Looking for a quick hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway? There are many choices near Asheville, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. Here are our ten favorite hiking trails that are easy to find and less than four miles in length. So they are perfect to experience the Parkway outside your car. Also, the Blue Ridge Parkway rangers lead weekly guided hikes every Friday morning (see the current list)!
1. Rough Ridge: This unique hike offers plenty of viewpoints and a wooden boardwalk over fragile vegetation. The one-mile climb to the summit features many rock outcrops along the way to enjoy the views of Grandfather Mountain, Linn Cove Viaduct and mountain ranges. Milepost 303
2. Beacon Heights: This one-mile roundtrip hike has a big pay-off with spectacular views from a smooth rock face. Since it’s a short climb, it’s great spot to take along your picnic! Milepost 305
3. Linville Falls: See five viewpoints of the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina via two trails that begin at the Visitors Center. Only one of the trails is strenuous and you can hike to all viewpoints with a four-mile hike. Milepost 316
4. Crabtree Falls: A three-mile loop trail takes you to a beautiful 70-foot waterfall with many wildflowers along the way. Milepost 340
5. Mt. Mitchell: Since you can drive almost to the summit of the highest point east of the Mississippi, a short paved trail takes you to the observation deck at the summit. The best hike at Mount Mitchell is the Deep Gap Trail to Mt. Craig (the second highest peak in Eastern USA). The two-mile roundtrip hike through a lush forest includes a good bit of climbing, but it is not overly strenuous. Milepost 355
6. Craggy Gardens: There are two great, easy hikes here. The 1.5-roundtrip trail to the top of Craggy Pinnacle provides exceptional 360-degree mountain views. The Craggy Gardens Trail runs from the south end of the Visitor Center parking area to the north end of the picnic area and crosses a rhododendron bald with peak color in mid June. Milepost 364
7. Mt. Pisgah: The popular three-mile roundtrip trail to the 5,721-foot summit is strenuous. But you can reward yourself with a hearty meal at the nearby Pisgah Inn restaurant afterwards! Milepost 407
8. Graveyard Fields: This very popular hiking spot features two waterfalls in a mild-high valley filled with wildflowers and surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains with 6,000-foot peaks. The Graveyard Fields Loop is about four miles. It will reopen in July 2014 after renovations. Milepost 419
9. Black Balsam Knob: For sweeping 360-degree views that lasts for miles along a trail, roam the bald mountaintops. Almost entirely devoid of trees above 6,000 feet, the summits are more reminiscent of New England than North Carolina. Milepost 420
10. Devil's Courthouse: This short but strenuous trail climbs a half mile to the mountaintop for panoramic views from the 5,720-foot peak. Its "devilish" look has created many folk tales to enjoy. Milepost 422
For more information about these and other stops and things to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway, go to http://www.romanticasheville.com/BlueRidgeParkway.htm. Our list covers 170 miles of the Parkway near Asheville, starting from the north near Grandfather Mountain and going south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.