There are a multitude of long day-hike trails in Blue Ridge, but if you want just a touch of Mother Nature’s beauty before you hop aboard the train or head into downtown for dinner then these five hikes under five miles are your best bet.

This beloved 1-mile (or 7-mile) hike along the Benton MacKaye Trail is worthy of the effort, even without the special feature for which the trail is named. Lined with rhododendron and hemlock, the rich forest is a lovely respite in the summertime. You’ll see gnarled roots, lush moss and the periodic mushroom cluster that reminds you how close you are to the Toccoa River.

Beautiful Lake Blue Ridge boasts over 65 miles of shoreline; you can’t take it all in on a hike, but you can enjoy a slice of lake heaven on this short loop. At under a mile with no elevation gain, it’s feasible for almost everyone. Bring a picnic Lake Blue Ridge Day Use Area. You’ll begin along a wooden boardwalk which quickly changes to a dirt trail with fantastic views from the west side of the lake. Fido is welcome, and if you’re up for it there is even a rope swing!

This 2-mile out-and-back hike to Long Creek Falls is a favorite short Blue Ridge hike. It follows the Appalachian Trail through the Three Forks wilderness, complete with hemlock, rhododendron, and towering tulip poplar.

The beloved Springer Mountain trail is great for every age. In case you are not aware, Springer Mountain is the south-most point of the AT which travels north 2200 miles to Maine. From the parking lot this hike gently ascends the mountain on a trail lined with hardwoods, rock outcroppings and in the summer months, beautiful wildflowers. You get peaks along the way through the trails of the view that is waiting for you at the top.

In addition to whitewater sports, the Ocoee Whitewater Center near McCaysville has a one-mile hiking trail which crosses a 330 foot suspension bridge and circles the center. The trail is entirely accessible for those who are physically challenged. There are 30 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, and some are appropriate for family biking as well.

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