This post is sponsored by Moon Travel Guides.
When visiting the mountains with children, finding a hike that the entire family will enjoy can be a challenge.
While I’ve traveled to the High Country of North Carolina (including Boone, Banner Elk, Linville, and Blowing Rock) many times in past years with my children, its been challenging to find hikes the entire family could enjoy.
However, this year when visiting the High Country that changed, thanks to the Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Guide. The detailed descriptions of the area not only helped me locate many family friendly hikes, but it also pointed out several other activities and locations we surely would have missed!
Even though I spent two years at college in Boone, I always found myself struggling to visit the area with my children. The challenging hikes and adult friendly activities I’d enjoyed during college just didn’t work when I traveled to the area with my children. Having Moon’s amazing, detailed travel guide made all the difference during my last family trip to the Boone area. My kids saw more of the area and had more fun than all our other visits combined!
Today I’m sharing my very favorite kid friendly hikes near Boone, North Carolina with you. Keep reading for the very best hiking trails, as well as several family friendly high country area travel tips.
Hiking Near Boone, North Carolina with Kids
When hiking with children unaccustomed to hiking and under 8 years old, I recommend keeping your hike under 3 miles. 1 to 2 miles is my favorite hike length for families with very young children. The distance is short enough to allow for the inevitable slow pace of a curious child. You won’t have to rush along when a child wants stop to climb on the rocks, watch bugs crawling on a tree trunk, or to rest.
Pack your lunch and head to hike Linville first thing in the morning. Take the Erwin’s View Hike, starting right beside the visitor center. If your children are very young, you can hike the first half mile of the trail, just to the Upper Falls.
Otherwise, continue on after viewing the upper falls for majestic views of the falls from Chimney View and Erwin’s View. You’ll find several uphill stretches, but at under half-a-mile of trail, you’ll have plenty of time to take breaks along the way. I did carry my 3-year-old on my back up the steepest stretch when he got tired.
*hint- Stop in at the visitor center and pick up a free map of the Blue Ridge Parkway on your way out of Linville Falls.
After hiking the Linville trail, stop for a picnic at the River Bend Overlook, where you’ll find a pretty spot to view the river and several picnic tables to enjoy your lunch. As you drive out of the Linville Falls Visitor Center parking lot, you’ll see the River Bend Overlook on your right just before arriving at the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Next jump on the parkway and drive all the way to Blowing Rock to see beautiful views of the mountains. Along the way stop to see views of Grandfather Mountain, Lost Cove Cliffs, and more. Pay special attention to the drive over the Linn Cove Viaduct at milepost 304, where you’ll drive over a 1,243 foot bridge on the side of Grandfather Mountain.
Find plentiful public parking in Blowing Rock, stop in a shop for hot coffee or apple cider, and spend the rest of the afternoon watching your children playing in Blowing Rock’s beautiful park.
Beacon Heights is a short half mile round trip hike. This trail ends on a bald rock face with stunning mountain views. While a stunning view, be sure to recognize that the hike ends on a sheer rock with no walls. I was comfortable with my older children on the rock, but I kept my 3-year-old higher on the rock within arms reach at all times. It was well worth the view, though I would not attempt this hike if I had a runner!
This hike takes at least two turns well-marked by large signs, but be sure to keep your little ones close by as you hike, otherwise part of your family may inadvertently continue along the Mountains to Sea trail.
A beautiful waterfall view coupled with an easy hike and stone walls providing a little extra safety at the overlooks make this a must do hike for families. Find Cascade Falls trail at E.B. Jeffress Park at the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 272. This moderately easy 1 mile loop trail also includes plaques along the way teaching about the trees and plants along the path. several picnic tables at Jeffress Park provide a beautiful view of the valley and mountains in the distance, perfect for a picnic lunch.
While visiting Jeffress Park and the Cascades, you could also visit Tompkins Knob Overlook just half a mile away on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a view of the Jesse Brown Cabin and Cool Springs Baptist Church (where circuit preachers used to stay when passing through town) which are just 500 yards down the trail from the Tompkins Knob Overlook parking lot.
Visit Moses Cone Park at Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 294. Hike one of the many short and easy hikes in the park along the 25 miles of carriage roads. While in the park also visit the Flat Top Manor House.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Don’t confuse Grandfather Mountain State Park with the Grandfather Mountain attraction. You can enjoy a wonderful hike without paying entrance fees to Grandfather Mountain by parking at the Boone Fork Parking area near the 300 mile mark of Blue Ridge Parkway.
From the park lot, you’ll follow the Tanawha trail for .4 miles until it connects with the Nuwati Trail. The Nuwati trail is an easy, rocky 1.2 mile hike which ends at Storyteller’s Rock with a view of the Boone Bowl. Kids will enjoy several stream crossings during this hike along with the pretty view at the end..
Even more great Boone area hikes
We travel on a very tight budget, so all the hikes we chose were free to the public. You might also want to consider hiking The Blowing Rock or the easier sections of Grandfather Mountain, which both have an entrance fee.
*Take note that the Grandfather Mountain attraction has an entrance fee.
Once inside the Grandfather Mountain attraction you’ll find several easy, kid friendly hikes. Plus you’ll be able to visit the swinging bridge, nature museum, and view several animal habitats.
The main hike on Grandfather Mountain, that I frequented as a college student is very strenuous, however you’ll find many easy trail that your kids will love as well. Take the Woods Walk for an easy, less than half a mile hike through a hardwood forrest.
While you can drive nearly right to the swinging bridge, you can also take the less than half a mile Bridge Trail.
The Black Rock Nature Trail is perfect for families. This one mile hike leads to a loop with views of Grandfather Mountain, Beacon Heights, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hiking North Carolina’s High Country with kids is a wonderful adventure! My family surely can’t wait to go back!
Be sure to pick up Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip before traveling to the High Country with your children. Not only will you find specific directions and information about most of these hikes, you’ll also find great activity, restaurant, and lodging recommendations too!
*hint- do not miss Linville Caverns and the Mast General Store!