3 Hardest Hikes in Madison County, NC

Published July 24, 2021

Looking for a challenging day-hike? For adventurers looking to get a good workout while hiking on the trails check out our recommendations below of the hardest hikes in Madison County


Rich Mountain Fire Tower

5 Miles

The Rich Mountain Fire Tower near Hot Springs, NC is a fantastic out-and-back hike located on the Appalachian Trail. Getting to the fire tower is almost entirely an uphill climb but it is well worth the view.

This is a great hike to do if you’re looking for a challenge but also don’t want to be hiking in too remote of an area.

Find out more about the Rich Mountain Fire Tower here


Big Firescald Knob

4.5 Miles

Big Firescald Knob is another hike on the Appalachian Trail that provides stunning 360 views of the mountains. Located on the North Carolina/Tennessee border, this hike takes hikers to several interesting locations including the Blackstack Cliffs and Howard’s Rock.

This hike starts in a very remote part of Madison County and is not recommended for beginners.

Find out more about Big Firescald Knob here


Big Bald

13 Miles

Big Bald is an out-and-back that starts at Sam’s Gap and is a favorite hike among hikers as it takes you northbound on the Appalachian Trail and finishes with incredible views of the mountains.

Don’t be too intimidated by the 13 miles, this hike has lots of climbs and descending sections. This is a great hike for experienced hikers as well as intermediate hikers looking to try a longer distance.

Find out more about Big Bald here