Can’t-Miss Outdoor Activities in Asheville

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Asheville, North Carolina is one of the country’s most scenic and favorite vacation and recreation spots. Asheville is located in Western North Carolina, and it’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The city is perhaps best known for the sprawling, historic Biltmore Estate and the shopping and attractions surrounding it, but there’s more to the city than that. There’s also a thriving dining scene and a quirky downtown area. Another favorite part of the city is the River Arts District. Live music and street performances are a core part of the culture of Asheville as well.

In addition, Asheville is known for its beautiful natural scenery and outdoor activities. The following are some must-sees if you’re planning a trip to Asheville and you love the outdoors.

Waterfalls

Outdoorsy names the 411-foot Whitewater Falls as one of the top attractions in Asheville. Whitewater Falls is great if you want a short hike with a lot of beauty. It’s less than a mile round trip, and you can hike to two overlooks along the trails and see the soaring cascades. Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall in North Carolina.

Graveyard Falls is a hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, south of Asheville. You’ll see a meadow with wildflowers and blackberries and blueberries, along with two waterfalls. Graveyard Falls is another fairly easy hike.

Bridal Veil Files is at the DuPont State Forest, and you hike a covered bridge over the High Falls, which fall into Lake Julia.

Hiking Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest spans more than 500,000 acres around Asheville. There is stunning mountain scenery and an abundance of recreational fun to be had. The Pisgah National Forest takes up a vast majority of the north and central mountains of North Carolina.

It was established in 1916, and it’s divided into different districts. The Pisgah Ranger District is anchored by Mt. Pisgah, which is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This area offers access to waterfalls, mountain biking, and hiking.

It’s also possible to take a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Asheville, which is one of the most popular national parks.

Whitewater Rafting

Asheville was named as a “Top 10 Whitewater Town” by Whitewater Paddling Magazine. Good Morning America and National Geographic Adventurer also named North Carolina as the “#1 Vacation with a Splash.” There are outfitters at each of the six rivers located in the North Carolina mountains.

The most popular river for rafting in the area is the Nantahala. It’s a dam-controlled river, and there are class II/III rapids. The river takes about 2 ½ hours to complete and spans for about eight miles. You will have to drive about 1 ½ hours outside of Asheville to reach it.

There’s also the French Broad River, which is free flowing and is the third oldest river in the world. There are less popular but still great rafting rivers like the Pigeon River and the Green River as well.

Finally fishing is an excellent outdoor activity to take advantage of in Asheville. Fly fishing is popular throughout the area, including in the many stream-fed lakes and rivers.

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