To appreciate why Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the best jumping-off points for some of the best hiking in America, one only needs to consider that this vibrant city of 91,500 friendly people is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This is a region of lush forests that grow over rugged, low-mountainous landscapes. The latter is interspersed with crystal clear trout streams, whitewater rapids, and the occasional inspirational waterfall.

Mount Mitchell

This peak clocks in as the highest east of the Mississippi. Topping out at 6,684 feet, Mt. Mitchell is well-worth a steep climb to the summit, where breathtaking views are the stuff of lifetime memories. A 4-mile round trip trail winds through a gorgeous high-elevation forest ecosystem dotted with lovely wildflowers, friendly wildlife, and heavenly scents of fragrant mosses that serve up some natural aromatherapy as you commune with Mother Nature.

Craggy Gardens

This is another high-elevation trail, but it is less demanding than Mt. Mitchell. It’s a 1.9- mile hike that ascends through remarkable tunnels of blooming rhododendrons. The top of Craggy Gardens offers a scenic overlook that shows a vast landscape of rolling blue mountains that imparts an almost otherworldly sensation of wonder.

Black Balsam Knob

This site is famous for its two grassy mountain balds, Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob. Both offer amazing 360° views that hikers enjoy while they stand among literally millions of colorful wildflowers of the spectacular variety. Black Balsam Knob exceeds 6,000 feet. It’s a relatively long trek up there at 5.1 miles. Look for the Art Loeb and Ivestor Gap trails.

Graveyard Fields

It doesn’t sound like a pretty name for a beautiful hiking trail — but don’t worry – there are no graves here. This location gets its name from a huge storm of more than 100 years ago that blew down thousands of spruce and fir trees along the slopes of mountains in the Pisgah National Forest.

This is among the most popular trails south of Asheville. A 3.3-mile hiking trail winds through a valley of stunning beauty that runs below the aforementioned Black Balsam Knob. Suppose you love tumbling waterfalls, forestland, and plentiful gnarly-branched rhododendron formations. In that case, this trail will charm and entrance you as you breathe the fresh mountain air and bask in brilliant sunshine.