5 miles from Downtown Hendersonville.
The North Carolina Arboretum
Offers 434 acres of natural beauty, including 65 acres of cultivated gardens, and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, which are rated easy to moderate and moderate to strenuous. There is a small fee to access the grounds. Located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC, 28806. Visit the Arboretum’s website for a Hiking Guide.
North Mills River Recreation Area & Campground
Part of Pisgah National Forest and located in Henderson County, just 13 miles from Downtown Hendersonville, the North Mills River Recreational Area has picnic sites, campsites, hiking, mountain biking trails, river fishing and is a great place to go tubing (bring your own tube). Trails range in difficulty level from easy to strenuous.
The Okalawaha Greenway stretches 3.25 miles, connecting Jackson Park, Patton Park, Berkley Park, Sullivan Park & William H. King Memorial Park. It is a relatively flat, paved trail runs along Mud Creek and is handicap accessible. This 10-foot-wide asphalt path is popular among both cyclists and pedestrians, is a great place to go birding and to look for wildflowers. Benches, water fountains, and three bicycle FixIt Stations are available along the trail. Parking is available at each of the connecting parks as well as in small lots on many of the intersecting roads.
Saluda Mountains Passage on the Palmetto Trail
The Palmetto Trail is South Carolina’s state trail that stretches some 500 miles from the mountains in the Upstate to the coast, near Charleston. Parts of the northern-most section of this trail dip into North Carolina and run along the state line, right in Henderson County. The closest section to Hendersonville is the Saluda Mountains Passage, which goes between Tuxedo and Saluda. This moderate to strenuous section includes switchbacks, some steep climbs and historic sites along the way. In the Tuxedo area, parking is available on Anders Road, near Camp Talisman. In Saluda, parking is available at Orchard Lake Campground.
Perry N. Rudnick Art and Nature Trail
Located just outside Downtown Hendersonville, you will find multiple trails through both woods and meadows that are dotted with outdoor art. All trails are relatively flat and would be considered easy to navigate. Parking is available at the Kellogg Center and a small lot at 362 South Rugby Road in Hendersonville.
Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest encompasses more than 500,000 acres of public lands, which are filled with countless miles of hiking and biking trails, rivers for fishing, swimming and tubing, waterfalls, scenic views, picnic sites, and camping sites. Some of the most popular hiking trails near Hendersonville include Moore Cove Falls (easy), Andy Cove Falls (easy), the Estatoe Trail (easy), Cradle of Forestry (easy), Pink Beds (moderate), Daniel Ridge (moderate), John Rock (difficult), Looking Glass Rock (difficult), Art Loeb (difficult) and many more. Check out Hike WNC for great hiking info or the Pisgah Ranger District Visitor Center, located at 1600 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768.
The Park at Flat Rock
Situated on 66 flat acres, The Park at Flat Rock offers a 1.5-mile loop trail around the perimeter of the park, and many other shorter paths that criss-cross through the park, also totaling 1.5 miles. Many of the pathways are covered in fine-crushed rock, making them easy to navigate by foot, bike or with a stroller. The peaceful park has multiple ponds, many benches along the pathway, two popular playgrounds, a pavilion that can be rented out, and is home to many flowers and wildlife. The Park at Flat Rock is a great place to go for a stroll or to walk your dog. Open year-round from dawn to dusk and is located approximately 3 miles south of Downtown Hendersonville at 55 Highland Golf Dr., Flat Rock, NC 28731.
This strenuous 2.4 mile (each way) trail will get your heart pumping as it takes you through pastures up to a grassy bald with spectacular views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Bearwallow Mountain. Both the Trombatore Trail and Bearwallow Mountain Trail start from the same parking lot, at 4854 Bearwallow Mountain Road, Hendersonville. Parking is limited, please only park in designated parking areas. Click on Conserving Carolina for additional information.
Strawberry Gap Trail
Built and maintained by Conserving Carolina (with the help of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and many generous landowners, donors and volunteers), the Strawberry Gap Trailhead is located in Gerton on Gerton Highway. The trail connects to the Trombatore Trail in the picturesque Blue Ridge Pastures after an approximately 2.8-mile hike, but sees about 800 feet in elevation change, making it a challenging hike. Please note, this trail is only open to human hikers, meaning no dogs, bikes or horses. The Starberry Gap Trail is part of the Hickory Nut Trail Gorge trail system, one of 12 North Carolina State Trails.
Wildcat Rock Trail
This moderate to very strenuous 5-mile (each way) hike takes you to the summit of Bearwallow Mountain the long way around. Along the trail, you will see Little Bearwallow Falls, Wildcat Rock (which offers stunning views) and a picturesque ridgeline meadow. The most strenuous section of this hike is the portion between the waterfall and the ridgeline meadow. The trailhead is located on Hwy. 74-A, at 3823 Gerton Hwy in Gerton, NC, in eastern Henderson County, with parking available across the road at the Florence Nature Preserve. Trail maintained by Conserving Carolina.