Asheville is a well-known destination for those seeking outdoor adventures. White water rafting, mountain biking, hiking – you name it, it is world class and close by.
Canopy zip lines are quickly becoming a major attraction in our area, with the Blue Ridge mountains providing a perfect place to go high and fast. Two zip-line outfits, both close to town, offer a range of options for an adrenaline rush.
This is one of the biggest zip-line/canopy tours in the area. They have a whole tree-top adventure, with zip-lines, sky bridges, and rappelling. It is only about 20 a minute drive, a little deeper into the mountains. They recently installed a new set of ‘racing’ zip-lines, with three lines stretching nearly three-quarters of a mile long, 350 feet above the forest floor!
Another option is the Zipline Canopy Tours at The Adventure Center of Asheville. This is a whole complex with everything from single track to climbing walls, high-rope courses, and the only zipline within the city of Asheville. They are a complete one-stop adventure center.
Asheville is home to some serious world class mountain biking. The closest trails are at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, with tons of single track and gravel rides about 20 minutes from downtown Asheville. The biggest decent by far is down Greenslick. Dual tracks can take you up, and then get ready for a fast and flowy decent!
Slightly farther afield is the Dupont Forest, considered some of the best riding to be had in the South East. Almost 90 miles of trails all through the forest, with a range of technical challenges. One of the all-time best rides there is the Ridge Line loop, a 6+ mile loop with great flow and a killer descent at the end.
If you need to rent a bike, let us know and we can help arrange that for you. There are plenty of top-quality bike shops here, and depending on where you want to ride, there are good options all over.
The mountains in Western North Carolina receives so much rain that this area is considered a temperate rain forest. With all that rain comes plenty of white-water rafting! The number one outfitter in this area is the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC for short), and they have two operations nearby. The closest is out of Marshal, NC – about a 30-minute drive. From there you can ride down the French Broad River, with the option of going down Frank Bell’s Rapid, a Class IV drop.
The other option is to go out to the NOC’s home base on the Nantahala River. From there you can have a guided rafting experience, or rent a ducky and cruise the river by yourself. This river is primarily Class II, with a few Class III rapids.
There are so many hiking trails in this part of the country, it is difficult to make a recommendation. However, in the interest of adventuring, here are two moderate to strenuous hikes that are well worth the effort. Both these hikes will take up most of the day, so plan accordingly.
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Looking Glass Rock
The first is the hike up to the top of Looking Glass. One of my all-time favorite hikes, this one starts in the Pisgah National Forest in Brevard – about a 45-minute drive from Asheville. This 6.4-mile out and back hike takes you through all types of forests, from deciduous groves of oak and maple to fir tree sections, and finally up through rhododendron tunnels. Once you get to the top of the mountain, the trail continues down the other side for about a quarter mile, finally letting you out onto the top of Looking Glass – a sloping rock face that offers an incredible view – just don’t drop your water bottle! Here is a link with a map and more info: https://www.hikewnc.info/besthikes/davidson-river/looking-glass-rock
Going farther afield is the hike up to the top of Cold Mountain. This is a classic hike for this area, a 10.6 mile out and back trip that follows along the Art Loeb Trail. You start at the Daniel Boone Scout Camp, about a 45-minute drive from Asheville. From there the trail climbs over 3,000 feet to the summit. There are surprisingly few views along the way as the forest here is so thick. However, be prepared for some fantastic views of the Shining Rock Wilderness once you get to the top. Definitely worth the effort! Here is some more info and a map: https://ashevilletrails.com/shining-rock-wilderness/cold-mountain-hiking-art-loeb-trail/
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