It’s the Year of the Trail in NC. Here Are 8 Trails To Get You Started.

Linville Falls is one of many natural beauties you can catch in our guide to North Carolina trails. (Shutterstock)

By Leah Sherrell

April 14, 2023

The “Year of the Trail” is a two-birds-with-one-stone campaign and celebration of North Carolina’s “vast network of trails, greenways, and blueways.” Our list includes land and water trails. 

You may have seen some new blue signs around town proclaiming 2023 as “The NC Year of the Trail,” and if you were wondering if that meant our state was introducing a nature-based zodiac calendar (which is definitely what I thought), I’m sorry to say that’s not quite the case. 

It’s still pretty cool though. 

The Year of the Trail is a two-birds-with-one-stone celebration of North Carolina’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation. North Carolina has a “vast network of trails, greenways, and blueways” throughout our mountains, rivers, cities, and coastal areas. 

The mission of the Great Trails State Coalition — an alliance of NC nonprofits, conservancies, and agencies — is to encourage everyone to get out and try these trails, advance accessibility on them, and show local communities and legislators the importance of our outdoor spaces. 

We’ll salute that.

Here’s our list of trails to get you started on your Great Trail State exploration: 

Dry Falls Trail, Highlands  

Dry Falls, near Highlands, NC, has been a popular site for over 80 years. The newly constructed overlook provides a beautiful view of the 80-foot waterfall, and the half-mile trail gives visitors a unique view from behind the waterfall. 

Wolf Rock Trail, Traphill

Wolf Rock Trail at Stone Mountain State Park is a 2.5 hike that takes a little more than an hour to complete. Reviews on All Trails say the hike is easier than some of the others at Stone Mountain and provide great views of the Blue Ridge Mountain escarpment (where the mountains abruptly transition into the foothills), and ridges that divide tree watersheds.

Linville Falls Hiking Trails 

Erwins View Trail and the Linville Gorge Trail are two trails that lead you to Linville Falls. Erwins View is a 1.6-mile roundtrip hike that features four overlooks of the falls and the Linville Gorge. The Trail has varying levels of difficulty, so at any point, you can turn around. 

The Linville Gorge Trail is a strenuous 1.4-mile hike that takes you through rock cliffs to the bottom of Linville Falls.  

Flytrap Trail, Carolina Beach  

This 2.7 mile loop is an easy 50-minute walk in the longleaf pine forest at Carolina Beach State Park. It’s a peaceful trail and you can also see carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytraps and Pitcher Plants that are native to NC. 

Neuse River Greenway Trail 

The Neuse River Greenway Trail is a 27.5-mile walking path that connects Wake and Johnston counties through Raleigh, Wake Forest, Knightdale, and Clayton. On this greenway you can enjoy views of the Neuse River, portions of boardwalk over wetlands, and historical sights.  

Carolina Thread Trail

Sponsored by the Catawba Land Conservancy, the Carolina Thread Trail is a network of trails that connects 15 counties in North and South Carolina. Centered around the Charlotte area, their search tool helps you find trails from Hickory to Albemarle. 

Dan River State Trail 

This 90-mile state trail is a paddle trail for those who want to experience nature in a kayak or a canoe. It stretches through Surry, Stokes, and Rockingham Counties and you can find different launch points and kayaking companies. The Dan River Company in Stokes County provides canoe and kayak rentals and shuttle services on a 6.2-mile trip that’s perfect for beginners. 

Beaufort to Shackleford Banks 

This paddle to the pristine and largely undeveloped Shackleford Banks is for experienced kayakers. It’s about a 2-mile trip from Beaufort’s public boat ramp on Lennoxville Road to an island with wild horses, loggerhead turtles, and perfect sites to hang out for the day or camp for the weekend. 

The only way to reach Shackleford is by boat, but if kayaking isn’t your thing, or you want a laid back trip to Shackleford, you can catch one of the ferries!


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.


Local News

Related Stories
Share This