Nestled in the hills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is the city of Asheville, North Carolina. An enjoyable spot to visit all year long, Asheville is home to arguably the best art and music scene in the entire Tar Heel State.

In the fall, however, Asheville becomes even more appealing as the entire Blue Ridge Mountain range transforms into a jaw-dropping collage of vibrant red, orange, and yellow trees. Catch the best colors this September through October on these five fantastic fall hikes.

Graveyard Fields Trail

The base of a waterfall at Graveyard Fields in the fall.
A waterfall featured in the Graveyard Fields trail (photo by Jeff Gunn / CC BY 2.0).

To see a little bit of everything Asheville’s outdoors has to offer, visit Graveyard Fields Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 418.8 (about thirty miles south of downtown). A moderate challenge, the winding trail curves through fields of wildflowers, past cascading waterfalls, and alongside bright berry patches.

In the crisp air of fall, this destination is in its prime thanks to the stunning foliage that sprinkles the 3.3 miles of well-maintained pathways. It is also one of the few hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway with restrooms.

Directions: Simply drive south of Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 418.8, about thirty miles from downtown. Free (and limited) parking is available near the overlook at Milepost 418.

Beacon Heights Trail

The Linn Cove Viaduct flowing through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The nearby Linn Cove Viaduct (photo by NPS).

Adventure into the rocky forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a day hike on the Beacon Heights Trail. At every point, this roundtrip, moderate one-mile hike offers stunning views of bright fall colors. Grandfather Mountain and Blue Ridge Parkway are the stars of this trail and those who take the time to make it to the top are privy to some of the most breathtaking panoramas Asheville has to offer.

Nearby hikes include the Linn Cove Viaduct and Julian Price Park.

Directions: Follow along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 305.2. Free parking is available at the trailhead.

Wildcat Rock Trail in Hickory Nut Gorge

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Wildcat Rock Trail in Hickory Nut Gorge.
Sunset from the Wildcat Rock Trail (photo by Conserving Carolina).

Nearly four miles round-trip, the Wildcat Rock Trail in Hickory Nut Gorge is one of the newer trails in Asheville, completed in 2017 through the work of Conserving Carolina. This moderate-to-strenuous trail offers a myriad features from babbling brooks to the wide fields of Bearwallow Mountain – the perfect location to stop, have a picnic and enjoy the sweet autumn views of North Carolina.

Directions: From Asheville, take I-240 East to US-74 ALT East toward Chimney Rock for about 14 miles. You’ll see a small parking area on the left side of the road in front of a stone walled kiosk. Once parked, you should see a sign that reads, “Upper Hickory Nut Gorge Trailhead.” The entrance to the Wildcat Rock trail is across the street.

Biltmore Estate Trails

The front of Biltmore Estate.
Asheville’s Biltmore Estate (photo by 24dupontchevy, CC BY-SA 4.0).

On the grounds of the gorgeous Biltmore Estate lies more than 22 miles of trails for estate visitors with an annual pass or day ticket. A day can easily be spent hiking the variety of relaxed, moderate, or challenging trails that wind around the lagoon, past the farm, and through the fields near the enormous mansion. In the fall, sturdy trees all across the property show off their regal colors for visitors from near and far to enjoy.

There are thousands of acres to enjoy during your visit. However, please be mindful to avoid hiking on paved roads as estate drivers are often sightseeing and may not see you.

Directions: From downtown, take Biltmore Avenue toward Biltmore Village. Turn onto Lodge Street and then into the estate. Follow signs for Antler Hill Village and stop at the Outdoor Center.

Rough Ridge on the Tanawha Trail

A view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Rough Ridge.
The summit view of the Rough Ridge trail (photo by NPS).

Rough Ridge on the Tanawha Trail is a slightly challenging hike with great rewards. Along the trail, rocky pathways give way to wooden bridges and steep inclines that lead to the summit. Once there, a dense forest of vibrant colors releases hikers into a beautiful, open sky showcasing a jagged mountain ridge lined with the majesty of autumn.

This unique, must-see trail truly creates memories that last a lifetime for everyone who takes the hike.

Directions: Follow along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 302.8. Free parking is available at the trailhead.

Remember, the best time for fall colors in Asheville is late September through October. The color begins to change at the tops of the mountains and slowly works its way down to the valleys. Come visit this fall to see for yourself! Visit the fall leaf guide for additional information.