Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds is close to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Near the end of Willow Lane, at the north end of the resort property, there is a trail that leads to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Guests also have other choices when it comes to taking short hikes –many which minimize strenuous elevation climbs.
Many visitors come to the area wanting to take short easy hikes just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have selected several easy hikes for guests of Willow Winds to consider. If you simply want to get out and enjoy nature without worrying about strenuous elevation climbs, these hikes will make for a pleasurable experience. Ask for a copy of the Carolina Mountain Club brochure when you visit the office.
Those who want more challenging trails need only consult the pamphlet for other ideas. Be prepared for a hike with proper boots, a daypack with water and food, and warm clothing and rain gear in the spring and fall for protection from inclement weather.
All Mileposts indicated are on the Blue Ridge Parkway. To begin, simply enter the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive to the milepost and look for the Mountains-to-Sea trailhead.
Milepost 381, Crossing to Folk Art Center
This 1.2 mile hike is accessible from the Folk Art Center parking lot and is designed for everyone to enjoy. Round trip, the total mileage is 2.4 – still a relatively easy distance. There are even benches along the trail for those who want to take a rest or simply pause to enjoy nature. This trail is appropriate for small children and families.
Milepost 382.5, U.S. 70 to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
If proximity to town is a deciding factor in taking a hike, this trail is an excellent choice. Try a 2.6 mile hike that is close to Asheville and connects U.S. 70 (Tunnel Road) to 74A. This section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is approximately 2,100-2,300 feet in elevation. The trail crosses the Swannanoa River and skirts the Parkway Forest near the Oteen section of East Asheville.
Milepost 384.4, Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center to U.S. 25A
This 4.1 mile hike may be a bit lengthy for some, but will be just the right distance for others. Hardy hikers from the Asheville area consider this a ‘leg stretcher.’ The trail begins on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the Folk Art Center and parallels the Parkway until the junction of 74A. Elevation gains are only 640 feet, making this trail an easy grade, though it may feel like more for those who are used to the flatlands.
Milepost 391.8, I-26 to the French Broad River
Take a leisurely 1.9 mile hike that crosses the French Broad River, takes you through thickly forested areas, and ends near the intersection of Route 26. With no elevation gains this trail is an ideal choice for those who want a low impact hike that is close to town.
Milepost 404.5, Mills River Overlook to Elk Pasture Gap
Want to leave the 2,000 feet elevation level and head for the high country? This hike is a great choice. Hikers traverse a 1.1 mile distance averaging 4,200 feet, but the total elevation gain is only 100 feet, making it an easy trail to travel. The Mills River area is right on the Buncombe and Henderson County border and is especially scenic. This trail takes hikers around the summit of Stony Bald (4,563 feet). Stop for lunch or a light snack and head back the same way.
Take some time out while visiting Asheville to hit the trail. Many of the hiking trails in the Western North Carolina area can be challenging. The hikes selected are intended for beginners who want to experience the mountains at a relaxed, easygoing pace.