Trendy Asheville, NC is known for its vibrant arts scene, complete with art galleries and an exciting culinary scene. But we were drawn to Asheville as a base for some amazing family friendly outdoor activities, in fact hiking is one of the best things to do near Asheville.
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Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Asheville
Here are the 7 best kid-friendly hikes near Asheville, NC:
Kid-Friendly Chimney Rock State Park Hikes
1. Four Seasons Trail
A visit to Chimney Rock State Park is one of the best things to do near Asheville with kids. There’s plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails, amazing viewpoints, a super high waterfall and even a live animal exhibit featuring the fauna which call Chimney Rock home.
Once you buy your ticket to enter Chimney Rock, you have a choice to make. Either hike from the parking lot to the top or take the Chimney Rock shuttle bus to the top. We always prefer to walk, so instead of taking the bus, we hiked up the Four Seasons Trail.
This moderate Chimney Rock trail winds through a beautiful deciduous forest on its way up the mountain. The hiking trail is about 1.4 miles (2.3km) long and has a gradual uphill slope.
There are a few spots where the Four Seasons Trail becomes stairs and it becomes a bit of a workout. This is especially true at the end of the trail as it ends in one long uphill staircase.
There was a Chimney Rock State Park pamphlet at the trailhead with a scavenger hunt in it, so our daughter had fun trying to find all the items in it.
This kid-friendly activity kept her interested and moving forward on the Four Seasons Trail, even though she was a little tired from a poor night’s sleep.
2. Hickory Nut Falls Trail
The Four Seasons Trail ends at a T-intersection with the Hickory Nut Falls Trail.
If you turn left, you’ll end up where the Chimney Rock shuttle bus would have dropped you off.
If you turn right, the hike continues towards Hickory Nut Falls. We turned right and continued our hike for approx 1 more mile until we arrived at the Chimney Rock waterfall.
Featured in the Daniel Day Lewis film “The Last of the Mohicans“, the Hickory Nut Falls are an impressive 404 feet tall. We enjoyed the view from the viewing platform at the base of this beautiful Chimney Rock waterfall.
To this point, our Chimney Rock hiking had been all uphill and the kids had walked most of the way themselves, so the Hickory Nut waterfall was a nice break for them.
Once we were done admiring the towering waterfall, we turned back towards the main entrance. Refreshed from their break and now hiking downhill, the kids literally ran back down the Hickory Nut Falls Trail.
It wasn’t very long before we arrived at the long set of stairs leading to the main entrance. Our 5 year old daughter climbed the stairs all by herself, but our 3 year old son needed to be picked up for parts of it.
3. Outcroppings Trail
Once at the top, we stopped and had a break for lunch. We wanted to regain some energy for the big climb up the Outcroppings Trail to the Chimney Rock Lookout. The Outcroppings Trail isn’t really a trail, it’s mostly just stairs.
There is an intermediate viewpoint halfway up the Outcroppings Trail called Pulpit Rock which provides a little taste of what is to come.
According to a sign at the beginning, the Outcroppings Trail has approximately 500 stairs, but to be honest it felt quite a bit shorter than that. (There is an elevator to the top if ~500 stairs seems too much for your family…).
With all those stairs on the Outcroppings Trail, it was a little slow going with our kids. We needed to use a lot of tricks (“there’s a butterfly waiting for you at the top of those steps”), but our kids climbed every step to the top by themselves.
Chimney Rock is the park’s signature granite outcropping. It’s a massive, vertical circular slab that rises dramatically into the sky. Chimney Rock was kind enough to form with a reasonably flat top, so it made sense for someone to build stairs up there to use it as a viewpoint.
And what an amazing viewpoint it is from the top of Chimney Rock! From up top, you will enjoy majestic views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Soaking in the incredible views made hiking to the top of Chimney Rock with the kids feel completely worthwhile.
It is possible to continue hiking up top, but we felt the kids had had enough at this stage, so we walked back down the Outcroppings Trail stairs (much quicker than going up!) to the main level below.
One of the bribes we used on the way up the Chimney Rock stairs was to allow the kids to go into the Gneiss Cave for a bit. The Gneiss Cave is a bat cave found on the main level by the stairs up to Chimney Rock.
Upon entering the bat cave, you walk a short flight of stairs down to a small chamber. The cave smells pretty bad, and unfortunately the bats were gone when we visited, but it was nice and cold down there which was a nice break from the August North Carolina heat outside!
By this stage, we had hiked a total of 3h 40m and had gone 3.6 miles (5.8km) with a total elevation gain of 1090 feet (333m). We could tell our kids were done, so we decided to take the Chimney Rock shuttle bus down to the parking lot.
Once at the bottom we took the kids to the Animal Discovery Den to see some of the critters that live in the park, such as groundhogs, turtles, snakes, etc.
4. Great Woodlands Adventure
We figured at this stage the kids would be dying to go back to our awesome A-Frame cabin near Asheville and watch cartoons, but when given the choice they wanted to do the Great Woodland Adventure hike.
This trail is a super short kid-friendly Chimney Rock hike which has many fun and educational stops along the way.
For example, one of the exhibits on the Great Woodlands Adventure shows how far a jumping spider could jump if it was human sized (the length of a school bus!). It then encourages the kids to see how far they could jump in comparison.
The kids also loved climbing under a large turtle shell and playing turtle. We stopped and read each sign along the Great Woodlands Adventure trail and played each game. The kids loved it and I’m really glad they wanted to do it.
Kid-Friendly Dupont State Forest Hikes
5. Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest
The day after our visit to Chimney Rock State Park, we drove to the Dupont State Forest south of Asheville to hike the very popular Triple Falls Trail.
We arrived at the Triple Falls trailhead around 9am and managed to get a parking spot. (When we left around 1:30 the parking lot was full and there were cars parked for a great distance along the highway).
Triple Falls Trail is a fun, kid-friendly hike near Asheville which winds through a mixed forest and gives reasonably easy access to multiple large & impressive waterfalls. The first waterfall is Triple Falls, which is a 120′ tall, beautiful, three-tiered waterfall.
Further up the Triple Falls Trail is High Falls, which is also 120′ tall but is a single fall. Both of these Dupont State Forest waterfalls offer viewing areas viewing areas above and below the waterfall.
The hiking trails in Dupont State Forest are nice and wide which makes for a fun family hike as everyone can walk together side-by-side. The Triple Falls Trail can get steep at parts, but not for very long distances.
It can also get wet near the lower waterfall viewing areas, so watch your kids closely to ensure they don’t slip and fall into the river or a large puddle. There are multiple covered picnic areas for lunch or snack breaks.
What’s great about Dupont State Forest area is that it is full of kid-friendly hiking trails, so you can do as much or as little as you want.
The hiking trails are well marked, but we used our AllTrails app to plan our route ahead of time. We did the Triple Falls Loop and added on a secondary loop to go see the covered bridge which crosses the river just above High Falls.
There is also a short kid-friendly hike from the parking lot to yet another waterfall called Hooker Falls. We were going to do this hike as well, but it started to rain pretty hard, so we went back to our cabin instead.
All together we walked 4.5 miles (7.3km) in just over 4 hours (including lunch and snack breaks). The Triple Falls Trail was easy enough that both kids walked every inch, making it one of their longest hikes yet!
Kid-Friendly Pisgah National Forest Hikes
6. Looking Glass Falls
We drove to the Pisgah National Forest first thing after breakfast on Day 3 in Asheville with our kids and stopped at Looking Glass Falls.
These beautiful 60′ waterfalls are very close to the highway and can be reached by descending a few flights of stairs. There is a paved viewing platform here for all to enjoy the Looking Glass Falls – a popular thing to do with kids in Pisgah National Forest.
But there is an opening in the platform so people can get onto the rocks and closer to the Looking Glass Falls. Down here there are some shallow pools at the base of the waterfall where people can get into the water and enjoy themselves.
Splashing around shallow river pools is one of our kids favorite things to do while hiking, so we wanted to treat them to some time to just play and have fun in the water.
The locals were all complaining about how cold the was, but coming from the Canadian Rocky Mountains, we know what cold mountain water feels like, and this isn’t it.
The water in the pools below Looking Glass Falls was chilly, but very bearable and the kids didn’t complain about the water temperature once. They had a great time exploring, throwing rocks, sticks and leaves and just being silly kids. A great stop!
7. Graveyard Fields
After Looking Glass Falls, we jumped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit the popular kid-friendly Graveyard Fields hiking area near milepost 418.
The Graveyard Fields hiking area boasts several modest waterfalls and a nice hike through a river valley. There are several hiking trails in Graveyard Fields the area which give a variety of options for lengths and difficulty.
The Graveyard Fields hike was a nice enough in its own right, but what made this hike special was the ripe wild berries! We had read that the Graveyard Fields hike has massive amounts of wild blueberries and blackberries which ripen in late August.
We visited on August 19th and the wild berries were just starting to get ripe. Normally when we are in bear country, we try to leave wild berries for the bears to eat, but the information sign in the parking lot made it clear that personal consumption was ok.
The kids had so much fun looking for ripe berries (although our little guy just liked picking anything off the tree). Although most of the berries were not ripe yet, we still found plenty to fill our tummies!
If you are lucky enough to visit in late-August, wild berry picking is an outstanding thing to do with kids near Asheville.
As for our Graveyard Fields hike, we hiked to the Upper Falls and back for a total of 3.2 miles (5.2km). Our pace was pretty slow given the many stops to pick and eat berries, but we managed to get it done in 3h 20m.
Graveyard Fields is a reasonably flat hike, with the exception of the initial descent from the parking lot which is on a steep paved trail.
The hiking trails are in good condition and easy to walk on until you get to the second half of the hike towards the Graveyard Fields waterfalls. At this stage we had to cross several small creeks and dodge mud puddles, while the dry parts of the trail were rocky with lots of tree roots.
Our kids pace slowed way down in this part of the hike as it was much more challenging for them. The Upper Falls at Graveyard Fields were nice, and I’m glad we went, but they won’t change your life either. If you are pressed for time, you won’t miss much by skipping them.
Things to do in Asheville with Kids
After three days of awesome kid-friendly hiking near Asheville, we decided to go into town. So we drove to their trendy downtown to local favorite Vortex Donuts for a little treat.
All sugared up, we then walked to Pack Square Park, where we took the kids to “Splashville”, an interactive Asheville splash park where kids are free to run and splash and play.
The Splashville splash park is a large tiled circle with many jets which spray water into the air in a seemingly random fashion. The unpredictable nature of the water spray kept our kids running from stream to stream, giggling and laughing all the way.
If you can, bring water shoes as there are clear glass tiles over the water jets (presumably to light up the fountain at night?) which are very slippery. Our little guy nearly hurt himself twice in the first minute!
Southern USA Road Trip with Kids
- Orlando, Florida (Princess Experiences, Essential Disney gear, Disney World Tips, Kid-friendly Orlando restaurants)
- Things to do in Savannah with Kids
- Two Days in Charleston with Kids
- Two Days in Wilmington, NC with Kids
- 6 Kid Friendly Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
- 6 Kid-Friendly Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
- 7 Kid-friendly Hikes near Asheville, NC
- Things to do in Gatlinburg with Kids
- Nashville with Kids
See our full itinerary for our Southern USA road trip with kids.
Visit Asheville with Kids
Where to stay in Asheville
Family Friendly Asheville VRBO rentals
We are grateful to Explore Asheville for their generosity during our visit. All opinions are our own.
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