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As temperatures slowly rise to mild summer levels in Western North Carolina and popular attractions reopen to visitors, it’s a good time to plan a hike.

There are countless hiking trails in WNC, from Pisgah to Dupont, from Hot Springs to Mount Mitchell and beyond. Of course it’s every hiker’s dream – but where do you start?

If you’re overwhelmed by the area’s tempting hiking trails to choose from, here are five options to choose from that have something for everyone.

Trombatore hiking trail

The Trombatore Trail is a great alternative to the more populated Bearwallow, with which it shares a parking lot. Both trails are operated by the Hendersonville-based nonprofit Conserving Carolina.

According to the Conserving Carolina website, the hike passes a giant buckeye tree estimated to be over 150 years old, clear mountain streams flowing into the Blue Ridge Pastures of Upper Brush Creek, a grassy clearing at the end of the trail, and more.

The trailhead is on Bearwallow Road near Fairview. At about 5 miles round trip and 1,000 feet of elevation gain, this hike is considered moderate to strenuous and is not ideal for novice hikers.

More: Mount Mitchell State Park’s restaurant has been reopened by a Burnsville couple. What’s on the menu?

Catawba Falls Ridge Trail

The Catawba Falls Ridge Trail recently reopened after a two-year closure and is safer than ever and still just as beautiful. With the closure came 580 hand-crafted stairs and 2.3 miles of new hiking trail. Visitors can hike under the falls, view the waterfalls, and swim in the pools.

On May 31, the trail reopened with a 300-foot-tall structure that includes the new staircase and 60-foot-tall observation deck at the lower falls. Soon, the area will see the addition of another observation deck at the base of the upper falls and the opening of the 400-foot Wildflower Trail, named for the many mountain wildflowers that line the trail.

The parking lot is located in Old Fort at the end of Catawba River Road, 3 miles from Exit 73 on I-40.

If you plan to visit Catawba Falls or any other waterfall, ensure your safety by being “waterfall aware.” Rules of thumb to keep in mind include:

  • Pay attention to all signs leading to waterfall areas.
  • Do not swim or wade upstream near a waterfall.
  • Be careful of slippery rocks around waterfalls.
  • Do not jump from waterfalls or dive into pools.
  • Do not climb on rocks above waist height.
  • Always keep an eye on your children and pets.
  • Stay on the marked paths and observation points.

More: “Gateway to Pisgah National Forest,” Catawba Falls, reopened with tower for safe viewing

Richland Balsam Trail

The Richland Balsam Trail is one of the many hiking trails on Mount Mitchell. Although it climbs to 6,400 feet, the loop trail is only about 1.5 miles long and gains less than 400 feet of elevation, meaning it’s doable for most hikers.

“When you reach the end of the trail, you’re in a beautiful spruce forest. It’s nice and cool and smells so clean,” said Greg Mitchell, Parkway Education Ranger, in a previous Citizen Times report. “There are sections that can be strenuous, but there are little clearings along the trail with benches where you can stop and rest.”

The trailhead is not located at the Mount Mitchell parking lot. Rather, it is located at mile marker 431 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Haywood-Jackson Overlook, a quarter mile north of the Richland Balsam Overlook and about 50 miles southwest of Asheville.

Visit the newly opened Mount Mitchell Café & Eatery, hike one of the area’s many other trails, or enjoy the stunning views from the observation deck while visiting Mount Mitchell.

More: New hiking and mountain biking trails in Asheville area? Conservation group tries to convert camp

Trail to Bridal Veil Falls

Recently named to a list of the best hiking trails in the country, the Bridal Veil Falls Loop in DuPont State Forest has an elevation gain of just 109 feet and, of course, offers views of the stunning 120-foot cascade of Bridal Veil Falls. The loop trail is 4.6 miles long and also passes streams, horse pastures and Lake Julia.

As an additional and fascinating extra, the trail appeared in two famous films: “The Hunger Games” and “The Last of the Mohicans”.

DuPont Forest is located in Henderson and Transylvania counties.

More: Best Waterfalls in Western North Carolina: See the highest waterfalls with short hikes and swimming spots

Hike to Crabtree Falls

About 40 miles northeast of Asheville, the hike to Crabtree Falls is strenuous, with an elevation gain of 500 feet and a round-trip distance of about 3 miles.

As the name suggests, the view of Crabtree Falls enjoyed during the hike is the highlight of the strenuous journey. The waterfall is 60 feet high and is considered one of the most impressive of the many waterfalls on the Parkway. If you want to do more than just a day trip, the Crabtree Falls campground is nearby and has tent and RV sites available.

Park at mile marker 339.5 near Spruce Pine on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

More: Hiking trails, concert series, scenic train rides: Western North Carolina’s top 10 summer activities in the US

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