- Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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Offering more than 500,000 acres of land about 40 miles northeast of downtown Asheville, Pisgah National Park is jampacked with activities and breathtaking vistas. With hundreds of miles of trails and numerous waterfalls and swimming holes, the forest provides ample opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors.
One of the first national forests in the country, created partially with land that once belonged to the Biltmore Estate, the park is home to the first forestry school in the United States as well as the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute and Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
The park is divided into three ranger districts: The Pisgah Ranger District, the Appalachian Ranger District and the Grandfather Ranger District. The Pisgah Ranger District provides the easiest access to the park's many waterfalls, while experienced hikers will find more challenging trails in the Grandfather Ranger District. The farthest district from Asheville, the Appalachian District, is where horseback riders will find trails best suited for them along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. There are also trails for biking and rock climbing, as well as fishing holes, picnic areas and campgrounds.
Keep in mind that you'll need a permit for camping, but all other activities are free to enjoy. You can reach the forest off Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 408.6 or by taking Interstate 26 about 40 miles north of downtown Asheville. For more information about the forest, or to obtain a permit, head to the National Forest Service website.