Across the great state of North Carolina, a wealth of outdoor adventures await the intrepid explorer and fearless nature enthusiast. From mountain biking to horseback riding, river rafting to spelunking and all things in between, its beautiful mountain-spattered scenery and pleasantly temperate weather make North Carolina a splendid place to spend hours, days, or weeks outside. If it’s hiking that strikes your particular fancy, any one of a thousand different hikes around the state would surely satisfy. But know that you need not to look further than Maggie Valley to find a wealth of exciting and scenic hikes that vary in length, difficulty, and in the unique natural treasures to be found along the way.
Maggie Valley represents the convergence of two great mountain ranges: The Blue Ridge Mountains and The Smoky Mountains. Trailheads are abundant and can take hikers up into either range or might just meander in and around the verdant valley floor. Hikers can expect to encounter waterfalls, mysterious caverns, dense forests, wide-stretching fields, and even the remains of bridges and cabins used by loggers and trappers of a bygone era. You have but to choose which adventure suits your tastes, and be on your way.
Alum Cave Trail
For a relatively mild and shorter hike (coming in at only 4.4 miles), try the Alum Cave Trail hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This scenic trail takes hikers through old growth forests, passing small waterfalls, babbling creek beds, and the remnants of historic cabins. Alum Cave brings hikers face-to-face with some of the unique geologic wonders of the area and makes for a great photo opportunity (though if you’re posing in the mouth of the cave, do beware of dangling icicles). Hikers hoping for a longer trek can continue past Alum Cave Bluff to the top of LeConte Mountain, a more strenuous, uphill climb that turns your round-trip hike into an 11-mile outing.
For another hike that can be made either long or short to suit your needs, visit Boogerman Trail. This 4.2-mile trail is marked “moderate” in most guidebooks, surprising as it never broaches an elevation gain of more than 900 feet. Yet visitors to this trail can expect a descent into the truly rustic, with old log bridges crossing babbling stream beds and the remnants of a centuries-old cemetery hidden in the underbrush of the dense forest. Depending upon where you join up with the trail, this 4.2-mile hike can be turned into a 7.4-miler: hikers wanting to make it a longer day will begin their walk at the Caldwell Fork trailhead, joining up with the Boogerman Trail later on.
The Knob Trails
For some truly exceptional picture-taking from any number of breathtaking vistas, try either Black Balsam Knob or Waterrock Knob. Black Balsam Knob can be made a quick out-and-back hike of only 2 miles, or a fuller loop of 5-miles, but don’t be fooled: this short hike is anything but simple. The elevation gain at Black Balsam Knob makes this a rather strenuous climb, rewarding hikers at the top of the knob with 360-degree panoramic views of the valley floor below. Likewise, Waterrock Knob is a high-elevation trail boasting incredible mountain-top views. Waterrock Knob is the 16th highest peak in the Eastern United States, and from its peak on clear days, visitors can see out a good 50 miles across the Smoky Mountains. Watterock Knob trailhead also offers hikers the convenience of a visitor’s center with full-service restrooms and some information about points of interest around the area.
Graveyard Fields Hike
And finally, for a hike that’s a little less challenging yet no less breathtaking, visit Graveyard Fields. This 3.2-mile hike is great for families: a relatively clear path takes hikers through fields and into dense woods for an encounter with a truly impressive waterfall system. Be wary of slippery rocks, but otherwise just enjoy yourself in this tranquil and seemingly isolated setting that resides in the heart of Maggie Valley.
But no matter which trail you choose to make your next adventure, know that the hiking in Maggie Valley is second-to-none when it comes to scenic encounters with nature and a fun outing for the whole family. For more information on the many trails to explore in this wonderful pocket of North Carolina, visit https://maggievalley.org/maggie-valley-attractions/hiking-2/ or https://maggievalleynclife.com/maggie-valley-area-hiking-trails/.
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