Boone provides convenient access to the best of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it’s easy to see why this charming town is so popular among outdoorsy types. A short drive will take you to some of the region’s finest hiking trails, where you can enjoy a memorable day out.
Don’t worry if you’re not a hardcore hiker. While you’ll have to skip some of the most prominent trails, you can still get on your feet and see some truly remarkable views — without ever leaving town.
Head for the Greenway — a wonderfully accessible trail that is welcoming to visitors of all types. Whether you want to hit the trail for a quick run, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or even explore by bike, the Greenway will provide a world of opportunities to get those endorphins going.
Boone’s Greenway extends nearly four miles in total but is typically split into shorter segments by those who prefer a slow-paced walk spanning just a mile or two. Some segments of the trail require out-and-back hikes, while others feature short loops. This is why we see different elevation gains throughout the different trail loops, with some being around 150 feet and others being around 250 feet.
Generally flat, this trail is easy to navigate due to its lack of steep inclines or declines. Its accommodating surface also helps: it’s always either gravel or paved. As such, it attracts a lot of people with wheelchairs, rollerblades, recumbent bikes, and strollers. Four-legged friends are also welcome on this trail, although they must be leashed at all times.
Finding the Greenway is easy; simply look for one of the well-marked trailheads. The best options located right in town include Clawson Burnley Park and Watauga County Recreation Complex. A paved path can also take you from the Watauga Medical Center to the main trail.
Depending on where you stay in Boone, you might even be able to walk to the trail from your accommodations. Yet another trailhead can be found near the Southgate Shopping Center and the visitor center. Build this into a fun day, complete with shopping and dining.
No matter where you start walking, you’re bound to see plenty of wildlife. Deer sightings are common, especially at dusk along the more secluded stretches of the trail. Keep an eye out for chipmunks and raccoons as well. This is also a wonderful birdwatching area, so bring some binoculars and take your time as you look for local favorites.
A few of our favorite trail segments include the following:
Clawson Burnley Park
As we previously mentioned, this park is one of the best places to leave your car as you explore the Greenway. A paved section of trail can be found near a covered bridge. Depending on where you park, you could easily use both the Greenway and the park’s paths to create a loop spanning just under a mile. This is the best option when you’re short on time and are only able to commit to a brief stroll.
If you want a solid workout, plan to walk the entirety of the Greenway’s core. This segment can form the basis of a three-mile jaunt if you hike out and back. Along the way, you’ll pass beautiful meadows, a mountain stream, and multiple bridges. You’ll also encounter the stone ruins of a hydroelectric generation station that brought electricity to Boone over a century ago.
A lovely section of the Greenway runs parallel to Winklers Creek. This accessible portion of the trail ends with a loop spanning just under half a mile. You’ll pass a local wellness center and also see plenty of dog-walkers on this stretch of trail. If you reach the trailhead at Deerfield Road, you’ll find an excellent picnic spot, as well as a station for doggy waste pickup.
Historic Dam to Watauga High School
An offshoot of the Greenway extends between a historic dam and Watauga High School. Meandering along a small tributary stream, this peaceful segment creates an out-and-back journey lasting just over one mile. If you enter the trail at the parking area near the Boone Wastewater Treatment Plant, you can add an extra mile to your out-and-back adventure.
When you want to stretch your legs without leaving the heart of Boone, you won’t find a better trail than the local Greenway Trail. Take this opportunity to explore the best of Boone as you view wildlife and wave hello to locals and vacationers alike.
-If you explore the more secluded parts of the trail, you may want to bring a bag or other solution for carrying out your trash. Garbage cans are not as abundant as some visitors would prefer.
-Because there are so many short spur trails, it’s worth your while to examine a map of the trail before you depart.
-In the winter, the Greenway is sometimes used for cross-country skiing after heavy snowfall.