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Pisgah National Forest picture in Asheville, NC
Dalriada50 / Getty Images

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  • Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/Pools Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.2
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    5.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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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

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#1 Biltmore Estate This enormous French Renaissance-style estate of George Vanderbilt has a storied past dating back to 1889. Considered America's largest private home, the 250-room estate – with 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms ... Read more » The Biltmore Company

#2 Appalachian Trail Winding its way from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail spans 2,190 miles through 14 states. About 320 of those miles are found in North Carolina (including 224 miles ... Read more » Brett Maurer / Getty Images

#3 Asheville Urban Trail Weaving through downtown, the 1.7-mile-long Asheville Urban Trail walks visitors through the cultural and architectural history of the city. Created by the city of Asheville to showcase its unique ... Read more » ExploreAsheville.com

#4 Pisgah National Forest 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 ... Read more » Dalriada50 / Getty Images

#5 Blue Ridge Parkway The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway begins in Virginia and meanders through about 250 miles of western North Carolina. With a maximum speed of 45 mph, the highway offers drivers numerous ... Read more » Pierre Leclerc Photography / Getty Images

#6 North Carolina Arboretum Those with green thumbs will want to put the North Carolina Arboretum on their to-do list. Located about 10 miles south of downtown Asheville off of Blue Ridge Parkway milepost ... Read more » JillLang / Getty Images

#7 Breweries With more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the United States and about 100 local beers to try, Asheville has emerged as the beer capital of the southeast. Sampling ... Read more » Mark Gaw / EyeEm / Getty Images

#8 Folk Art Center At milepost 382 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll find the Folk Art Center, home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The guild dates back to the 1890s and ... Read more » Southern Highlands Craft Guild

#9 River Arts District When artists came to Asheville to soak up the natural beauty and free-spirited atmosphere, they had to find large spaces to work. Enter the River Arts District. Comprising 22 former ... Read more » Misha Schmeidke

The Biltmore Estate picture in Asheville, NC
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The Biltmore Estate picture in Asheville, NC
Appalachian Trail picture in Asheville, NC
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Pisgah National Forest picture in Asheville, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway picture in Asheville, NC
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Breweries picture in Asheville, NC
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One of the biggest draws to the area is the massive Biltmore Estate, the home of George Vanderbilt dating back to 1889.  The Biltmore Company

About 320 miles of the Appalachian Trail are located in North Carolina and along the border of Tennessee.  Brett Maurer / Getty Images

Learn about the history of the city by taking a stroll downtown along the Asheville Urban Trail ExploreAsheville.com

Home to numerous waterfalls that are popular swimming holes in the summer, Pisgah National Forest spans 500,000 acres.  Dalriada50 / Getty Images

Asheville sits off of milepost 384 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pierre Leclerc Photography / Getty Images

The North Carolina Arboretum features 65 acres of gardens and 10 miles of biking and hiking trails.  JillLang / Getty Images

Spend an afternoon (or two) tasting beer from one of the city's many breweries Mark Gaw / EyeEm / Getty Images

The Folk Art Center is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and offers shops and demonstrations in addition to a gallery of important works.  Southern Highlands Craft Guild

The River Arts District helps define Asheville’s distinct personality.   Misha Schmeidke

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