3 WNC Trails To Try in 2021

If your new years resolution includes exploring some new trails in WNC, I’ve got a couple you’ve got to check out. All 3 of these WNC trails are a short trip from Asheville.

The 3 trails highlighted here are my favorite because they are classic Appalachia, in my opinion.

And if you can’t get enough trail, when you’re done checking these out, take a look at my post on homes close to trails in the Asheville area.

Here are 3 WNC trails to try in 2021.

Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail

Why I Like It

I’ve personally given this trail the moniker of being the best trail East of the Mississippi. There are a ton of reasons to love this trail, but main reason – bar none – is the viewshed. Ok, so that’s technically more than one reason, because the views are endless along this ~5 mile out and back along the AT.

Description & Details

grassy ridge bald trail appalachian trail north carolina

Beginning at Carver’s Gap, 5,512 feet elevation, you’ll start at a very brief set of wooden stairs which lead you into a decently wooded spruce forest. At the outset, the scenery is misleading. You won’t be here for long. After a few hundred steps along the white-blaze trail, with a few tempting long-ranging views to keep you going, the trees will thin and you’ll be standing atop a sprawling grassy bald.

From here on out, you’ll be treated with spectacular 270-360 degree views as you travel from one bald to the next. On a good clear day, your visibility will reach far into the mountains of Tennessee to the North and North Carolina to the South. The trail itself is very modest – mostly packed dirt/small stones with few loose rock afoot. As you wind up and down over and through several different balds, you’ll encounter inclines that demand light attention due to some slick and loose rocks.

This trail is well worth the ~80 minutes from Asheville if you’re looking to treat yourself and loved ones.

Check out HikeWNC’s full write-up.

Pro tip: bring a light lunch and enjoy it on the trail!

Greybeard Mountain to Bullhead Mountain on MST

greybeard mountain trail mountains to sea trail asheville nc

Why I Like It

The trail follows the Mountain to Sea trail and one of the things I like so much about this trail is the true variety in landscape, climate, and scenery that comes with the changing elevation.

Description and Details

I start this trail from Graybeard Overlook at Mile Post 363, which has a great view, by the way. You’ll take the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to MP 363. It’s part temperate forest, part single track field, part bald mountain-top, part tropical brush. It’s a gradual uphill and downhill paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway eastward.

You’ll hear cars for a moment, and then the trail will break off a bit and the rest of the route becomes very quiet and peaceful. About mid-way, there is a sweet makeshift campsite under a nice stand of hemlocks. On this trail, you’ll see some really cool climbing trees.

Check out HikeWNC’s full write-up.

Pro Tip: Pay close attention on your trip: there are several small paths carved out from the main trail that will take you up through the mountain laurel to the cliff’s edge where you can get a great view north.

Black Balsam Knob via Art Loeb Trail

art loeb trail marker black balsam knob north carolina

Why I Like It

Just ~50-60 minutes from Asheville, this section of the Art Loeb trail offers stunning vistas of Asheville, Hendersonville, and the storied mountain ranges of Western North Carolina in one fell swoop. This is my favorite spot to post up and watch the sunrise over the mountains and see the rays pour over Asheville and Hendersonville in the morning.

Details & Description

spruce trees next to art loeb trail leading to black balsam knob

Black Balsam Knob is a pretty heavily trafficked area along the Art Loeb Trail offering stunning vistas of WNC. At the start of the trail, you have the option of taking a nearby alternative route along the MST, but here I’m focusing on the Art Loeb section. The trail itself is part packed gravel/stone, dirt, and rock.

At the outset, you are greeted by a thick stand of balsam fir trees (kind of similar to the Grassy Ridge Bald summit). After winding through the balsam fir, the trail opens up to a rocky bald and cris-crosses before climbing to the ridgeline where you are treated to fields of wildflowers, and views of rolling hills beneath you, Asheville and Hendersonville in the foreground, and mountains in the not-so-far distance.

If you’re looking for 360-degree views, this is it.

Check out HikeWNC’s full write-up.

atop black balsam knob north carolina art loeb trail

Pro Tip: This is a great alternative to another highly trafficked bald on the Appalachian Trail: Max Patch. If you’ve got Max Patch on your list of to-dos but need something a tad closer to Asheville, this is it.