Travel Advisory (Updated 9/21/21): It is recommended that people continue to avoid travel to the Cruso area of Haywood County. This includes a portion of Highway 276 with bridge and roadway damage. Additional access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is available at 215, 23/74, and 19. The Haywood County TDA will continue to update this travel advisory as new info becomes available. #HaywoodStrong Learn More

Easy Hiking Trails to Explore in the Smoky Mountains


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Family Friendly Spring Break

There’s nothing quite like the NC Smokies: the fresh air is abundant and you’re more ready than ever to get out into some wide open, uncrowded spaces and start adventuring. The good news is, you don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer to take on these trails: all you need for a light Smoky Mountain hike is your gear, a picnic basket, your favorite hiking buddy, and an easy trail with all the sights.  Lucky for you, we have it right here in Haywood County. What are you waiting for?

Black Balsam Knob

Difficulty Level: Easy
Length: 0.5 Miles
This treeless bald is a perfect short hike for families, day hikers, picnickers, photographers, and those looking to summit surrounding peaks. The hike to the top is brief, and the views at the summit are so mesmerizing, they’ll make the decision to head back in for the night a tough one. After a short and steady climb in elevation through magnificent Balsam Fir trees, Black Balsam Knob will come into view. There, you’ll see a rocky landscape covered in wildflowers, blueberries, and blackberries—along with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain ranges. We’ll make this easy for you: Black Balsam Knob is a must-see during your trip to the Smokies.

Hikes near Asheville

There are several other trails with spectacular views near Black Balsam Knob should you care to extend your hike. Pisgah Ranger District Maps are available for purchase at our Visitor Center or your local outdoor retailer if you’d like more information on how to make loop hikes.

Max Patch

Difficulty Level: Easy
Length: 1.4 Miles
If you’re looking for the perfect spot to stargaze, watch a sunrise or sunset, or have a romantic mountaintop picnic, take your crew to Max Patch. This relatively short hike is a family-friendly, fan-favorite destination that sits on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. You can also access several other trails on the Parkway from this spot. Take a short hike up a slight incline to enjoy incredible views like the one above, and find out why this grassy bald is beloved by hikers, dogs, and families.

Appalachian Trail at Max Patch

Stop into nearby Clyde, NC to fuel up for your Max Patch hike at one of our restaurants, or to recharge afterward.

Boogerman Hiking Trail

Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate
Length: 4.2 Miles
This easy-to-moderate family-friendly hiking trail is a 4-mile loop with an elevation gain of only 900 feet. Though one of the longer trails on the list, it’s a gorgeous hike well known for its variety of magnificent old-growth trees and crystal-clear streams. The trailhead sits on Caldwell Fork Trail, beginning with a log bridge crossing, and running by the old Carson Messer homestead. Though there are only pieces of the home remaining, this is a very special part of the trail that symbolizes the long-standing history in Haywood County.

This trail is perfect for those who are interested in a lengthier hike and looking to learn more about the area’s past.

Graveyard Fields

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Length: 2.3 Mile Loop
Believe it or not, the name Graveyard Fields comes from the appearance of the landscape after logging and fire destroyed much of the forest and soil: the tree stumps left behind looked like gravestones. Don’t let the name scare you off—this popular hike sits off the Blue Ridge Parkway and has access to not just one, but two beautiful waterfalls. The Lower Falls is just a third of a mile from the parking area but does have a few uphill sections on your walk back. From the multi-tiered second falls, you can continue on a farther trek to the tall cascades of the upper falls. The trail winds through a stream-filled valley filled with wild blackberry and blueberry bushes that burst with fruit in the late summer months. Graveyard Fields makes for one unforgettable hike.

Graveyard Fields and Falls Overlook Hike

Devil’s Courthouse

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Length: 0.5 Miles to Summit
Devil’s Courthouse can be found on the Blue Ridge Parkway and presides over some of the most spectacular views in the Blue Ridge Mountains. From its 5,720-foot summit, you’ll be able to see into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee on a clear day.

Another trail with an interestingly spooky name, it’s possible that Devil’s Courthouse may have been named after its oddly ominous rock formation, or because, as legend holds, the devil held court in the cave that lies beneath the rocks. According to a Cherokee tale, this cave is the private dancing chamber and home to the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla. Whatever the source of its name—Devil’s Courthouse is a must-see during your visit.

Devil's Courthouse

This mostly paved trail isn’t far from other popular hiking spots like Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, and Richland Balsam. If you’re into chasing waterfalls, you can venture to the backside of the mountain to find Courthouse Falls, just an easy hike from NC HWY 215.

Waterrock Knob

Difficulty Level: Moderate
Length: 1.2 Miles
The last hiking trail along the Parkway as you travel toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is scenic Waterrock Knob. If any members of your group don’t feel like hiking, savoring the view from a picnic table near the parking area will still provide a panoramic look at the Smoky Mountain landscape—an adventure in itself. If you do choose to hike, the 1.2 miles out and back trail will take you up a moderate incline and reward you with stunning scenery along the way and at the summit. Waterrock Knob is one of the best places to watch a sunrise or sunset.

Waterrock Knob Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway

This hiking spot is just a quick 15-minute drive from Maggie Valley, where you can grab breakfast to fuel up for your hike or find some more Smoky Mountain activities for your group to get into.


An easy hike is a perfect addition to your spring break itinerary. After your hike, you can cool off at some of the best watering holes in North Carolina, find some more action on the golf course, or unwind with a fishing pole in your hand. No matter what adventures you decide to fill your spring break with, make it Smokies style.

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