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Find the Best Hiking Trail For You and Your Family at Nantahala National Forest and other National Forests in North Carolina
May 31, 2016
Hiking is a great physical activity to enjoy while visiting the Nantahala National Forest. This wildlife preserve is the largest in the state of North Carolina and enjoys more than 500,000 acres of sprawling wilderness. Within the forest, hikers can expect to see A wide diversity of trees and plants that include many beautiful wild flowers, wildlife, waterfalls and extraordinary views.
It’s important to know more about the Nantahalaterrain, elevation climbs, and safety precautions before heading out on one of dozens of hiking trails located throughout the park. To ensure all family members have a safe and memorable journey, pick a trail and skill level that fits your family’s needs.
Family friendly hiking
For families with young children or persons with disabilities, Nantahala National Forest has some great options. Bridal Veil Falls enjoys easy access, includes wheelchair accessible entrances, and features a stunning view of a waterfall. Similarly, Lower Douglas Falls is a moderate 1-mile hike that climbs gently throughout. The 70-foot waterfall is located in an old-growth forest and contains unique biodiversity.
Whitewater Falls is a kid-friendly hike that features the tallest waterfall in the forest—a staggering 411 feet! This outdoor trail is paved and easy for a family with small children. However, the lower observation area has several paved steps and is not wheelchair accessible.
Rufus Morgan Falls is about a mile, but has some challenging hills to navigate and includes a small stream crossing. Check out Summit and Rhododendron Trail Loop, a 1.5-mile moderate adventure through self-guided trail. Hikers will see virgin Northern Red Oak forests at an elevation nearly 5,000 feet.
The Sam Knob trail is located at the edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness. This hike is a little more than 2-miles long and is best during late summer when a wide variety of wild flowers are in bloom.
Pink Beds Loop is a longer hike for beginners (about 5 miles), is fairly flat and contains several water features. This forest is in transition, as beavers have dammed the South Fork Mills River to form unique ponds.
Experienced hikers only
Old Mitchell is a hilly climb through the forest at about 6,000 feet above sea level. Looking Glass Rock is a difficult 6.4-mile hike through steep forest in the Pisgah Ranger District. This trail is visible from many locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway.