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!




About the Author

"I am a proud Boonie and feel grateful to call the High Country home. Hailing from Rome, Georgia, I am the youngest of three brothers, the proud son of a German and a native Atlantan. It only took one college visit for me to fall in love with Boone in 2011. After four years of school and various jobs in the community, I was offered an opportunity to hit the road and work all over the East Coast. I worked in construction management/sales and property inspections for insurance companies. The year of 2018 was a monumental year for me as it saw me complete my degree in Business Management and buy my home in downtown Boone, where I run an Airbnb (the Bent Street Bungalow). I live with my two dogs, Redman and Junior, and spend more time than I should in my garden or out in the woods with my pups. I bring a passion for people, connections and diplomacy to the table and love applying that to being a Realtor. My experience in construction and sales provide a unique set of tools for the world of real estate. I am so excited to help you facilitate your Boone experience and truly believe there’s no place quite like the 828. I love Boone for the normal reasons—cool air, storied mountains, vibrant rivers and so on, but I also love Boone because it is just so easy to have a good day here. The community is unlike any other I have experienced and I look forward to growing with it for a long time to come. Working in real estate is my full-time endeavor so I am fully invested in helping you with my knowledge of the area, my enthusiastic work ethic and my creativity in marketing to ensure that the best possible result is achieved.”