As you probably know, the High Country of North Carolina is one of the best mountain hiking destinations in the southeastern United States. 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.
3 Most Popular Hiking Trails Near Boone
This week we will look at 3 of the most popular hiking trails near Boone:
- Beacon Heights
- Boone Fork Trail
- 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.
Tanawha Trail & Linn Cove Viaduct
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 outcrops, meadows, and shaded rhododendron-filled woods”.
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
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.
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 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.
Hiking in the High Country
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!