Are you exhausted from city life? Need to relax and get back in touch with nature? Let the chirping of birds ease your mind as you walk deeper and deeper into the forest. The rustling of leaves overhead as the wind blows through the branches will bring you closer to finding serenity. But best of all, take notice of the sounds you don’t hear. No car noises, no sirens, no television commercials, no email notifications. Just you and nature.

If you’re looking for a hike near Asheville, look no further than in Madison County! It is home to the Appalachian Trail and has hundreds of miles of trails both on the AT and in the Pisgah National Forest for hikers to enjoy. Below are some of our favorites that accommodate all fitness levels and distances.

“Our family loves hiking so we love coming to down to Madison County where we can get our fill of incredible mountain views, beautiful trails and glorious nature.

-Jon H.

Hiking in Madison County, NC

Hikes on the Appalachian Trail

Max Patch – 1.7 Miles (easy)

There’s a good chance you’ve seen photos from Max Patch as it’s a favorite for photographers and nature lovers. Max Patch is a popular and iconic stop on the Appalachian Trail that provides stunning 360 degree views west of Spring Creek. Find out more

Lover’s Leap – 1.7 Miles (moderate)

Lover’s Leap is a short and popular hike in the Pisgah National Forest that offers breathtaking views of Hot Springs and the French Broad River. Find out more

High Rock – 3.3 Miles (moderate)

North of Mars Hill, Sam’s Gap to High Rock is a hilly and shady hike that boasts a dramatic view at the perch along the Appalachian Trail. Find out more

Rich Mountain Fire Tower – 5 Miles (hard)

This low-trafficked, 5 mile out-and-back hike on the Appalachian Trail has spectacular 360 degree views of the mountains atop a restored firetower near Hot Springs. Find out more

Big Firescald Knob – 4.5 Miles (hard)

North of Marshall, the hike at Big Firescald Knob is a beautiful  and challenging hike that showcases stunning 360 degree views of the Appalachian Mountains and long range views of Tennessee. Find out more

Big Bald – 13 Miles (hard)

Just north of Mars Hill, Sam’s Gap to Big Bald is a strenuous 13 mile out-and-back hike on the Appalachian Trail with amazing 360 degree views at the summit. Find out more

Other favorite hikes

Betty Place Trail – 1.3 Miles (easy)

The Betty Place Trailhead is located northwest of Bluff and is a tranquil and quiet hike that takes hikers through rich cove forests and passes tumbling creeks. Find out more

Spring Creek Nature Trail – 1.6 Miles (easy)

In western Madison County, in the Spring Creek community, The Spring Creek Nature Trail is a beautiful and easy trail that runs along the peaceful Spring Creek. Find out more

Hickey Fork Falls – 2.4 Miles (moderate)

In the remote Shelton Laurel area of Madison County, the trail to Hickey Fork Falls is a peaceful, out-and-back hike that crosses creeks and takes hikers to a spectacular, veiled waterfall. Find out more

Bailey Mountain Preserve – 4.2 Miles (moderate)

Located in Mars Hill, the summit hike at the Bailey Mountain Preserve is known as the Richard L. Hoffman Trail and is a great out-and-back trail with fantastic views.  Find out more

Laurel River Trail -7 Miles (easy)

East of Hot Springs, The Laurel River Trail is a relaxing out-and-back trail that follows the breathtaking Laurel River on an old railroad bed. This trail is great for the whole family. Find out more

Have other hikes in Madison County we should add?

Check this out!

Restaurants in Marshall

Nothing beats a tasty meal and a cold drink after a long day of hiking in beautiful Madison County. Marshall as an eclectic assortment of an excellent restaurants to choose from. Find out more

8 Ways to relax in Madison County

It’s time to chill out and relax. Get away from the concrete and crowds of nearby Asheville and come over to Madison County where there are bunch of ways to unplug, unwind and decompress. Find out more

The Grasslands Mountain Observatory

If it’s a clear night be sure to check out the schedule of this amazing observatory near Marshall. Join amateur and expert astronomers at the Grasslands Mountain Observatory for an evening of awe-inspiring star gazing. Find out more

Places to stay in Hot Springs

Get out of that city noise and relax in the rural mountains of North Carolina. Hot Springs, NC is home to a huge range of cabin rentals and other accommodations for your perfect getaway. Find out more