Boone offers remarkable views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These can be appreciated from many inviting locations, including not only local patios and parks, and hikes, but also, from the cozy vantage point of your very own car as you embark on the area’s famed scenic drives.
If you really want to be impressed, you’ll strap on your hiking boots and hit the best local trails. While it’s common for Boone visitors to drive towards Grandfather Mountain State Park, there is plenty of hiking to be found near town. Give these local gems a try:
Boone Fork Trail
This stunning trail is not to be missed. It takes you through a variety of landscapes, including everything from open meadows to tunnels of rhododendron. Don’t be deterred by the five-mile length; the elevation gain is minimal, so you won’t feel all that tired by the time you complete this moderate hike. Depending on your fitness level, you should easily complete your journey within two or three hours.
Wear waterproof hiking shoes, as stream crossings are a key part of this journey. If you arrive equipped with the right footwear, the crossings can be downright exciting. The views are lovely, of course, but you’ll be especially entranced by the sound of the rushing water, which is always peaceful. Visitors frequently debate as to whether this trail is best tackled clockwise or counterclockwise.
Hebron Falls Loop
If you only have an hour or two available, head straight for the Hebron Falls Loop. The waterfalls are accessible via the Boone Fork Trail, with the trailhead conveniently located at the nearby Julian Price Memorial Park.
Like most Boone trails, this journey is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace so you can watch for the local wildlife. The full Boone Fork Trail extends five miles, but you can limit your trek to around two miles if you’re mainly intent on seeing the waterfalls.
While commonly referred to as a ‘moderate’ hike, this definitely can be challenging without proper footwear, as the rocks tend to get slippery. The hard work will pay off, however, as you will get the chance to snap photos at the gorgeous Hebron Falls. Rushing 25 feet over massive boulders, this landmark is sometimes referred to as the Hebron Colony Rocks.
Goshen River Trail
Also known as the Mountains to Sea Trail, this route is just challenging enough to have you breaking a sweat — but you’ll still have energy left over for sightseeing when you’re done with your trek. Rocks and roots abound, but that’s part of the fun. This runs jointly with the Boone Fork Trail for a time but is still worth hiking if you get the chance.
The Mountains to Sea moniker can be a bit deceiving, as this is best thought of as a peaceful walk in the woods. Yes, the scenery is beautiful, but you won’t encounter any open vistas or major lookouts. That’s not the point, however; this trail is all about immersing yourself in the enchanting forest environment.
Plan ahead, as this is a point-to-point trail and will require a return trip. Because the trail is relatively short (three miles one way) and the experience is so tranquil, many visitors are happy to hike both there and back. Others turn around near the crossing, which arrives nearly one mile into the hike.
Greenway Trail to Kennedy Trail Loop
Boone’s Greenway promotes a walkable lifestyle while encouraging residents and vacationers alike to keep active. The Kennedy Trail provides a slightly more secluded experience, although both can get busy with joggers and dog walkers. No, this doesn’t qualify as a tranquil mountain hike, but it’s definitely a pleasant option when you want to stay near town.
For this simple loop, you’ll combine the paved Greenway with a short trek on the gravel Kennedy Trail. There may be a lot of hustle and bustle for the first portion of your walk, but you’ll quickly discover a surprising sense of solitude once you hit the gravel section. You’ll appreciate the lush scenery as you make your way into the woods, where birds and even deer can frequently be spotted.
Rocky Knob Park
Extending over eight miles, the various trails at Rocky Knob Park are typically used for mountain biking but can also provide a challenging hike if desired. These aren’t for everyone, however, so it’s important to know what you’re in for before you arrive. On weekend afternoons, the trails are packed with bikers, making them less than ideal for hiking.
If you’re absolutely determined to tackle this hike, show up early so as to limit your exposure to bike traffic. Some hikers definitely are bothered by the thrill-seekers zipping by on two wheels, but others find that the bikers actually make the experience a lot more interesting. When there aren’t as many bikers around, be on the lookout for birds. The adventure playground is worth hitting up even if you don’t end up hiking; kids and kids at heart love letting loose at this exciting enclave.
From the convenience of the Greenway to the excitement of Rocky Knob Park, the Boone area offers a wealth of wonderfully-maintained trails that suit all types of hikers. Treat yourself to an outdoor expedition, complete with stream crossings, wildlife sightings, and friendly greetings from fellow adventurers.