I would be remiss if I didn’t preface this post with a little information about our family. We’re pretty “city.” Not that we don’t appreciate spending time outside, because we do. But our idea of outdoor activity includes sports, playgrounds, neighborhood bike rides, days on the beach and occasional yard work. Our annual camping trip involves pitching a tent in the backyard and roasting marshmallows in our fire pit.
However, in our attempt to show our kids the world we’ve realized we can’t miss the natural land. Of course, big cities have so much to offer. But then again, so do the undeveloped natural landscapes and more rural settings. To show our kids this part of the world, we’ve forced ourselves out of our comfort zone.
After visits to two National Parks this year (where we mainly just drove through), we were ready to explore off the beaten path. Our recent trip to Asheville proved the perfect time to work a hike into our schedule. I researched simple/easy hikes for families close to Asheville and came up with several options.
Our first stop on The Blue Ridge Parkway was to the visitors center. We wanted to learn all we could about the area prior to our hike. We were able to watch a wonderfully educational and entertaining video to gain insight into the mountainous culture. Also, at the Visitors Center I tossed out a few of the options I’d found online to get their opinion about the best one for our family. Best of all, we finally got to purchase a National Parks Passport (see Friday Favorite for details!)
Based on our proximity to Asheville and our skill level, we ended up at Craggy Dome. Here are the reasons Craggy Dome is the best hike for kids near Asheville:
- Location: The parking lot for Craggy Dome is about 20 miles north of the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Visitors Center. The drive is gorgeous!
- Length: The hike from the parking lot, to the top, and back down is less than a mile and a half.
- Difficulty: During your hike you ascend 445 feet (and then obviously descend the same.) In plain English- for non-hikers who don’t relate to that at all, like me- the length and duration of the hike make it not very steep. At times you are walking on almost level ground. For short periods of time you walk up a medium-grade hill, and only at the very end do you climb the equivalent of about 2 staircases.
- Obstacles: I can walk a city street any day. If I’m going to consider a walk, a “hike” there needs to at least be the illusion that I’m doing something out of the ordinary. On your way to Craggy Dome you will follow a footpath that takes you over a few rocks and tree roots. Although you can virtually avoid them all together, the kids especially liked traversing the unfamiliar terrain.
- View: What fun would a hike be if you ended up somewhere anti-climatic? The view from Craggy Dome makes every step worth it (and then some!) The 360 degree views are ridiculously gorgeous!
Where is your favorite place to hike with kids?