If your New Year’s resolution was to work on losing a few pounds, or even just to explore the nature around you a bit more, then this is the blog for you. Asheville has long been known as the outdoor-person’s town, with all kinds of nature preserves, natural parks, and hiking trails that start right from downtown! So whether you’re looking for a bit of exercise or a new view of the city, here are five of our favorite winter hikes near Asheville that you can check out now! All of these hikes are open year round, and guaranteed to provide spectacular views of waterfalls and mountain vistas, as well as a bit of a workout so you can get your blood moving on those chillier days:
If you’re looking to explore Asheville, and get some exercise while you do it, then the Asheville Urban Trail simply can’t be beat. It’s a self-guided walking tour of downtown Asheville that takes you past more than 30 historical landmarks within the city. At only 1.7 miles, it’s easily done in an hour if you’re walking quickly, or you can make a day of it by stopping in and out of local shops to warm up. If you’re at all interested in history, or learning more about the origins of Asheville, this is a great way to learn, and get outside at the same time!
One of Asheville’s hidden treasures, the botanical gardens are located just two miles outside of downtown and offer plenty of space to walk and explore. The gardens are open every day of the year from dawn ’til dusk and require no admission. More than 50 acres of land have been planted with local species of trees, flowers, shrubs, and plants, and the botanical garden is also home to Hayes Cabin and a spring home that illustrates how our ancestors lived.
If you’re up for a little adventure, head to nearby Hot Springs for this fun trail that’s open all year round. Lover’s Leap is a loop, so you can start your hike anywhere, but we recommend you park downtown, and start from there. The trail will take you past Surprise Falls, a lovely river rapid, and up to three promontories that offer spectacular views of the mountains and the town below. Be careful walking on the edge of the promontories in the winter, as edges can become slippery. So long as you stick to the trail, you should be fine. As you walk back into town, be sure to hit the hot mineral springs for a soak before you head back to Asheville.
Just 20 miles from downtown Asheville, the summit of Bearwallow Mountain trail offers panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all year round. While the grassy meadow at the top of this trail is usually home to grazing cattle in the summer, you probably won’t see them in the winter season. This trail is accessed by either the 1-mile trail that features a number of switchbacks and steep inclines, or the gravel access road, which is equally as steep, but a bit shorter. So long as you take your hiking boots, you should be good to go either way!
John Rock Trail is a wonderful, family-friendly trail in the Pisgah forest that’s great to hike just about any time of year. There’s a small, easy to navigate nature trail if you’re taking the kids, or you can take on the entire 5.7 miles if you’re feeling a bigger walk by yourself. On the John Rock Trail, you’ll pass Cedar Rock Falls, which, if it hasn’t been too cold and there isn’t ice, you can walk behind! When you reach the trail summit, you’ll have amazing views of Looking Glass Rock above you, and the fish hatchery below you, as well as a number of mountain vistas and snowy meadows. It’s a great, moderate hike for anyone who’s looking for a bit of fresh air in the new year.
Hiking outside of Asheville? Check out Black Mountain’s Riverwalk Park
For an easy, relaxed hike around some beautiful scenery, you can’t beat nearby Black Mountain’s Riverwalk Park. Scattered with numbers of trails, beautiful patches of wildflowers in the summer, and home to Black Mountain’s only dog park, you and your favorite four-legged friend are guaranteed to have a great time. And when you’re done exploring, be sure to head into downtown Black Mountain to see what’s going on. A number of quality restaurants and shops are sure to make a day trip to Black Mountain worthwhile.
Remember to Hike Safely!
Even for experienced hikers, winter hiking requires a bit of extra care. Before you hit the trails this winter, be sure you’re following proper winter hike precautions:
- Layer up – Temps in the mountains can be as much as 10-20° colder than in downtown Asheville, and it’s usually much windier. Expect to experience that chill when you head out for your winter hike, and dress in plenty of warm layers.
- Check the weather – Before you pack up, be sure you’ve checked the weather forecast. Winter storms can come on quickly in the mountains, and the last thing you want is to get stuck in one.
- Stay hydrated, and bring snacks – You burn a lot more calories in the winter, as your body has to work harder to regulate your internal temperature. That means you’ll become dehydrated and hungry much quicker. Pack more water than you think you’ll need, and plenty of protein and granola bars. If it’s below freezing, tuck water bottles under your clothes to keep it from freezing on you.
- Bring a flashlight – It gets dark much sooner in the winter than other times of the year, and it’s easy for dusk to sneak up on you during afternoon hikes. Be sure you always pack a flashlight with new batteries, to ensure you can find your way back to the car.
- Take your phone – Even if you’re pretty sure you won’t have any service, it’s better to have a phone with you just in case. In the event of an emergency, it could come in handy.
No matter which hike you choose, you’re sure to have a good time in the mountains and natural spaces that surround the beautiful Asheville, NC. And if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to move to Asheville, know that High Hickory might just be the perfect community for you. A sustainable mountain community just outside downtown Asheville, we offer our residents the peace and quiet of the NC mountains, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city. To check out our available lots and properties, give our office a call at 866-936-5263, or request more info online today!