Embark on an unforgettable journey through Boone's High Country along North Carolina's iconic Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST).

Spanning over 900 miles from the Smoky Mountains to the North Carolina coast, the MST is a nature-rich trail that showcases the rugged beauty of the region. Segment 5, an almost 85-mile stretch traversing the Boone area, winds through enchanting landscapes, running parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's important to note that many of these trails cross or run alongside the Parkway, so hikers should exercise caution at road crossings. Discover remarkable highlights, including unique bridges, expansive views of Grandfather Mountain, stunning waterfalls, and more. In this guide, we dive into the heart of the Boone experience along the MST, offering practical tips for popular day hikes.


1. Goshen Creek Trail

A swiftly moving creek cascades through a lush mountain forest.

For those craving a low-key yet beautiful hike, Goshen Creek's trail begins right here in Boone. This 3-mile journey along the MST promises a mix of urban access and wilderness charm. Starting and concluding at a discreet pull-off along Bamboo Road, under the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge, this trail offers an easy-to-moderate hike with occasional technical parts. Careful footwork around rocks and some hill climbs are required, making it suitable for children, with caution. As you climb a ladder fence into pasture land, you might encounter cows sauntering downhill to enjoy the shade and Goshen Creek. In these moments, be sure to respect the animals by giving them ample space and following Outdoor NC principles to ensure minimal impact on their home. Take a moment to relish the view of the creek's pool and the serene forested surroundings.


2. Trout Lake to Thunder Hill Overlook

The sun rises along a blue mountain vista, illuminating the Blue Ridge Parkway road in the center of the photograph and a rocky outcropping in the foreground.

Another beautiful day hike along Boone's Mountain-to-Sea Trail starts at Trout Lake, offering a scenic expedition through North Carolina's landscapes. If you're up for a longer journey, this 7-mile hike is rated easy, promising a downhill stroll on a picturesque carriage trail. Begin your exploration from the Trout Lake parking area, where the trail runs parallel to the lakeshore. The highlight of this hike awaits at Thunder Hill Overlook, providing a perfect spot for lunch with panoramic views. As you follow the trail, you'll traverse the steps of textile mogul Moses H. Cone at Memorial Park, where 25 miles of carriage trail showcase the region's natural beauty. Consider extending your day by customizing the hike to include a visit to Cone Manor.


3. The Boone Fork Loop
A female hiker crouches beside a small waterfall cascading over large boulders.

For those eager to explore a waterfall amid their hike, the Boone Fork Trail at Julian Price Park is a must-visit, presenting the stunning Hebron Falls. This moderately strenuous, yet mostly flat, 5.5-mile loop captivates with its blend of accessible beauty and physical challenge. The trail winds through diverse terrains, from lush meadows to streams bordered by sprawling boulders, all while offering the convenience of well-placed ladders and bridges. Hebron Falls, a serene cascade amidst a boulder field, is a standout feature, easily accessible only 1.5 miles into your hike. Popular among both hikers and trail runners, this trail promises a day filled with discovery and natural wonders.


4. Price Lake Loop

A child studies a compass while perched on a large boulder overlooking a scenic lake.

Ideal for a family outing, the Price Lake Loop Trail offers a tranquil 2.3-mile hike around the serene Price Lake, set against the backdrop of the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway. This easy loop is perfect for all ages, featuring beautiful views of Grandfather Mountain, dense foliage, and several bridges and boardwalks. Open year-round and dog-friendly, it’s a popular spot for hiking, running, and walking. With amenities like boat rentals for paddling in the warmer months and cross-country skiing opportunities in winter, the Price Lake Loop Trail offers rejuvenating hikes for every season.

For those looking to extend their daytime adventure, camping options are available. To reserve a spot at Price Lake campground, call (877) 444-6777.


5. The Tanawha Trail

From the perspective of a rocky creek bed with a small stream, a wooden pedestrian bridge can be seen amongst bright green leaves in a mountain forest.

For those up for a challenging day hike, the Tanawha Trail stretches 13.5 miles, following the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain. Starting at Beacon Heights Overlook (Milepost 305.5), the trail offers breathtaking views, with a mix of easy to moderate stretches and more strenuous sections above the Viaduct and along Rough Ridge.

Hikers have the luxury of choosing their preferred distance, thanks to multiple access points along the Parkway. Staying on designated paths is essential to protect the delicate ecosystem. The trail's end near Price Park Picnic Area is a highlight, opening into fields, crossing Holloway Mountain Road, and passing apple orchards, an old gravesite, and pastures, often blanketed with wildflowers in spring. 


Lace Up Your Boots for Unforgettable Scenery

Boone's Segment 5 of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail offers a captivating journey through North Carolina's High Country, featuring a rich selection of day hikes. Spanning nearly 85 miles beside the Blue Ridge Parkway, it showcases Grandfather Mountain's breathtaking views, enchanting waterfalls, and tranquil lakes. Offering everything from leisurely walks to challenging treks, each trail provides a glimpse into the area's natural beauty and historical significance. Remember to be cautious at road crossings and respect the wildlife and habitats you encounter. Whether you're in for a short hike or a day-long adventure, Boone's trails are ready to reveal their wonders. So, lace up your boots and prepare to be amazed by stunning vistas!