Entirely surrounded by scenic mountain peaks, ancient rivers, and cozy coves, Western North Carolina provides an outdoor setting like no other. And the unincorporated hamlet of Cedar Mountain sits right in the thick of it. With what seems like thousands of miles of well-managed trails within just a small radius, Cedar Mountain locals enjoy the outdoor playgrounds they find right in their backyards.
Take time to explore this amazing area and breathe in our fresh mountain air! Here are five hikes within five miles of Cedar Mountain, NC.
Lake View Loop Trail
DuPont State Recreational Forest abounds with, well, opportunities to recreate. There are enough hiking trails to keep you busy for a lifetime. But among our favorites is the short and easy Lake View Loop. The quarter-mile loop is easily accessible from Lake Julia Road and offers views of the water. A dock and picnic tables are nearby, offering plenty of opportunities to spend an entire day enjoying the mountains and water. For more serious hikers, the Lake View Loop can be reached at the end of the more difficult, 3.5-mile Reasonover Creek Trail, which features beautiful wildflowers along its path.
Burnt Mountain Trail
Tucked along the edge of DuPont State Forest, the 2.2-mile Burnt Mountain Trail is possibly the most challenging on this list. The trail is popular with mountain bikers, as it follows an old road bed, and features beautiful wildflowers along the route. While Burnt Mountain Trail does take you to the mountain summit, it’s its winding path along the Little River that makes it worth trying. For a more scenic experience, take some side trails down to the river. When the weather is right, you may catch a few low-running waterfalls. This trail connects to the Corn Mill Shoals Trail for a 3.9-mile loop.
Head down US-276 from Cedar Mountain, and four miles later, past the South Carolina state line, is Caesars Head State Park. The park is named for a granitic gneiss outcropping atop the dramatic Blue Ridge Escarpment. The peak’s overlook is easily accessible, treating hikers to incredible views of nearby Table Rock Mountain. On clear days, you may even be able to spot distant Greenville. In the fall, thousands of hawks migrate through the park, offering additional wonders. There is a small fee for trail access, but a dedicated parking lot is open from 9:00AM–6:00PM. And their visitors center makes a great stop either before or after hitting the trail.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail
Among the 60+ miles of challenging trails in Caesars Head State Park is the four-mile-round-trip Raven Cliff Falls Trail. This popular hiking trail leads to another scenic overlook from which you can view the 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls. There is also a 6.6-mile round trip hike to a suspension bridge that crosses the creek above Raven Cliff Falls. The bridge offers a unique view of the falls as they plunge deep into the mountain cove below. If you enjoy waterfall hikes, you’re in luck here! Five additional waterfalls are accessible throughout Caesars Head State Park, including Rainbow Falls.
Jones Gap Trail
Rounding off our adventures over the SC state line is a hike along Jones Gap Trail. Caesars Head connects to Jones Gap State Park by what is known as the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. This 13,000-acre area of pristine Southern mountain forest is not to be missed! Hikers can take a number of loop and traverse hiking trails that connect the parks, including the five-mile Jones Gap Trail. South Carolina’s first designated scenic river, the Middle Saluda River, runs through Jones Gap. In addition to great trout fishing, hikers can enjoy dipping into swimming holes along the river. The park also features a living lab for the park’s hand-on ecology learning center.