Although Asheville has received accolades for just about everything—from food and festivals to the health and intelligence of its citizens—it is best known for being one of the top outdoor cities in the nation. Thousands of trail miles crisscross the surrounding mountains, and a vast network of waterways run through and around the town, making Asheville a dream destination for any outdoor enthusiast.
There are countless opportunities to experience the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains on foot, including the famous Appalachian and Mountains to Sea trails. The iconic Blue Ridge Parkway offers a variety of hikes for overnight backpackers and sightseers alike, including 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak on the East Coast. Take in the panoramic views atop the classic summits of Looking Glass and Chimney Rock, explore the unique terrain of Panther Town, or wander the sprawling, 8,000 acres of the ornate Biltmore Estate, just minutes from downtown Asheville.
Asheville is a mountain biker's paradise, and just 15 minutes outside of town, Bent Creek's flowing singletrack and logging roads appeal to bikers of every ability. The 500,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest boast hundreds of miles of technical trails and rigorous climbs with huge views and steep downhill rewards. If smooth and fast is what you're after, ride the lakeside loops of Tsali or the slick rock of DuPont. And for a day spent in town, hit the trails of Richmond Hill, a city park whose rolling hills feel impressively secluded.
Whitewater kayakers of all levels swarm to Asheville for its wealth of world-class rivers and creeks, most notoriously the class five, dam release Green River Narrows. Advanced boaters will enjoy the extreme features of the Watauga River and Linville Gorge. For intermediate runs, the French Broad, Upper Green, and Pigeon rivers offer bouncy, class three rapids as well as mild stretches for a summer float. The creeks that lace the Appalachians, such as Big Laurel and Wilson's, are also notable additions to this whitewater mecca.
Looking Glass Rock, one of the most popular climbing spots near Asheville, offers an enormous array of trad, mixed, and multi-pitch routes, with even more epic trad to be found in the Linville Gorge. Rumbling Bald, one of the premier bouldering destinations in the Southeast, provides a never ending supply of projects for senders of all levels. For sport climbers, Asheville's proximity to climbing hotspots such as the Red, the New, and the Obed guarantees you will never run dry on high adventure.