Enjoying the view on the summit of Bearwallow Mountain in Western North Carolina

Western North Carolina offers no shortage of beautiful mountain hikes. Bear Wallow Mountain is a popular 1 mile out-and-back trail featuring a 600 foot climb up to a beautiful meadow. As it is located just 30 minutes outside of Asheville, this hike is quite popular with active locals as well as tourists looking to explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge region. This trail is especially rewarding as you get to enjoy beautiful mountain views in exchange for no more than a moderate hike. The 4232 foot summit is the highest in the Hickory Nut Gorge, a 20,000 acre canyon which is home to numerous waterfalls and natural wonders.

The hike

Hiking the Bearwallow Mountain trail in Western North Carolina

The trail is super shady thanks to dense tree coverage. The journey up to the summit is tranquil – the perfect place to detox from the computer and enjoy some much needed time in nature. It’s so green in the dark forest and oftentimes misty, that it almost feels like you are hiking in Ireland. We were lucky enough to see a cow right on the trail – a unique experience to say the least. This area is a protected working farm with grazing cattle. You will likely see lots of cows when you reach the summit. Occasionally, they can be seen roaming the trails as well.

A few views from the climb up to the summit

Cow on the Bearwallow Mountain trail in Western North Carolina
A cow makes an appearance on the trail

If you are up for a bigger adventure, you can connect to the Wildcat Rock or Trombatore trail at the summit. The Trombatore trail features a hard 1000+ 2.4 mile climb to a beautiful grassy bald area. If are in tip top shape, it’s worth consideration.

The trek back down is a bit more relaxing as you can take your time, and recover from the heart pumping climb up. Many beautiful spring wildlfowers, along with a scenic overlook can be enjoyed on the return route. While there are a few steeper downhill sections, fortunately several built in staircases make the journey a bit easier. A hiking stick and quality hiking shoes always come in handy on any hike for extra traction. Some hikers choose to take the service route back.

A few views from the trek down

Views from the summit

Scenic vista on the summit of the Bearwallow Mountain hiking trail in Hendersonville, North Carolina

On a clear day, you will enjoy gorgeous 360 degree panoramic views of the mountains thanks to the treeless open meadow. The skies are often misty with rolling clouds over the mountains, which really sets the scene for some amazing photos. Mt Pisgah and Mt. Mitchell (the tallest summit east of the Mississippi), as well as the Hickory Nut Gorge comprise the backdrop. This is a popular sunrise and sunset destination, so if you can time your hike just right, the views will be even more dazzling. Also, it’s not unusual to see yoga groups in the mornings – what a gorgeous destination to enjoy a rejuvenating stretching session.

Views on a cool misty summer morning

Cows at the summit of the Bearwallow Mountain trail in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Address & Parking Info:  4854 Bearwallow Mountain Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Parking is free (roadside). Hours are 8am-8:30pm. Notes: Trail is pet friendly, bikes not permitted. Arrive early to ensure parking as spaces are limited.

Nearby attractions

Chimney Rock State Park – Climb 499 steps up this 500+ million year old monolith for an amazing panoramic view of the Hickory Nut Gorge.

Gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge mountains at Chimney Rock State Park in Western North Carolina

Hickory Nut Falls hike – This easy 0.75 mile out-and-back trail at Chimney Rock State Park leads you to the 2nd tallest waterfall in the state. This 404 foot tall beauty was featured in The Last of the Mohicans.

404 foot tall Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park in Western North Carolina

Lake Lure – Take a narrated tour around what National Geographic has called “one of the 15 most beautiful lakes in the world.” See popular filming locations from Dirty Dancing and explore film memorabilia via a small museum.

Breathtaking scenery via a Lake Lure cruise

Check out my full guide to exploring Western North Carolina

What to eat

A few great Asheville restaurants which open early, serve great coffee, and are moderately priced

Biscuit Head – Homemade cathead biscuits, GF and vegan options, local coffee (Pennycup), self service jam bar, gravy flights (vegan available). Opens at 8am.

Biscuit with Fried Chicken Gravy at Biscuit Head
Biscuit with Fried Chicken gravy

City Bakery – Best homemade pastries in town, fantastic cinnamon rolls and croissants, bagel sandwiches, top notch coffee. Opens at 7:30m.

Amazing cinnamon roll, chocolate croissant, and a rich house coffee from Dynamite Roasting

Old Europe – Fantastic pastries and coffee in a quaint setting downtown. Opens at 7am.

Mocha and Americano at Old Europe Pastries in Asheville, North Carolina
Mocha and an Americano in a lovely quaint setting