Guidebook

Classic Day Hikes between Asheville and Brevard, NC

Classic hikes in the Pisgah Ranger District showcasing pristine waterfalls, high mountain peaks, and sweeping vistas.

Description

Pisgah National Forest is the oldest of its kind in the eastern United States and home to some of the best hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forest is divided into three districts: Pisgah, Appalachian, and Grandfather. While each corner is loaded with incredible hikes, the Pisgah Ranger District is located southwest of Asheville and is frequented by visitors in Brevard. Some of these hikes originate closer to Brevard, while others can be found higher in the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If you’ve never been to Pisgah, start with Looking Glass Rock or John Rock. Both begin less than 20 minutes from Brevard and offer incredible views from exposed slickrock vistas. Each should take less than 3 hours and showcase two of the most iconic vistas in the forest. The silhouette of Looking Glass Rock often makes its way into publications or guidebooks, and is even the front cover of a local map.

If you have younger children along for the ride, pay a visit to the historic Pink Beds Picnic Area. The Cradle of Forestry in America is adjacent to it and offers several exhibits and easier hikes. The Pink Beds Loop is just 5 miles total and is considered one of the easier and attainable hikes in the forest.

Heading deeper into the forest, hikes like Slate Rock and Cedar Rock provide incredible views of the Balsam Range, but at a cost. Both trudge deep into the forest and include significant elevation change and remote settings. Cedar Rock has two steep rock faces that require you to utilize fixed ropes to navigate the slope.

If you’ve hit all the local classics, check out Sycamore Cove, Coontree Loop, or Turkey Pen. Lesser visited than others, they offer an experience of their own and all include a nearby river or stream to jump in along the way.

If you make your way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sam Knob and Black Balsam are two iconic hikes in the Great Balsam Range with incredible panoramic views from nearly 6,000’. Skinny Dip Falls, Graveyard Fields, and Devil’s Courthouse are just a short drive away and offer phenomenal high-mountain hikes with minimal effort involved.

The final two pieces to the puzzle are best enjoyed at sunset or sunrise. Fryingpan Mountain offers incredible views from its namesake fire tower, and Mount Pisgah offers sweeping views of the entire Pisgah Ranger District from an observation deck atop its summit.

Sam's Knob and Black Balsam Knob
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Sam's Knob and Black Balsam Knob

4 - 5 hrs
21.9 km
670 m
670 m
A beautiful hike with two iconic summits, plenty of overnight camping, and year-round access.
Difficult
Private
Devil's Courthouse
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Devil's Courthouse

0 - 1 hrs
1.4 km
79 m
79 m
A short hike to an overlook with expansive views.
Moderate
Private
Skinny Dip Falls
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Skinny Dip Falls

Brevard
0 - 1 hrs
1.4 km
58 m
58 m
An unforgettable swimming hole, perfect for hot summer days.
Moderate
Private
Mount Pisgah
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Mount Pisgah

Asheville
1 - 2 hrs
3.8 km
215 m
215 m
A popular hike providing spectacular views from the summit of Mount Pisgah.
Difficult
Private
Fryingpan Mountain
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Fryingpan Mountain

Brevard
0 - 1 hrs
2.5 km
110 m
110 m
A short hike to a historic fire tower with breathtaking panoramic views.
Easy
Private
Pilot Cove/Slate Rock Loop
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Pilot Cove/Slate Rock Loop

Brevard
2 - 3 hrs
11.0 km
418 m
418 m
A gem of a hike showcasing some of the best features in Pisgah National Forest.
Difficult
Private
Turkey Pen Loop
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Turkey Pen Loop

Brevard
2 - 3 hrs
10.0 km
421 m
421 m
An hike in Turkey Pen pairing an old roadbed to a technical ridgetop traverse.
Difficult
Private
Sycamore Cove

Sycamore Cove

Brevard
1 - 2 hrs
5.9 km
191 m
191 m
A short, quiet hike on the edge of town.
Moderate
Private
North Slope/Art Loeb Loop
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North Slope/Art Loeb Loop

Brevard
2 - 3 hrs
10.9 km
506 m
506 m
A challenging hike through dense tunnels of rhododendron.
Difficult
Private
Coontree Loop
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Coontree Loop

Brevard
1 - 2 hrs
5.3 km
317 m
317 m
A short hike originating at a picnic area along the Davidson River.
Moderate
Private
Looking Glass Rock
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Looking Glass Rock

Brevard
2 - 3 hrs
8.6 km
521 m
521 m
Hike to one of the most impressive viewpoints in Pisgah National Forest.
Difficult
Private
John Rock
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John Rock

Brevard
2 - 3 hrs
9.3 km
407 m
407 m
A classic route from the fish hatchery with phenomenal views from John Rock.
Moderate
Private
Cedar Rock Mountain
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Cedar Rock Mountain

Brevard
3 - 4 hrs
11.8 km
560 m
560 m
An adventurous and incredibly challenging hike requiring the use of fixed ropes to ascend Cedar Rock Mountain.
Extreme
Private
Daniel Ridge Loop
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Daniel Ridge Loop

Brevard
1 - 2 hrs
7.2 km
254 m
254 m
A staple hike with a 150' cascading waterfall.
Moderate
Private
Graveyard Fields Loop
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Graveyard Fields Loop

Brevard
1 - 2 hrs
5.0 km
115 m
115 m
A classic waterfall hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Moderate
Private
Pink Beds Loop
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Pink Beds Loop

Brevard
1 - 2 hrs
8.1 km
116 m
116 m
A beautiful, family-friendly hike through the historic Pink Beds Valley.
Easy
Private