Hiking in Asheville

29 October 2012

In order to offset all of the eating we did in Asheville, we went on several hikes! Being outside together in beautiful places is one of my and John’s favorite things, and Asheville in the fall certainly fits the bill. This year our hikes were waterfall themed, and as such, they were even lovelier than usual!

The first was Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC, just a few miles outside of Asheville. You can find more info on this hike here and here.

This trail is ripe for discovering hidden gems. The little guy above right wasn’t even technically part of Catawba Falls, I don’t think, but was the loveliest tucked-away pool and small cascade!

Lower Catawba Falls is above. For most hikers, this is the end of the road. The trail is pretty much flat or gently sloped to this point, so it would be great for kids!

Being the adventurous sorts we are, John and I decided to hike the remaining distance to Upper Catawba Falls. And by hike, I pretty much mean rock climb, sans gear. There’s even a rope at one point! We didn’t take pictures the rest of the way up because things got even more precarious.

Cue the chorus of angels — Upper Falls!

There were two other gals enjoying the view when we arrived, and we were surprised to see a group of six middle-aged people arrive while we were resting. (Because of how challenging the description of the latter part of the hike was, and how challenging our ascent was, we hadn’t expected to see many other hikers.) The late arrivals had entered the pool in a different way than we had, which made us curious, so once we were ready to go, we set off the way they had come. After only a short (and fairly easy) distance, we joined up with our original trail. Cue face palm. We had taken a wrong turn at this point on the way up, bypassing this moderately difficult trail in favor of a much more life-endangering trail (really not exaggerating). Needless to say, the rest of our descent was uneventful.

If you attempt the hike to Upper Catawba Falls, make sure you stay to the left at every chance you get, and make sure you can always see the Falls/gorge – we got out of eyesight range when we took our wrong turn. (The only exception to this might be in summer, when there are more leaves on the trees.)

Our second hike was Crabtree Falls, at milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was less taxing and a bit more dramatic than Catawba Falls, though I didn’t think quite as lovely. The hike is also oriented so you’re moving downhill on the out and uphill on the back, which is not my preferred mode.

For our hard work, we were rewarded with a moody sunset over the Black Mountains as we drove back down the Parkway.

I hope you enjoyed our Asheville adventures! If anyone has been to Asheville or Western North Carolina and has a hike to recommend, we’re all ears!

Note: Hiking around waterfalls is inherently dangerous. I’m sure it goes without saying, but do NOT attempt to hike directly up a waterfall, and use caution at all times whenever you’re in the vicinity of one. Also, even though we made the hike to Upper Catawba Falls more difficult than necessary, even the “easier” route is quite challenging, and should only be attempted by experienced, fit hikers.

6 Responses to “Hiking in Asheville”

  1. I loved reading your Asheville reports! We’re heading to the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains next week, and an Asheville day trip is on the list of possibilities. It all looks wonderful!

  2. Cassie

    These pictures are beautiful! What kind of camera do you use to take them?

  3. Wow – these scenes are so lovely!

  4. Melissa Carter

    Have you checked out the waterfalls in the Newland, NC / Avery county area near Ashville? I went to the area for a Spring Break Habitat trip and we went on a new waterfall hike everyday! It might not have as many nice eateries or antique shops,(I stayed in Habitat lodgings) but you never know!

  5. Em

    Thank you so much, ladies! @Cassie: Most of the photos were taken with our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 (digital), and a few were taken with our iPhones!