Ashe County Hiking Trails
With the warmer weather here to stay for the season, it is time to plan a few trips to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Ashe County has to offer. North Carolina’s “Lost Province” is in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains - offering a perfect respite from hotter weather experienced in the summer months at lower elevations in the southeast.
While there are near endless options to explore the great outdoors in western North Carolina, some of the best hikes in the state are in and around Ashe County. Clear mountain rivers, panoramic views of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, rushing waterfalls – you name it. Locals in Ashe County are blessed with multiple nearby well-maintained trail systems, and terrain suited for all abilities. Some of these hikes are virtually in our listings’ backyard, so check our website to find your perfect mountain getaway.
Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
Mount Jefferson is a prominent peak that rises above the towns of Jefferson and West Jefferson. Visitors can drive close to its peak and access several hiking trails with impressive views of Ashe County and beyond.
Mount Jefferson offers 541 acres of natural woodlands with long-range views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
The natural area features hikes for all abilities ranging from 0.3-4 miles in length. The most popular trails are Rhododendron Trail, Mountain Ridge Trail, Lost Province Trail, and Spur Trail. Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is especially popular due to its proximity to many of Ashe county’s best restaurants and attractions within the urban centers of Jefferson and West Jefferson.
Rhododendron Trail is magnificent in early June when the native purple Rhododendron is in bloom. The trail is 1.1 miles and has stunning views of the valley below with views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Laurel Springs, Ashe County, and Allegheny County.
Doughton Park has more than 30-miles of hiking trails, camping, picnicking, a restaurant in season, and many more attractions. More information on Doughton Park hiking trails.
Elk Knob State Park
Elk Knob State is part of the amphibolite range – a prominent part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The amphibolite-gneiss rock (for which the range is named) yields a more neutral soil – enabling an abundant diversity of plant life. In the summer months, these mountain peaks are lush with wildflowers and other vegetation. Other notable peaks of the amphibolite range include Snake Mountain, Rich Mountain, Potato “Tater” Hill, and Three Top Mountain.
Hiking in Elk Knob State Park
There are several popular hikes in Elk Knob State Park that are especially beautiful with the greenery of the spring and summer. The summit trail (4-mile round trip) is one of the most popular trails. It offers an expansive view of three states (Virginia and Tennessee, aside from North Carolina). Hikers see a variety of wildlife as well as a plethora of wildflowers along the trail. In addition to the summit trail, there are also options at the saddle of Elk Knob that gain less elevation while still offering a tranquil outdoor experience. Maple Run Trail and Beech Tree Trail are great options for those looking to get outside but not climb to mountain peaks. Both loops are around a mile and offer visitors a peaceful escape into a pristine Appalachian Mountain forest.
The Cascades Trail, found just north of Deep Gap along the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a hidden gem treasured by Ashe County locals. The most common start for this hike is at the Cascades overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 272. From the overlook, it is a tame hike to “the cascades” – formed as Falls Creek tumbles down a cliff and begins descending over a thousand feet into the Yadkin Valley. The turn-around point of the hike features one of the most impressive views: a 200-foot waterfall framed by mountain laurel and rhododendron which blooms in the early summer.