North Carolina offers excellent hiking and backpacking opportunities, with over 1,000 miles of scenic trails winding through the Appalachian Mountains and forests.
Popular destinations include the Appalachian Trail, Linville Gorge, Shining Rock and Grayson Highlands.
In this post, we’ll explore hiking and backpacking in North Carolina from a lightweight perspective, offering helpful tips to prepare for your upcoming outdoor journey.
This guide will showcase the five best trails in North Carolina, broken into two sections: The first will cover day hikes of less than 25 miles, perfect for exploring the beauty of the area in a single trip. The second will feature multi-day adventures where you can replenish your supplies every couple days.
We’ve selected what we think are some of the finest day hiking trails in North Carolina where using ultralight gear can really help maximize your enjoyment:
Explore the scenic trails in North Carolina, where you will come upon resupply points at regular intervals of no more than two days apart:
North Carolina’s climate varies across different regions, but in general, the state experiences a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons:
It’s important to check the specific weather forecast for the region you plan to backpack in, as North Carolina’s climate can vary between the mountains and the coastal areas.
Before you make your gear selection and head to the trailhead, take a look at the annual weather averages for North Carolina (Asheville):
Campfires are generally allowed while backpacking in North Carolina, but there are some restrictions to be aware of. In the forested areas of Nantahala, Pisgah, and Uwharrie National Forests, campfires are only permitted in designated campfire rings in established campsites. Backcountry campfires elsewhere require a permit from the ranger district office. There is often a seasonal ban on campfires during dry conditions.
When backpacking in North Carolina, you might come across wildlife like black bears, venomous snakes, and other animals. To stay safe, learn about the wildlife in the area from park brochures and rangers. Store food right, throw away trash, and make noise while hiking to prevent surprises with animals. If you encounter wildlife, stay calm, step back slowly, and don’t get too close. Be careful around snakes, move cautiously through bushes, and keep hands and feet away from small openings.
Embark on an outdoor adventure deep into the nature of North Carolina, but take key precautions. Before trailing through winding forests, grab a detailed trail map and make sure someone knows your plans. Pack bright clothing, first aid essentials, whistles and flashlights in case the rugged natural terrain leaves you stranded after dark. Stay on marked paths and make noise to avoid surprising bears or other wildlife. Bring plenty of water, as adventure kindles thirst. With the proper preparation, you can revel in natural wonders while backpacking across North Carolina safely. Keep your gear in order, focus on the journey ahead, and always remember that prudent planning prevents poor performance when seeking adventure in North Carolina’s magnificent wilderness.