Have a yen to try a local hike, but don’t know where to begin? Join Buncombe County Recreation Services for scenic day hikes close to home this spring and summer. The Sampler Hike Series is a free six-pack of popular treks lead by trained leaders on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Explorers of all skill levels are invited to experience the fun of one hike, all six, or somewhere in between.
“People who are new to the area or just want to meet new friends will enjoy the six hikes that we’ve assembled for the Sampler Hike Series,” said Mac Stanley, Outdoors Coordinator for Buncombe County Recreation Services. “We’ve chosen simple to moderate hikes of varying distances. Hikers will be able to enjoy wildflower blooms in April, leaves turning in September, and the magic of a mountain summer in the months between. This is a great chance to establish a wellness routine and socialize with other local nature lovers.”
All hikes are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Each will end at 12:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. The Hike Leader will be easily identifiable as a Buncombe County Recreation Services team member.
- April 27 (Saturday): Snowball Trail – Enjoy a plethora of butterflies and breezes during this hilly, moderately strenuous 3-mile hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several picnic tables are available to enjoy a lunch from home afterwards. Meet at Craggy Gardens Picnic Area (Blue Ridge Parkway MP 367.6 in Barnardsville).
- May 12 (Sunday): Craven Gap – Wildflowers, wild mountain mint, and prickly pear cactuses line this easy 2.5-mile out and back hike. Meet at Craven Gap parking area (Blue Ridge Parkway MP 377.4 in Swannanoa).
- June 2 (Sunday): Forrest Falls – Follow the winding tributary of Shope Creek to a small, but pretty, waterfall along the gentle ascent of an old Forest Service Road on this 3-mile hike in one of the newest public areas of Pisgah National Forest. Meet at Shope Creek parking area (481 Shope Creek Road in Asheville).
- July 13 (Saturday): Alexander Mountain Bike Park – Catch stunning views of the French Broad River and plenty of native flora on this hilly trail that was designed with lots of pump-style dips and rolls, banked turns, and rocky sections for local bike riders. The hike should end around 1:30 and several picnic tables located on the banks of the river are available at Alexander River Park across the street. Meet at the Alexander Mountain Bike Park parking area (2589 Old Marshall Highway in Alexander).
- August 17 (Saturday): Douglas Falls – A steep, moderately rugged trek brings a plethora of views and dramatic cascades in a beautiful old-growth forest over the 2.5-mile out and back trail. The road leading to and from the trailhead is a popular “car hike” with several small roadside waterfalls. Meet at the Douglas Falls parking area (Dillingham Road in Barnardsville to the Big Ivy sign, continuing on the unpaved Forest Service Road 74 to its end).
- September 15 (Sunday): Collier Cove Nature Preserve – Newer trails with small treats such as a play meadow and splashing streams highlight this trail with a 360-degree view that includes the summits of Bearwallow Mountain, Little Pisgah Mountain, and the upper end of Hickory Nut Gorge. This medium-steep hike is a 2-mile loop and its suburban location offers plenty of lunch options nearby. Meet at the Collier Cove Nature Preserve parking area (175 Rhododendron Drive in Arden).
What to Bring Hiking
Daypack or backpack
Weather-appropriate clothing (The temperature and wind can change with elevation, so moisture-wicking shirts and layers are recommended.)
Hiking boots or shoes
Hat or bandana (optional)
Trekking poles (optional)
Knife or multi-tool (optional)
First aid kit (optional)
Well-behaved dogs with well-behaved owner on leash are welcome to join. Make sure to bring plenty of poop bags. Dogs must remain on leash or a citation and fine may be issued.
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