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Truly a hidden gem in the United States, Haywood County in North Carolina is a hikers dream. Dozens of waterfalls, winding forest roads, and summits that take you to beautiful 360 degree views of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains below makes this area a must see bucket list destination. Add in the towns of Maggie Valley and Waynesville, and you have the perfect recipe for an adventure and fun filled weekend! Let’s get started on the best way to experience the North Carolina Smokies!

Guest blog – written by: The National Park Travelers

Best Airport To Use

If you plan to fly in and make either Maggie Valley or Waynesville your home case during your trip, the closest major airports would be Asheville (AVL) at 25 miles away, and Greenville/Spartanburg (GSP) at 60 miles away.

Where To Stay

Waynesville and Maggie Valley will be your two go to cities for exploring this area. Both offer that small town charm, with plenty of shops and restaurants to spend the day unwinding after hiking. During our trip we stayed in Maggie Valley with Maggie Valley Yurts and Tiny Log Cabins.

We couldn’t recommend this experience enough. We stayed in what is called a Yurt. This was our first experience and it was such a unique and memorable stay. The location is in Maggie Valley and a short drive to Waynesville. Also right in the middle of all of the hiking action the area has to offer. These are brand new lodging options and all of the Yurts were spotless and beautifully furnished.

Hikes We Recommend

Waterrock Knob 
Difficulty (easy)
Distance (0.9 miles)
Estimated hiking time (40 minutes)

 One of the most popular hikes in the area and with good reason! This short but sweet hike will reward you with some of the best sweeping views of the beautiful mountains below. This trail starts off at a pedestrian viewing area which is great for those with any disabilities or looking for a good spot to sit down and have a picnic during sunset!

Skinny Dip Falls
Difficulty (easy)
Distance (1. mile)
Estimate hiking time (30 minutes)

A very fun trail to hike! Another short but sweet trail well worth the time. Taking you to a beautiful stream with a gorgeous waterfall. You can take some time hear to cool off during a summer day as the stream is a beautiful place to sit and take in the views and sounds of the waterfalls around you.

Soco Falls
Difficulty (easy)
Distance (0.2 miles)
Estimated hiking time (10 minutes)

One of the shortest but most memorable hikes in the area. This quick .2 mile hikes takes you to a double waterfall. Not often we get to see two waterfalls directly on side of each other so this one was definitely a treat to see! There is some ropes people use to hold onto to descend closer to the waterfall itself so use caution if you plan to do this at the very end!

Sunburst Falls
Difficulty (Easy)
Distance (0.2 miles)
Estimated hike time (5 minutes)

This waterfall can be viewed from the bridge from the road. However we recommend parking and getting out to get a closer look. Multiple flowing waterfalls underneath the beautiful brick bridge is sure to provide a nice break during your drive around the area!

The Boogerman Trail
Difficulty (difficult)
Distance (7.3 miles)
Estimated hike time (3 hours)

This is a good hike for those looking to challenge themselves. With about 1000ft elevation gain, this trail leads you throughout old growth forests and along streams. Also crossing one of the longest footbridges in the area!

Black Balsam Knob via Art Loeb Trail
Difficulty (moderate)
Distance (1.5 miles)
Estimated hiking time (50 minutes)

The perfect sunrise hike in the area. We really enjoyed this one as you slowly begin your ascent up above the tree line. The trail is well maintained and takes you weaving through beautiful thick bushes towards the end. Leaving you atop the rock mountain with stunning panoramic views in all directions.

Max Patch Loop
Difficulty (easy)
Distance (1.5 miles)
Estimated hike time (45 minutes) 

One of the most popular hikes in the area and with good reason. This is a beautiful spot for sunrise or sunset as you will be high above the tree line with views all around. Perfect spot for a picnic on the grassy plain as well!

Devils Courthouse Trail
Difficulty (easy)
Distance (0.8 miles)
Estimated hike time (30 minutes)

Easily some of the best views in the area, Devils Courthouse takes you to the top of the rocky mountain terrain overlooking the beautiful Pisgah National Forest area below.

 

 

“Maggie Valley, Waynesville, and all of the North Carolina Smokies area blew us away and need to be on your next bucket list destination if you’re looking for an area that offers plenty of hiking, charming towns, and all of the shops and restaurants you could ask for. Just a quick drive away from the Smoky Mountains, but at a much slower and more relaxed pace! This is the perfect family getaway destination!” – National Park Travelers

 

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