Best Hiking in the South East

828 Real Estate presents Wednesday Walks Episode 9 – Best Hiking in the South East

Hey there! As you probably know, the High Country is one of the best hiking destinations in the south east. From Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk to West Jefferson, Vilas and Linville, there’s a little bit of everything. This will be the first installment of many that will give a quick summary of area hikes. This week we will look at Beacon Heights, the Boone Fork Trail and Elk Knob Summit Trail. Each of these hikes will offer a totally different but beautiful experience. They are also the three that are most frequented by my Airbnb guests, as they are all super approachable and give you a true sense of the Appalachian forests that surround us.

Let’s start with Beacon Heights.  Though it is one of the easiest and shortest hikes in the area, it provides spectacular views and is a great place to sit and take it all in. From Boone, you can get there via 105 S to 221, or you can take the Blue Ridge Parkway south to Milepost 305.2. The trailhead is across a dirt road, right in front of the parking area on the Parkway. At just under a mile round trip (.8 miles), Beacon Heights is a great option when you just want to stretch your legs and get some views. The hike will take you through a mix of evergreens, hardwoods and rhododendron, with the trail ambling over rocks and roots as you gain elevation fairly quickly. Soon you reach a fork in the trail where a left will take to onto the spectacular Tanawha Trail towards the Linn Cove Viaduct and a right will take you up to Beacon Heights. At the top, you’ll find two rock faces, one facing east and one facing west (perfect for sunrise or sunset!). From here you get breathtaking vistas of Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell and Table Rock Mountain. Hang out here and know you only have a short walk back to your car! Beacon Heights is just 30 minutes from downtown Boone and Blowing Rock and 20 minutes from Banner Elk. Recommended for any level of hikers and is dog-friendly.

Boone Fork is another one of my favorites. The High Country is known and loved for its huge variety of landscapes and ecosystems, so what better than a trail that takes you through “clear streams, pastures, large rock out-crops, meadows, and shaded rhododendron-filled woods” (Julian Price Trails). You’ll take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 297 where you will find Julian Price Park. The National Parks Service describes the Boone Fork Trail as moderate to strenuous and recommends allowing at least three hours to complete the hike. As a 5.5 mile loop, it makes for an awesome way to spend the day or bust out a rejuvenating High Country trail run. Along the way you’ll pass the Hebron Colony Rocks (aka Boone Fork Falls) and a plethora of swimming holes as the trail meanders along the pristine Boone Fork Creek. Although it is probably my favorite place to spend the day during the summer, if you don’t mind a little ice and the added difficulty that comes with that, the Boone Fork Trail is also beautiful in the winter. Boone Fork is 15-20 minutes from Boone, 25 minutes from Blowing Rock and 22 minutes from Banner Elk. Recommend for moderate to experienced hikers and is dog-friendly.

Elk Knob Summit Trail is a really enjoyable hike in the Elk Knob State Park. North of Boone, near West Jefferson, Elk Knob is one of North Carolina’s highest peaks at 5,520 feet (Elk Knob State Park). You’ll get here from Boone via 194 N and Meat Camp Road. The trail is a super-well maintained two mile out-and-back. Two miles of moderate to strenuous difficulty (mostly just due to the elevation gain, it is not a technical trail by any means) hiking will get you to the top of Elk Knob where you get absolutely amazing 360 degree views of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Pack a picnic, bring the camera and take a breather once you make it to one of the summit benches. Elk Knob State Park is 23 minutes from Boone, 32 minutes from Blowing Rock and 45 minutes from Banner Elk. Recommended for moderate to experienced hikers and is dog-friendly.

As we like to say, “Adventure Awaits in the 828” and these three hikes are no exception. If you want to add a hike to your day when viewing properties in the Boone/High Country area, don’t hesitate to ask us for recommendations!


Julian Price Park,

Elk Knob State Park,


About the Author
Hello, my name is Sarah Long. I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1997, I moved to Boone, North Carolina to attend Appalachian State University. I received my degree in Theatre Education and spent 6 years in Charlotte, North Carolina teaching before being given the opportunity to move back to the High Country in 2007. I began practicing Real Estate in 2007 with a small firm in Blowing Rock, before helping to open a Real Estate Franchise in the area in 2010. As the franchise grew, I began to realize my desire to get back to my roots and have more of a local connection. In 2018 I launched 828 Real Estate and fulfilled my decade long dream of owning a real estate firm in Beautiful Downtown Boone!!

I feel so blessed to live in the High Country of North Carolina with my husband Matt, a local General Contractor, and our two children, Sadie Rose and Levi. We attend Alliance Bible Fellowship in Boone. I love spending time outdoors and with my family. Between spending summers on the river or hiking and winters playing on the ski mountains- the High Country doesn’t disappoint with opportunities to enjoy God’s creation~!

I am a member of The High Country Association of Realtors, the North Carolina Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. I stay involved in the Young Peoples Network through the local board of Realtors. This group allows me to stay up to date on the latest technology and marketing for Realtors. I am also a member of the Boone Chamber of Commerce and High Country Local First.

I am a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina and successfully completed the REALTOR e-PRO course to become one of a select few real estate professionals to earn the prestigious certification offered through the National Association of REALTORS.® The REALTOR e-PRO certification course is an educational program unlike any other professional certification or designation course available, comprehensive and interactive. It is specifically designed to provide real estate professionals with the technology tools needed to assist consumers in the purchase or sale property.