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What to expect

North Carolina has 2350 trails including medium, easy, difficult, and extra difficult trails. The trail with the highest elevation climb is the Sandy Ridge Wildlife Trail and the one with the least climb is the Mount Mitchell Trail. The longest trail is Mountains-to-Sea Trail at 1890 km. To complete this hike you should budget at least 96 days. For a shorter adventure, you can try the Crossing Paths Park Loop a t 295 m. This could be done in as little as 1 days. Trails with the best offering of hostels include Greenland Creek Trail, Roanoke Trail, Woodfin Creek via Mountains-to-Sea Trail - West, Steels Creek Falls, and East Main Loop.

Guide to hiking in North Carolina

Be prepared for hiking in North Carolina with the HiiKER app

FAQs about hiking in North Carolina

What is the climate like for hiking in North Carolina?

North Carolina's climate varies greatly from the coastal plains to the mountainous regions. Coastal and Piedmont areas experience hot summers and mild winters, while the mountains can be significantly cooler. However, extreme temperatures can make summer hiking challenging and winter hiking risky due to icy trails and potential snowfall.
Spring and fall offer the most comfortable hiking conditions, with moderate temperatures and lower humidity. Fall is particularly attractive as the forests explode with autumn colors.
The best time to hike in North Carolina generally spans from March to May and September to November. Regardless of the season, check weather forecasts before setting out, and visit the North Carolina State Parks website ( for trail conditions and closures.

Do I need a permit to hike in North Carolina?

Most hiking trails in North Carolina are free and open to the public without a permit. Certain areas, like state parks or wildlife refuges, might require entrance fees or permits. Contact North Carolina State Parks ( for specific information.

Is wild camping allowed in North Carolina?

Wild camping in North Carolina is allowed in many national forest areas, though restrictions apply, such as maintaining distance from water sources. Always follow "Leave No Trace" principles. For specifics, consult the U.S. Forest Service's website for the region (

Are there mountain rescue services in North Carolina?

In case of emergencies while hiking in North Carolina, dial 911. Local law enforcement coordinates with voluntary organizations for Search and Rescue operations. For safety tips and emergency information, consult the North Carolina State Parks website (

Are there dangerous plants in North Carolina?

North Carolina's flora is richly diverse, from coastal pines to mountain rhododendrons. While hiking, you might encounter blooming dogwoods in spring or fiery maples in fall. For a deeper understanding of the region's flora, visit the North Carolina Botanical Garden's website (

What wildlife should I be aware of when hiking in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, hikers may encounter wildlife ranging from deer and squirrels to black bears, especially in the mountains. Insects like ticks and mosquitoes are common in warmer months. Always respect wildlife and consider insect repellent. For more information, consult the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission