Looking for the perfect hike in North Carolina for young children? Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three scenic North Carolina trails to explore with babies and young children.
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site (Flat Rock, N.C.)
The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site offers over five miles of trails, which vary in length and difficulty. The park is located on 264 acres in western North Carolina. The trail from the parking area to the farm is easy for ages 2+ to walk. From the farm area, there are several trails with various difficulty levels you can choose to hike. It provides the perfect historical hiking experience for families with children.
- There is a shuttle you can request if needed.
- Level of difficulty includes an easy 1-mile stroll around the lake to a 4-mile climb to the top of a granite bald.
- Pick up a map at the park bookstore when planning your hike. Also, there’s a limited selection of snacks and water to purchase from the bookstore.
- During the summer, National Park Service rangers give 30-minute programs about a myriad of Sandburg-related topics from bird walks to cultural landscape walks.
This is a great place to hike with kids because there are a variety of trails for all difficulty levels. The littlest walkers enjoy trekking up to the farm or around the lake, while bigger kids and babies in carriers can hike all the way to the top of Glassy Mountain. Whichever trail you choose, the highlight of this park is the goat farm. It is great to let the (human) kids loose in the pasture to interact with the friendly goats. —Stephanie Francis
Photo courtesy of Danni Suplicki.
Morse Park and Lake Lure Flowering Bridge (Lake Lure, N.C.)
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is located in Morse Park. It is a perfect place for a beautiful hike with little ones. The trail is flat and easy enough for younger children. From the bridge, visitors can look upstream to view the famous Chimney Rock. Downstream, the river flows into Lake Lure, which is surrounded by the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake Lure Flowering Bridge provides a scenic escape with flower gardens nestled within the pathways. It is one of the most scenic walks in western North Carolina.
- The park is open year-round.
- The bridge is part of the 3/4-mile Town Center Walkway that continues past Morse Park to Lake Lure Beach.
- There is a small parking area on the Chimney Rock side. You can also park at the nearby Lake Lure Welcome Center and walk to the bridge.
This is a great park for kids because it is completely flat and stroller-friendly. Kids love seeing all the different views of the lake, and spotting ducks and boats. The flowering bridge is always decorated for whichever season we’re currently in, with lots of little things to explore amongst the gardens. The playground at the picnic area is the icing on the cake! —Stephanie Francis
Photo courtesy of Hilary Bean.
Max Patch, Pisgah National Forest (Spring Creek, N.C.)
About an hour away from Asheville is Pisgah National Forest, a 500,000-acre hardwood forest that sits along the Tennessee state line. Max Patch is just one of its many shorter trails that meets up with the Appalachian Trail. It’s a 3/4-mile trail that takes hikers up to a bald mountaintop and provides an amazing 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail is actually a loop, but it’s best done as an out and back, as one of the ways is very steep, narrow and full of thorny blackberry bushes; or consider carrying your little one when you hit that point. Summer and fall are the best seasons to hike Max Patch. Summer provides wildflower viewing and blackberries bushes that will keep many a toddler happy and smiling. And fall is also spectacular for the foliage stretched out as far as the eye can see across the rolling hills below.
- Bring a blanket and picnic basket to enjoy at the top. However, there’s no protection from the sun, so if you don’t mind the extra weight, bringing a tent would be a great option for protection from the sun.
- Lightning is also a big factor, so be aware of summer storms creeping up. Hike ten minutes down to the AT, and you’ll be covered by a forest canopy and more shielded from the elements.
- Make sure you have a good map in hand. GPS most likely won’t work as you head out the long drive to the trail.
- Due to the tall grass along the trail, beware of ticks and small bugs.
From the summit, you have a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge mountains, with one of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises we’ve seen. There’s a second trail that loops around the mountain, and you can also hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, so there are many other adventures you can go on with your kids. There are blackberry bushes all over the mountain, which kept my kids happily hiking. We saw lots of wildflowers and butterflies as well. —Diego dos Santos
Photo courtesy of Diego dos Santos.
MORE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
North Carolina offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- North Carolina State Parks
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
- 3 Stunning South Carolina Trails for Families with Young Children
- 3 Unforgettable Hikes in Georgia for Young Children
- 3 Amazing Tennessee Trails for Families with Young Children
Trail information by Stephanie Francis and Diego dos Santos.