Best Hikes Near Cherokee, NC

12 Best Hikes Near Cherokee, NC (+ How Far They Are)

By Olivia Williams

Are you ready to lace up your boots and start exploring the stunning hikes near Cherokee, NC? Youā€™ve just hit on the most comprehensive guide that will quench your thirst for discovery! Get ready to dive into the wild journey through the beautiful trails surrounding the town we all love. Whether youā€™re a hiking pro or simply want to go for a light trek, this North Carolina Trail guide will accompany you along your path. So, pick up your favorite water bottle as we set off for the best hikes around Cherokee, NC!

From hikes nestled directly in Cherokee to stunning vistas just a short drive away, we’ve rounded up the 12 must-try hikes for your next outdoor adventure in Western North Carolina. And yes, we’ve done the legwork to ensure you know exactly how far you need to travel to find these spectacular spots. Trust me, they’re worth every step!

Here is the list of best hiking trails located within a reasonable distance of Cherokee, North Carolina

Get ready to explore some of the most beautiful scenery in the region!

Trails Directly in Cherokee, NC

  1. Oconaluftee River Trail
  2. Judaculla Rock

Trails Very Close to Cherokee, NC

  1. Mingo Falls
  2. Soco Falls

Trails Within Reasonable Driving Distance of Cherokee

  1. Fire Mountain Trails
  2. Mingus Creek Trail
  3. Smokemont Loop Trail
  4. Chasteen Creek Cascade
  5. Kephart Prong Trai
  6. Kanati Fork Trail
  7. Lonesome Pine Overlook
  8. Deep Creek Loop Trail

Now, letā€™s detail each trail with the specified length and depth to capture their unique aspects fully!

Best Hikes Near Cherokee, NC: Your Ultimate Trail Guide

If you are tired of excursions and are eager for adventures, take a hike near Cherokee, NC, to refresh. Each trail has its own pattern of natural beauty, physical tests, and quiet solitude. Below is a list of simple family trails and complicated mountain climbs. 

Local Hikes in Cherokee, NC

Oconaluftee River Trail

A Riverside Hike in Cherokee, NC

Elk Cow and Calf Cross Oconaluftee River in Fallā  Image by KellyvanDellen

Perfect for families and casual walkers, the Oconaluftee River Trail is the most accessible trail, located in the heart of Cherokee. Approximately 1.5 miles long, this trail follows the flow of the Oconaluftee River, offering picturesque river views and tranquil forest peace. Perfect for a light walk or a leisurely bike ride, it has the advantage that it is completely paved and not too hilly. Throughout the trail, there is one of the rare options for pet walking in the neighborhood, and tourists can take their dogs with them. Not far from the Oconaluftasi Visitor Center, this trail is easy to access and offers a unique blend of nature exploration and proximity to other places in the city.

Judaculla Rock

A Cultural Hike in Cherokee, NC

Judaculla Rock Cherokee, NC Image by Flickr

Judaculla Rock is a unique walking tour that takes the opportunity to explore the past of the Cherokee people. A shorter and easier route to this important archaeological and historical site is a famous spot with ancient petroglyphs or rock carvings. It is believed to be over a millennium old. The rock itself bears many puzzling carvings that have mystified historians and archaeologists for generations. 

Even though the hike to Judaculla Rock is relatively short, the experience is unique, providing a physical connection to the long, rich history and tradition of the Native American civilizations that roamed these areas. The trail is well marked and easy to access for all ages and can be a wonderful field stop for families or history lovers.

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Nearby Hikes Close to Cherokee, NC

Mingo Falls

A Scenic Hike Just Miles from Cherokee, NC

Mingo Falls near Cherokee, North Carolinaā  Image by Eifel Kreutz from Getty Images

Less than a twenty-minute drive from Cherokee, Mingo Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls near Cherokee in the entire Southern Appalachians. The Mingo Falls Viewing Area is accessed by a short but steep climb of wooden stairs, offering views of the 120-foot-high falls. Only 0.4 miles long, the trail is short but intense. It probably takes longer because of the inclination, but the reward at the top is worth it: Mingo Falls is a spectacular sight, plunging thousands of feet from a cliff top into a ravine below. This hike is perfect for those looking for a quick but rewarding adventure.

Soco Falls

A Unique Double Waterfall Hike Near Cherokee, NC

Soco Falls in Cherokee, N.C.ā  Image by skiserge1 from Getty Images

Near Cherokee, Soco Falls offers a rare chance to see double waterfalls without too much hiking. The walk from the parking lot to the viewing platform is difficult, yet a bit risky, as the path can be muddy and slippery. Soko Falls also serves as a picture-perfect backdrop desired by both professional photographers and amateurs. The waterfalls, surrounded by lush greenery, are best viewed from the platform above them. This hike near Cherokee is ideal for those who want to experience nature from a beautiful and safe location accessible to almost anyone.

Best Hikes Within Driving Distance of Cherokee, NC

Fire Mountain Trails

A Versatile Hiking Experience Near Cherokee, NC

About 10 miles from Cherokee is the Fire Mountain Trails, a true paradise for lovers of mountain biking and hiking. The multi-use trail system extends for more than 10.5 miles, creating opportunities for both easy circular routes and more complex climbs. The environments are marked and well-kept so that anyone can find something suitable for any experience level. Additionally, the Fire Mountain Trails offer gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for those who want to spend time working up a sweat amidst the spectacular natural scenery in the Smokies.

Mingus Creek Trail

A Historical Hike Near Cherokee, NC

Mingus Mill, Oconaluftee, Cherokee, North Carolina, USA Image by fotoMonkee from Getty Images

The Mingus Creek Trail, about 7 miles from Cherokee, is a great option that combines a pleasant walk, history, and natural beauty. The middle route partially passes Mingus Mill, a historic grist mill built in 1886. It leads to an old Cherokee village and the cemetery of enslaved people killed during the Civil War. This trail is approximately 5.5 miles in total and connects natural and historical sites that will be suitable for both history fans and nature lovers. It is well maintained, and crossing several water streams makes the journey even more entertaining and visually appealing.

Smokemont Loop Trail

A Varied Hiking Experience Near Cherokee, NC

The Smokemont Loop Trail is another versatile hike near Cherokee, just 8 miles away. Moderate in difficulty, this 6.1-mile trail through the woods takes hikers to an old Baptist church and a quaint bridge over the Oconaluftee River. If you have time for a day hike that is not too difficult but relatively long, this route may be perfect. It also connects to other routes if you want to continue exploring the national park.

Chasteen Creek Cascade

A Waterfall Hike Near Cherokee, NC

Those willing to go a little further may consider Chasteen Creek Cascades, located about 16 miles from Cherokee. This easy trail is a 4-mile moderate hike through the forest that ends with a small but beautiful waterfall that flows peacefully. This trail is easy to follow and has some elevation gain, but not too much, making it a good hiking option for those who want something less challenging. Additionally, the Chasteen Creek Cascades are especially beautiful after rain, making it a popular spot for nature photographers.

Kephart Prong Trail

An Accessible Hike with Historical Charm Near Cherokee, NC

Bridge into the Fall Forest on the Kephart Prong Trailā  near Cherokee, NC Image by Wildnerdpix from Getty Images

The Kephart Prong Trail is just about 14 miles from Cherokee. It is a 4-mile round-trip trail that offers easy walking. The Kephart Prong Trail is famous for its scenic stream crossings and the historical relics it passes through, such as old logging equipment and a 1930s CCC camp. The route ends at the Kephart Shelter, which is good for a picnic lunch. The return is easy, and the route is fantastic for both families and heritage lovers.

Kanati Fork Trail

A Challenging Hike Offering Floral Displays Near Cherokee, NC

Another, and even more strenuous, option 30 miles from Cherokee is the Kanati Fork Trail offers stunning views and wildflower diversity, of which there are several types in spring. This 5-mile round trip is more challenging as the trail is steep to climb with rapid elevation and would be more appropriate for experienced hikers. It is a unique experience of the path as there are almost no people, and a hiker gets an in-depth impression of the Smoky Mountains woods and living ecosystems.

Lonesome Pine Overlook

A Short But Strenuous Hike Near Cherokee, NC

Lonesome Pine Overlook is a short but tiring hike best suited to catching the sun’s rays early in the morning or just before sunset. Located only 8 miles from Cherokee, it is only 0.5 miles up, but the climb is very steep, so you get a pretty intense workout in a short amount of time. The top offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, making it an ideal place for a short walk with significant rewards.

Deep Creek Loop Trail

A Family-Friendly Waterfall Hike Near Cherokee, NC

Bridge over a waterfall at Deep Creek Trail Near Cherokee, NC Image by carlosalvarez from Getty Images Signature

Last but not least, the Deep Creek Loop Trail is another attraction located about 20 miles from Cherokee. This relatively easy 5-mile loop trail is perfect for a day hike and is filled with several beautiful waterfalls along the way. Waterfalls that hikers can see during their hike include Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls, and Juney Whank Falls. The route is quite easy and well-maintained and is particularly popular with families and people looking for a more relaxed walk.

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Now you know about 12 breathtaking hikes near Cherokee, NC, each offering its unique piece of natural beauty. There is definitely something for everyone: intensive treks or leisurely strolls. Overall, the point is to find a way to reconnect with nature and create memories that will last for years to come. Thus, grab your pack, choose a hiking trail, and find the perfect way to spend your time in the woods near Cherokee, NC! Be happy!

Map of Hikes Near Cherokee, NC

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