Nestled in the heart of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the quaint town of Blowing Rock boasts a landscape rich with enchanting woods, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic mountain views. But perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in this stunning setting is by lacing up your boots and hitting the numerous hiking trails that wind their way through and around this mountain community.
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
With over 25 miles of gentle carriage roads, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is a local favorite. Suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities, the park offers serene woodland trails, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking views over Bass Lake. For a more challenging trek, the Rich Mountain trail ascends 1,400 feet to a fire tower offering a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscapes.
A scenic byway like no other, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers numerous trails along its 469-mile length. In the vicinity of Blowing Rock, one of the most iconic hikes is the Rough Ridge Lookout. At just under a mile, this moderate hike provides a rewarding payoff with expansive views of the Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain.
The Glen Burney Trail is one of the best hiking routes Blowing Rock has to offer. This historic trail, used by the area’s indigenous people for centuries, will take you through thickets of rhododendron and past cascading waterfalls. The trail descends almost 600 feet into the John’s River Gorge, offering rewarding views of the Glen Burney and Glen Marie waterfalls. Keep in mind, the hike is a strenuous one, particularly on the way back as you’ll be trekking uphill.
A little farther out, you’ll find Grandfather Mountain State Park. Home to the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountain range, this park offers several trails of varying difficulties. The most adventurous hikers might tackle the challenging Grandfather Trail, which takes you across rugged terrain, wooden ladders, and cables to the mountain’s summit. Remember, this trail is demanding, so make sure you’re prepared with appropriate gear and a good level of fitness.
Adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, the Julian Price Memorial Park offers several distinct trails. One of the most popular is the Price Lake Loop Trail, a 2.7-mile loop that circles the picturesque Price Lake, offering plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife and indulge in some tranquil reflection.
The Tanawha Trail, meaning “fabulous eagle” or “great hawk” in Cherokee, is a 13.5-mile trek running alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway. This path takes you through a diverse range of landscapes, including fields of wildflowers, lush forests, and across the awe-inspiring Linn Cove Viaduct.
When you’re looking to stay a little closer to home, BRMC boasts over 6,000 acres and is home to an intricate network of trails that cater to adventurers of all levels. You can also join Lifestyle Director Kali Woodlief on regularly-scheduled guided hikes within the gates of BRMC and beyond. RSVP on the BRMC Life App and keep an eye out for these exciting excursions on the Events Calendar. There’s over 50 miles of trails, each carefully crafted to showcase the best of the region’s flora, fauna, and views. Here’s a closer look at the exceptional hiking opportunities available to members of this community.
- Watson Gap Trail
This is a perfect starting point for those new to hiking or for families with young children.
The trail is well-marked and primarily flat, allowing for a leisurely walk through the
woods. As you wander through the lush greenery, keep an eye out for native bird
species or deer that are often spotted in the area.
- The Blue Hole Trail
For the slightly more adventurous, The Blue Hole Trail provides an exciting journey. It
offers a more challenging terrain and ends at a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a
crystal-clear pool – The Blue Hole. This spot provides a serene location for picnics or
- The Dugger Creek Trail
This trail is an excellent option for those seeking a more strenuous workout. The Dugger
Creek Trail winds alongside a babbling creek, leading you through dense forests and
along the mountain’s contour lines. The soothing sounds of the creek, coupled with the
rich green foliage, make for an invigorating and therapeutic journey.
- BRMC Lookout Tower Trail
For breathtaking panoramic views, the Lookout Tower Trail is a must-visit. This moderate
hike culminates at the Lookout Tower, where hikers are rewarded with 360-degree views
of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The vibrant mix of blues and greens stretching as far as
the eye can see is a sight you won’t forget.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll amidst nature, Blue Ridge Mountain Club and its surrounding areas offer a diverse range of trails designed to cater to all levels of experience and fitness. With every turn and trail, you’ll find yourself further immersed in the stunning beauty that is the hallmark of Blowing Rock, NC.
As always, before setting out on any hike, remember to check the local weather forecast and trail conditions. Always carry sufficient water, snacks, and a basic first aid kit, be mindful of wildlife, and stay on the designated trails. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and remember that in the mountains, the weather can change rapidly. Happy hiking!