The rolling, mountainous terrain of western North Carolina near Asheville is simply gorgeous. Tree-covered mountain summits and grassy balds fill the horizon. And deep cut river valleys and gorges slice through the landscape, spilling and tumbling and diving in scores of majestic waterfalls.

When river meets towering rock, something seemingly magical happens, as water begins to tumble and spill into a pool below. Waterfalls are simply beautiful. They’re strikingly photo-worthy. And those tumbling tendrils of water somehow stir remarkable emotion in the soul.

In Asheville’s mountainous and river-filled terrain, waterfalls are plentiful: there’s no shortage of great waterfall hikes to be found near the city. We’ve hiked many, exploring the area’s towering and thundering falls to the more gentle cascades set in stunningly beautiful forest. With so many amazing falls, it was tough to choose ten, but we’ve carefully hand-picked our favorites, all under a two hour drive from the metro Asheville area. Pack a picnic and hit the road: it’s time to chase some classically gorgeous North Carolina waterfalls.

Hike the Rainbow Falls Trail at Gorges State Park.
Hike the Rainbow Falls Trail at Gorges State Park.

Asheville Trails

1.Rainbow Falls Trail

Rainbow Falls is a stunner, tumbling down over a towering, 150-foot cliff in a single, dramatic drop. Hike theRainbow Falls Trail from Gorges State Park near Cashiers, NC to a series of spilling falls on the Horsepasture River and abundant summertime wildflowers.

Hike DuPont State Forest to Triple Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls.
Hike DuPont State Forest to Triple Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls.

Asheville Trails
  1. Triple Falls, Hooker Falls & High Falls

Three incredibly beautiful waterfalls, in less than five miles: it’s a falls-filled adventure. Hike a three-trail combo at DuPont State Forest near Brevard tothree of western North Carolina’s most beautiful and popular waterfalls.

Hike to the Linville Falls waterfalls at Linville Gorge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hike to the Linville Falls waterfalls at Linville Gorge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville Trails

3.Linville Falls Trail

The Linville River makes a dramatic entrance into Linville Gorge, spilling down through a steep-walled rocky wonderland in a multi-tiered waterfall. Hike theLinville Falls Trail to three overlooks of the falls, or the nearbyPlunge Basin Trail to an up-close view of the waterfall on the gorge floor.

Hike the High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville near Cashiers, NC to a stunning double-drop waterfall.
Hike the High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville near Cashiers, NC to a stunning double-drop waterfall.

Asheville Trails

4.High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville

Drop from the shores of Lake Glenville through a lush, green forest into a steep-walled gorge on theHigh Falls Trail, catching views of High Falls as it tumbles in a double-tiered waterfall.

Hike to the Graveyard Fields waterfalls off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hike to the Graveyard Fields waterfalls off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville Trails

5.Graveyard Fields Waterfalls Trail

Graveyard Fields, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, is a land of rolling meadows filled with wildflowers, wild blueberries and blackberries, and stunning waterfalls. Hike a relatively easy 3-miler on theGraveyard Fields Trail to the upper and lower waterfalls, and trek through some incredibly beautiful terrain.

Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to this multi-tiered waterfall and popular summertime swimming hole.
Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to this multi-tiered waterfall and popular summertime swimming hole.

Asheville Trails

6.Skinny Dip Falls Trail

Hike toSkinny Dip Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall that cascades into deep pools of crystal clear, chilly water. Framed in steep, angled rock and rhododendron, the falls are gorgeous, and it’s one of the most popular summertime swimming holes near Asheville.

Hike to Dry Falls, a towering walk-behind waterfall near Highlands.
Hike to Dry Falls, a towering walk-behind waterfall near Highlands.

Asheville Trails

7.Dry Falls Trail

At barely a quarter mile, roundtrip, it’s more of a roadside attraction than our typical definition of a hike. But it’s really, incredibly beautiful. TheDry Falls Trail wraps behind the 65′ waterfall, offering a unique behind-the-falls waterfall view.

Hike to Moore Cove Falls, a 50-foot waterfall that spills into a beautiful, forested cove near Brevard, NC.
Hike to Moore Cove Falls, a 50-foot waterfall that spills into a beautiful, forested cove near Brevard, NC.

Asheville Trails

8.Moore Cove Falls Trail

Between Brevard, NC and the Blue Ridge Parkway,Moore Cove Falls tumbles dramatically in a single sheet from a tall rock outcrop in a beautifully forested cove. It’s a great, family-friendly hike nearLooking Glass Falls.

Hike to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, near Cashiers.
Hike to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, near Cashiers.

Asheville Trails

9.Whitewater Falls Trail

At just over a half mile, roundtrip, this hike packs a ton of scenic beauty into a short stretch of trail. Hike to two overlooks on theWhitewater Falls Trail to catch views of upper Whitewater Falls as it tumbles and cascades more than 400 feet, the highest waterfall in North Carolina.

Hike the Catawba Falls Trail near Old Fort, east of Asheville, through a waterfall-filled river valley.
Hike the Catawba Falls Trail near Old Fort, east of Asheville, through a waterfall-filled river valley.

Asheville Trails

10.Catawba Falls Trail

One of ourfavorite waterfall hikes near Asheville, the Catawba Falls Trail crosses several shallow river fords and treks through a waterfall-filled, shady valley to a century-old hydroelectric dam and several exceptionally beautiful waterfalls.

**Waterfall photography

Love taking waterfall photos, but struggle to get that great, wispy whitewater look? You’ll need to increase your camera’s exposure time, so your camera doesn’t freeze the action and suspend the waterfall’s water droplets in mid-air.

Mount your DSLR, mirrorless camera or point-and-shoot camera with exposure controls on a sturdy, lightweight tripod. Hike to a waterfall. Frame the waterfall in your viewfinder, switch to aperture priority mode, and then set a small aperture (f/16, f/22 or smaller) and a low ISO (100). This will help force your camera into a longer exposure, slowing waterfall to a blur, and the tripod will keep the other landscape details crisp.

For the best results, don’t shoot mid-day, or on sunny days. Shooting on cloudy days, at dawn or dusk, or adding a polarizing filter or neutral density filter to your lens will reduce the amount of available light, slowing the shutter speed and increasing the wispy-water effect.

**Waterfall hiking: safety

Hike safely: since the rocks surrounding a waterfall are often wet, they’re usually slippery too, so don’t climb, swim or hike on, around or over a waterfall. Falls can be fatal. And the best time to hike is usually not after a recent rain: a high-volume waterfall can be dangerous (and when raging, usually loses some of its magical, photo-worthy beauty).

Please help preserve North Carolina’s exceptional outdoor beauty. Pack out everything you pack in, and leave no trace. And don’t drink the water, as cool and refreshing as it may look: rivers and streams may may contain harmful bacteria and parasites. Some water sources may be safely filtered.

Written by Eric Champlin for Asheville Trails and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Asheville Trails

Nestled in the Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass Rock is an iconic natural presence that beckons climbers and hikers from all over. For rock climbers, it's one of the premier multi-pitches in the South. For trail runners and hikers, it's one of the top 10 hikes around the city of Asheville (which is saying a lot considering the peaks and forests of Western Carolina are brimming with such a dazzling array of hiking adventures).

And for many, just photographing or driving past this prominent feature and witnessing it from other vantage points in the national forest area is satisfying and inspiring enough.

Everyday there are those who feel the call to summit and stand on the rounded granite face of Looking Glass Rock. And for those who do, they're rewarded with a fantastic, flat sitting picnic area and the company of commanding panoramas.

Beginning the hike to the summit of Looking Glass Rock.
Beginning the hike to the summit of Looking Glass Rock.

Jake Wheeler

Getting to the trailhead is pretty simple. Located only 5.5 miles outside of Brevard, NC on Forest Service Road 475, it's hard to miss the well-maintained and well-trodden path, not to mention the big, brown park sign showing you the way.

Not for those who are out of shape, this trail gains a total of 1,700 vertical feet in just over three miles on its way to the 4,000’ summit of Looking Glass. And a good thing to note when heading there is that this is one of the most popular hikes in Western North Carolina, so you'll want to arrive early because the parking lot can quickly fill up.

Following the yellow blazes, and getting lost in the lushness of the trail.
Following the yellow blazes, and getting lost in the lushness of the trail.

Jake Wheeler

The trail to the top is a singletrack path etched into the mountainside that switchbacks its way up the mountain for for an out-and-back journey totaling 6.4 miles.

You'll start with a comfortable stroll through thick virgin hardwoods and verdant fern gullies, following a creek up through a hollow, until the trail begins to start switching back and forth, winding its way up the backside of the mountain towards the granite dome summit. At times, this hike can be a little challenging, but the closer you get to the top, the less steep it becomes. And trust me, the views are worth the effort and energy.

Winding up one of the many switchbacks along this hike.
Winding up one of the many switchbacks along this hike.

Jake Wheeler
Towards the top, the hike begins to get a little rocky, foreshadowing the rock face summit to come.
Towards the top, the hike begins to get a little rocky, foreshadowing the rock face summit to come.

Jake Wheeler

Roughly two miles into the trail hikers will pass a relatively flat rock clearing with a large, painted “H.” From aerial heights, this “H” signals a landing pad for helicopter crews who come to rescue injured climbers. From the ground let this “H” stand as your reminder to watch your step during the rest of your journey! A spur trail leads from the back of the helicopter landing zone to the Lower Looking Glass Cliffs. Taking this short spur allows views of the main cliff face and a chance at solidarity from the crowds.

Otherwise, continue through a few open balds and scattered granite rock gardens that foreshadow the future sights ahead. You'll pass through wooded areas that have a few scattered campsites amongst them, and then you'll pass through a canopy of trees that create a rather welcoming tunnel for you to walk through as you make your way to the top of Looking Glass Rock.

The summit of Looking Glass is jaw-dropping. Just make sure you don't make it cell phone, lunch, or hiker friend dropping. Be careful.
The summit of Looking Glass is jaw-dropping. Just make sure you don't make it cell phone, lunch, or hiker friend dropping. Be careful.

Jake Wheeler
Enjoying the views from Looking Glass Rock.
Enjoying the views from Looking Glass Rock.

Jake Wheeler

The summit of Looking Glass is a somewhat of an anomaly in the Blue Ridge: it's flat-topped, thickly forested, and not particularly tall. In fact, you'll be gazing up at the mountains that engulf you, not down upon them. If you continue past the actual summit, that's where you'll reach the good stuff: the views from Upper Looking Glass Cliffs are simply good for the soul.

We recommended packing a small daypack with water, some granola bars, a camera, lunch for the summit, and a light pullover if it's windy on top. If you're thinking about hiking to the top of Looking Glass Rock, share your adventures with us by tagging #RootsRated. And remember to always Leave No Trace.

Written by Jake Wheeler for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Jake Wheeler

Home of majestic mountains, immense national forests, and seemingly infinite stretches of pristine coastline, North Carolina is not only laden with stunning natural landscape, it is also full of gritty and grueling outdoors adventures. Take your pick: churning whitewater, storm swollen Atlantic swells, high peaks of the southern Appalachians—if you can dream it, you can do it in North Carolina. These are just a few of the Tar Heel State’s most thrilling outdoor adventures.

1. Thru-Hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The 1,150-mile Mountains to Sea Trail offers stunning vistas throughout the state.
The 1,150-mile Mountains to Sea Trail offers stunning vistas throughout the state.

Joe Giordano

Stretching 1,150-miles from the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains to the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge in the Outer Banks, North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail is nearly half the length of the Appalachian Trail. Winding past rolling blue-tinged peaks, tannin-stained swamps, and mixed hardwood forests all the way to the coast, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is also arguably one of the country’s most unique thru-hikes, rambling over both the loftiest peak (Mount Mitchell 6,684 feet), the highest sand dunes on the East Coast, and past the country’s tallest lighthouse (Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, 207 feet).

2. Paddle the Intracoastal Waterway

The Intracoastal Waterway offers a wide variety of paddling options in North Carolina.
The Intracoastal Waterway offers a wide variety of paddling options in North Carolina.

US Army/Pamela Spaugy

Running 3,000-miles along the Atlantic coast, the Intracoastal Waterway was once a major trade artery, offering vessels a sheltered route protected from the perils of the open ocean. Today, the extensive thoroughfare offers excellent recreational paddling, especially along North Carolina’s coast. Sometimes offering up vast stretches of open water, in other places reduced to a narrow channel fringed by tracts of maritime forest, the Intracoastal Waterway passes everything from biodiversity-rich wildlife refuges to historic coastal towns like Beaufort, the 17th-century haunt of the pirate Blackbeard.

3. Navigate the Narrows

Whitewater on the Green River will challenge any paddler. 
    Angela Greenwell
Whitewater on the Green River will challenge any paddler.
Angela Greenwell

Featuring rapids with names like “Pincushion,” “Nutcracker,” and “Go Left and Die,” the Narrows section of the Green River is no float trip. The Class V run’s most notorious stretch is undoubtedly a section known as “The Gorilla.” This segment requires paddlers to thread a narrow, 4-foot-wide slot called The Notch before taking on not one but two waterfalls, including the 18-foot Flume and the 10-foot Scream Machine. The churning, whitewater obstacle course is celebrated every November as gutsy paddlers from all over the globe make the annual pilgrimage for the Green River Race, one of the most treacherous and technical kayak races in the country.

4. Cycle 100 Miles in the Piedmont

Savor the stunning landscapes of North Carolina’s Piedmont with an extensive ride in one the state’s most eclectic regions. Cycle past groves of towering pines, sprawling horse farms, historic tobacco towns, culture-loaded colleges, and some of the country’s most legendary fairways. Cover some serious mileage on the nearly 200-mile Piedmont Spur, stretching from the edge of the Blue Ridge to the outskirts of Charlotte. Concoct an iconic century loop linking Southern Pines and Pinehurst, known as the home of golf in America, or cycle a circuit on the 30-miles of bike-able roadway in the 7,000-acre Duke Forest.

5. Climb the Biggest, Baddest Cliff on the East Coast

Whiteside Mountain is one of the East Coast's most difficult climbs.
Whiteside Mountain is one of the East Coast's most difficult climbs.

Thomson20192

Rising 4,930 feet above the massive Nantahala National Forest, Whiteside Mountain is one of North Carolina’s most iconic summits—and one of the East Coast’s gnarliest climbs. Streaked with shimmering slivers of quartz and feldspar, the stunning slab of rock is also laced with formidable climbs, from the long routes on the southeast face to the less frequented approaches of the northwest face. If the mountain’s sheer cliffs are a little too foreboding, hit the two-mile hiking trail leading to the summit and admire the weather-warped tangle of red oak trunks crowning the summit.

6. Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon

The Black Mountain Range is home to one of the toughest races in the U.S.
The Black Mountain Range is home to one of the toughest races in the U.S.

Kolin Toney

Tackle some of the toughest terrain in in the Tar Heel State with western North Carolina’s most arduous duo of adventure races. The Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge both begin together, in the mountain-framed town of Black Mountain. For a stretch, both races follow the same route, but while the marathoners turn around at Black Mountain Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the challengers continue to the 6,684-foot summit of Mount Mitchell, covering a total of 40-miles with a staggering 4,324-foot elevation gain in the first half of the race.

7. Blowing Rock Fall Classic

Cyclists can choose from three races—or do them all—in the Triple Crown of Carolina.
Cyclists can choose from three races—or do them all—in the Triple Crown of Carolina.

Brampton Cyclist

Featuring a 72-mile loop circling the massive Pisgah National Forest—and 6,000-feet of elevation gain—the Blowing Rock Fall Classic is no Sunday afternoon ride in the park. The late September bike race is a part of the Triple Crown of Carolina cycling, which in addition to the Blowing Rock Fall Classic, includes the 90-mile Blood, Sweat, and Gears loop in late June, beginning just outside Boone, and the Beech Mountain Metric in May, which features 8,000-feet of climbing, culminating at the summit of Beech Mountain.

8. Surf a Stormy Swell

Surfing at North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Surfing at North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Heidi

North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a slender string of nearshore barrier islands, offer not only seemingly endless stretches of pristine Atlantic beaches, but they also serve up some of the premier swells on the East Coast. The combination of exposure and location, and merging forces like the chilly Labrador Current and warm Gulf Stream, make the Outer Banks, and especially Hatteras Island, consistently surf-able any time of year (wetsuits sometimes required). Even better, with an off-road (4X4) vehicle and a little wanderlust, it’s legal to drive along the Hatteras Island National Seashore until you find your own secret surf spot.

9. Slickrock Singletrack

Fall is a great time for mountain biking in North Carolina.
Fall is a great time for mountain biking in North Carolina.

Jeff Bartlett

Ride the rugged, view-laden ridgelines of the sprawling, 10,400-acre DuPont State Forest. Aside from the quad-burning climbs and technical, white-knuckle descents, both the Big Rock and Cedar trails include expansive stretches of granite slickrock dappled with plenty of dips, divots, drop offs, and sweeping Blue Ridge vistas. Craft your ideal singletrack expedition on the forest’s 80-plus miles of rideable roads and trails.

10. Bag a Brag-Worthy Day Hike

The Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness is one of the toughest day hikes in the state.
The Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness is one of the toughest day hikes in the state.

Chris M Morris

Take on one of the most challenging hikes in North America, the 13-mile Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness, spread between North Carolina and Tennessee. Fondly nicknamed “The Ballbuster” by intrepid locals, the trail includes more than a dozen stream crossings and a total of 3,700-feet of elevation gain. Besides earning bragging rights, hardy hikers are rewarding with stunning vistas of untouched wilderness.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated in partnership with Visit North Carolina and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Jeff Bartlett

Home of majestic mountains, immense national forests, and seemingly infinite stretches of pristine coastline, North Carolina is not only laden with stunning natural landscape, it is also full of gritty and grueling outdoors adventures. Take your pick: churning whitewater, storm swollen Atlantic swells, high peaks of the southern Appalachians—if you can dream it, you can do it in North Carolina. These are just a few of the Tar Heel State’s most thrilling outdoor adventures.

1. Thru-Hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

The 1,150-mile Mountains to Sea Trail offers stunning vistas throughout the state.
The 1,150-mile Mountains to Sea Trail offers stunning vistas throughout the state.

Joe Giordano

Stretching 1,150-miles from the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains to the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge in the Outer Banks, North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail is nearly half the length of the Appalachian Trail. Winding past rolling blue-tinged peaks, tannin-stained swamps, and mixed hardwood forests all the way to the coast, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is also arguably one of the country’s most unique thru-hikes, rambling over both the loftiest peak (Mount Mitchell 6,684 feet), the highest sand dunes on the East Coast, and past the country’s tallest lighthouse (Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, 207 feet).

2. Paddle the Intracoastal Waterway

The Intracoastal Waterway offers a wide variety of paddling options in North Carolina.
The Intracoastal Waterway offers a wide variety of paddling options in North Carolina.

US Army/Pamela Spaugy

Running 3,000-miles along the Atlantic coast, the Intracoastal Waterway was once a major trade artery, offering vessels a sheltered route protected from the perils of the open ocean. Today, the extensive thoroughfare offers excellent recreational paddling, especially along North Carolina’s coast. Sometimes offering up vast stretches of open water, in other places reduced to a narrow channel fringed by tracts of maritime forest, the Intracoastal Waterway passes everything from biodiversity-rich wildlife refuges to historic coastal towns like Beaufort, the 17th-century haunt of the pirate Blackbeard.

3. Navigate the Narrows

Whitewater on the Green River will challenge any paddler. 
    Angela Greenwell
Whitewater on the Green River will challenge any paddler.
Angela Greenwell

Featuring rapids with names like “Pincushion,” “Nutcracker,” and “Go Left and Die,” the Narrows section of the Green River is no float trip. The Class V run’s most notorious stretch is undoubtedly a section known as “The Gorilla.” This segment requires paddlers to thread a narrow, 4-foot-wide slot called The Notch before taking on not one but two waterfalls, including the 18-foot Flume and the 10-foot Scream Machine. The churning, whitewater obstacle course is celebrated every November as gutsy paddlers from all over the globe make the annual pilgrimage for the Green River Race, one of the most treacherous and technical kayak races in the country.

4. Cycle 100 Miles in the Piedmont

Savor the stunning landscapes of North Carolina’s Piedmont with an extensive ride in one the state’s most eclectic regions. Cycle past groves of towering pines, sprawling horse farms, historic tobacco towns, culture-loaded colleges, and some of the country’s most legendary fairways. Cover some serious mileage on the nearly 200-mile Piedmont Spur, stretching from the edge of the Blue Ridge to the outskirts of Charlotte. Concoct an iconic century loop linking Southern Pines and Pinehurst, known as the home of golf in America, or cycle a circuit on the 30-miles of bike-able roadway in the 7,000-acre Duke Forest.

5. Climb the Biggest, Baddest Cliff on the East Coast

Whiteside Mountain is one of the East Coast's most difficult climbs.
Whiteside Mountain is one of the East Coast's most difficult climbs.

Thomson20192

Rising 4,930 feet above the massive Nantahala National Forest, Whiteside Mountain is one of North Carolina’s most iconic summits—and one of the East Coast’s gnarliest climbs. Streaked with shimmering slivers of quartz and feldspar, the stunning slab of rock is also laced with formidable climbs, from the long routes on the southeast face to the less frequented approaches of the northwest face. If the mountain’s sheer cliffs are a little too foreboding, hit the two-mile hiking trail leading to the summit and admire the weather-warped tangle of red oak trunks crowning the summit.

6. Mount Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon

The Black Mountain Range is home to one of the toughest races in the U.S.
The Black Mountain Range is home to one of the toughest races in the U.S.

Kolin Toney

Tackle some of the toughest terrain in in the Tar Heel State with western North Carolina’s most arduous duo of adventure races. The Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge both begin together, in the mountain-framed town of Black Mountain. For a stretch, both races follow the same route, but while the marathoners turn around at Black Mountain Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the challengers continue to the 6,684-foot summit of Mount Mitchell, covering a total of 40-miles with a staggering 4,324-foot elevation gain in the first half of the race.

7. Blowing Rock Fall Classic

Cyclists can choose from three races—or do them all—in the Triple Crown of Carolina.
Cyclists can choose from three races—or do them all—in the Triple Crown of Carolina.

Brampton Cyclist

Featuring a 72-mile loop circling the massive Pisgah National Forest—and 6,000-feet of elevation gain—the Blowing Rock Fall Classic is no Sunday afternoon ride in the park. The late September bike race is a part of the Triple Crown of Carolina cycling, which in addition to the Blowing Rock Fall Classic, includes the 90-mile Blood, Sweat, and Gears loop in late June, beginning just outside Boone, and the Beech Mountain Metric in May, which features 8,000-feet of climbing, culminating at the summit of Beech Mountain.

8. Surf a Stormy Swell

Surfing at North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Surfing at North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Heidi

North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a slender string of nearshore barrier islands, offer not only seemingly endless stretches of pristine Atlantic beaches, but they also serve up some of the premier swells on the East Coast. The combination of exposure and location, and merging forces like the chilly Labrador Current and warm Gulf Stream, make the Outer Banks, and especially Hatteras Island, consistently surf-able any time of year (wetsuits sometimes required). Even better, with an off-road (4X4) vehicle and a little wanderlust, it’s legal to drive along the Hatteras Island National Seashore until you find your own secret surf spot.

9. Slickrock Singletrack

Fall is a great time for mountain biking in North Carolina.
Fall is a great time for mountain biking in North Carolina.

Jeff Bartlett

Ride the rugged, view-laden ridgelines of the sprawling, 10,400-acre DuPont State Forest. Aside from the quad-burning climbs and technical, white-knuckle descents, both the Big Rock and Cedar trails include expansive stretches of granite slickrock dappled with plenty of dips, divots, drop offs, and sweeping Blue Ridge vistas. Craft your ideal singletrack expedition on the forest’s 80-plus miles of rideable roads and trails.

10. Bag a Brag-Worthy Day Hike

The Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness is one of the toughest day hikes in the state.
The Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness is one of the toughest day hikes in the state.

Chris M Morris

Take on one of the most challenging hikes in North America, the 13-mile Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness, spread between North Carolina and Tennessee. Fondly nicknamed “The Ballbuster” by intrepid locals, the trail includes more than a dozen stream crossings and a total of 3,700-feet of elevation gain. Besides earning bragging rights, hardy hikers are rewarding with stunning vistas of untouched wilderness.

Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated in partnership with Visit North Carolina and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Jeff Bartlett