2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina, and we're celebrating by showcasing a different Featured Hike each week. If you'd like to hike with us on one of the Featured Hikes, head to our Trips Calendar and book a private hike!

Hawkbill Rock (Asheville, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Snowball Trailhead just off the Blue Ridge Parkway

A little closer to Asheville than Hawksbill Mountain in Linville Gorge, and a little bit less crowded, too!  Hawkbill Rock is a beautiful moderate to challenging hike just north of Asheville in Pisgah National Forest. From a pull-off on the side of the road to Craggy Gardens Picnic area, you’ll start hiking on the Snowball Trail/Mountains to Sea Trail westbound. The two trails will split within a tenth of a mile; take the right fork to stay on Snowball Trail up and over Snowball Mountain. After about a mile and a half, you’ll reach a short section of scrambling as you make your way up the rock outcropping of Hawkbill Rock. Return to your vehicle the same way for a total of 3 miles. Keep in mind that vehicles parking at the trailhead should have all 4 tires off the pavement! If parking is full, continue driving to the Craggy Gardens Picnic area and start hiking on the MST there, extending the hike length to about 4 miles.

We offer this as a guided hike! It's a challenging Half Day Hike, and can be extended into a Full Day Hike by connecting with Craggy Gardens or the site of Snowball Firetower (the tower has been removed).

Max Patch (Madison County, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Max Patch Trailhead in Pisgah National Forest

Max Patch is one of the most iconic views on the Appalachian Trail, and it is right here in Western NC! This easy 1.5-mile loop shows off the 360-degree views and wildflower fields of this grassy bald. Starting from the left side of the parking lot, hike about 0.5 miles to reach the bald. Then follow the loop around to return to your vehicle. You can extend this hike as long as you’d like by hiking either north (toward Hot Springs) or south (toward the Smokies) on the AT from atop the bald. You may recognize Max Patch from some news coverage about overcrowding in 2020; since then, the bald was closed to camping (or other overnight use) and the restoration efforts are making great strides!

If you'd like to contribute to the Carolina Mountain Club's Max Patch restoration fund, we carry their beautiful fundraiser patches in our shop.

We offer this as a guided hike! It can be included in a Half Day, Full Day, or Backpacking Trip! Much of the drive is on a windy gravel road, so be sure to talk with your guide about transportation options if you're not comfortable driving in those conditions.

Mt Pisgah (Canton, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mt Pisgah (originally known as Elseetos in Cherokee) once marked the western edge of George Washington Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate. It's easily identifiable from downtown Asheville because of the radio/tv broadcast tower on the summit. We like to start this hike at Pisgah Inn and walk by the remains of Buck Springs Lodge, Vanderbilt’s hunting cabin, before beginning the climb up Mt Pisgah. This out-and-back hike is 5 miles, but can be shortened to 3 miles by starting and finishing at the Mt Pisgah Trailhead. The hike is steep and challenging, but your effort is rewarded with 360-degree views from the summit!

We offer this as a guided hike! It makes a great Full Day or Half Day hike, depending on your preferences.