Hiking at Paint Rock, NC

Updated on January 25, 2018
cclitgirl profile image

Cynthia is a writer, artist, and teacher. She loves studying language, arts, and culture, and sharing that knowledge.

The rock face looking up at Paint Rock.
The rock face looking up at Paint Rock. | Source

Hiking in Western North Carolina

I love to go on hikes and spend time photographing nature. Recently, I went to Paint Rock, NC on two different occasions.

The first time my husband and I went, it was a voyage of discovery. We looked for Paint Rock and we thought we had not found it; that made us decide to return.

However, there was PLENTY we did find and it instantly became one of those places that you just love to go to anytime you want to get out in nature. We only live about half an hour away from this beautiful place.

Paint Rock, NC

Getting to Paint Rock

River Road leading to Paint Rock.
River Road leading to Paint Rock.

Western North Carolina is a rural place and it's sometimes difficult finding places, especially when they're not well-marked.

If you're in Asheville, NC and wanting to go to Paint Rock, your best bet is to take I-26 North to exit 19A. From there, you'll head west on Hwy 25/70. A couple miles outside of Hot Springs, you'll come to an intersection and you'll want to veer left and continue on 25/70. (Don't go straight and get on 208.)

Just before you get into town, you'll turn right onto River Road, which runs parallel to the French Broad River. Stay on that even when the road becomes gravel, passing Murray Ranch Recreation Area on your left and continue on for a couple more miles (it's about 5 1/2 miles from when you turn off 25/70).

You'll know you've arrived when you see a large rock cliff on your right and the road makes a sharp turn to the right and behind the large rock and splits off into Lower Paint Creek Road (FR 41) and Paint Mountain Road (FR 54).

Paint Rock

A side river behind Paint Rock.  I took this photo as an experiment with water photography.  I was quite pleased.
A side river behind Paint Rock. I took this photo as an experiment with water photography. I was quite pleased. | Source

Once you get to Paint Rock, the French Broad will be a majestic vista on your left, and the rock face will be on your right.

The first time we arrived at Paint Rock, we had no idea that the big rock face is Paint Rock itself.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of graffiti at the bottom of the rock.

We discovered, on our second trip, however, that if you look up about 20-30 feet high, there are quite a few faint geometric and swirly markings on the rocks.

These are the petroglyphs that are 5,000 years old. They're hard to see, but once you recognize them, they're really neat.

They look like blocks of squares with really squiggly and swirly lines.

Cherokee Native American Indians painted these pictographs. Unfortunately, they're difficult to see even with the naked eye, let alone the camera. The only way to see them really well would be to climb the rock; I am NOT a rock climber, and you can't climb the rock anyway.

Despite the graffiti, it's all a sight to see. We just figured humans have always liked to paint on this rock.

When You Get Out In Nature, What's Your Favorite Activity?

See results

Paint Rock Trail

The view near the end of Paint Rock Trail.  You can see the French Broad River - especially in winter.
The view near the end of Paint Rock Trail. You can see the French Broad River - especially in winter. | Source

This trail is a hidden gem in Western NC. I have lived here for nearly 6 years and never knew about the majestic beauty and recreation you can do.

At the fork where FR 54 and 41 begin, there is an information hut. It tells you about where good fishing is, the types of fish you can expect to find, dealing with wildlife should you see it, and more.

Just after FR 54 begins, if you walk up just a bit, Paint Rock Trail is on the left.

It is a steep trail; as you ascend you'll feel your legs burning if you're not used to it. It's only 1.3 miles long, but it feels longer because of all the climbing.

It's well-worth the effort, though, especially in winter. The views extend for miles out over the Blue Ridge Mountains and it's much easier to see without all the foliage on the trees.

The end of the trail is actually an intersection with Chimney Rocks Trail. Our first time out on the trail, we were hoping to see more rocks with pictographs, but alas, only the views were our reward - and that was still enough.

More Things To Do In Paint Rock Canyon

A river shot at Paint Rock, NC.  There's great fishing, rafting, swimming holes, mountain biking, camping and more.
A river shot at Paint Rock, NC. There's great fishing, rafting, swimming holes, mountain biking, camping and more. | Source

Hiking and fishing are only but two of many different activities you can do. Mountain biking trails are all around (though many of them are accessible on the Tennessee side of the Canyon - yes, TN is that close).

There is a campground near the Canyon, swimming holes, picnic areas and the scenery is majestic and unspoiled.

After your hike, you can return to Hot Springs and indulge in the hot springs that naturally occur close to the river.

It's an incredible area and I have to say, it feels sacred.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        12 months ago from Western NC

        Yes, if you are heading west, it's on the right - the river is on the left. It's one of those "can't mistake it" kind of things. But, finding the actual glyphs can be difficult.

      • profile image

        Sean 

        12 months ago

        I'm a little confused...this sounds like the rock is right on the side of the road...is there an actual hike to get a view of the rock, or a better view?

      • rebeccamealey profile image

        Rebecca Mealey 

        4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

        Ok!

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        4 years ago from Western NC

        Rebecca: Paint Rock, the Outer Banks and Shining Rock are all on your list of things you need to see in NC. :D HUGS!

      • rebeccamealey profile image

        Rebecca Mealey 

        4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

        I don't know how this place passed me by all the years I was in school up that way. Sounds wonderful!

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        4 years ago from Western NC

        Tillsontitan - thank you, thank you! I definitely love to try to take a good photograph. :) Thank you so much for coming by and checking this hub out. :) Have a wonderful day!

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        4 years ago from Western NC

        Brett - thank you. I can imagine - I've had friends who have lived in S. Korea and the photos are always beautiful. You're right: the doing/achieving something is the greatest thing, especially when surrounded by nature. Thanks for sharing!

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 

        4 years ago from New York

        What a beautiful hub...all around. Your information about Painted Rock (Indian paintings especially) makes it sound so interesting but I have to say most of all I enjoyed your beautiful pictures! Nothing draws you in like a great photograph!

        Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

      • Brett.Tesol profile image

        Brett Caulton 

        4 years ago from Asia

        Very informative! You provide a lot of detail and information in the hub. I enjoy hiking too, one of the best I've been on is a mountain range in South Korea. However, it is more the sense of doing/achieving something and being surrounded by nature.

        Shared with my followers ;-)

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Journey - yes, thank you! I love that place. I need to head over there again soon. :)

      • Journey * profile image

        Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

        5 years ago from USA

        Paint rock looks like a really interesting site to see. Thanks for sharing your photos. I'm sure being there is a cool experience.

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Born2care2001 - Bruce, that is freaking awesome! You live in Asheville!? I actually live up in Madison County but no one's heard of my little town, so I just say Asheville, lol...I'm just 25 minutes away, though.

        Yes, definitely check it out. It's definitely worth the drive from Asheville and make a day of it: bring picnicking stuff, rafting (if you're into it) and fishing gear, bike riding stuff...you can even camp in the campgrounds up there. :) Hiking trails abound...it's a hidden gem here in Madison County. :)

      • Born2care2001 profile image

        Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

        5 years ago from Asheville NC

        Hey Cyndi!

        Thanks for the tip! My wife and I have lived in Asheville for almost three years and love to hike as well. We've been to the spa at Hot Springs, (one of my favorite healing places) and I'm sure we'd really enjoy Paint Rock. Thank you for mentioning the sacred feeling as I too, believe as my wife does that these are sacred places.

        Thank you for the directions too. I'll let you know (we'll take some photos too) how it turns out!

        Blessings to you!

        Bruce

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Alocsin - hey there! So great to see you. I definitely love this place and thank you so much for stopping by! :)

      • alocsin profile image

        alocsin 

        5 years ago from Orange County, CA

        I'm not much of a hiker but you paint such a wonderful place with your photos and text, I want to go there and try it out. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Sharon - thank you so much! I hope you're having a WONDERFUL day. :)

      • Sharyn's Slant profile image

        Sharon Smith 

        5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

        Beautiful hub and love your photography skills CC. Pinning to my travel board.

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Glimmer Twin Fan - aw, thank you! I love, LOVE this place. It's one of my favorite places to go in western NC. :)

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 years ago

        We were in this area last summer and definitely plan on returning. Will pin this to remember this area. Gorgeous hub!

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Deborah - thank you! It's a WONDERFUL PLACE! I appreciate your kind words!

        Teaches - aww, thank you! I definitely love western NC and I'm thrilled you have lived near here. :D Cheers!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        5 years ago

        Wow, your photos are so amazing! I feel like I can almost hear the water rushing over the rocks and touch the mountain walls. I lived near there awhile back and the beauty is as you have demonstrated through your words and photography. Voted up!

      • DeborahNeyens profile image

        Deborah Neyens 

        5 years ago from Iowa

        My husband and I keep talking about coming out your way to hike in the mountains. Maybe this will be the year. If so, this sounds like a great hike for us.

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Faith Reaper - thank you! I love photographic journeys into nature. I definitely enjoy nature's beauty. :)

        Efficient Admin - that's great that you're not too far from here. The entire state of NC has something wonderful to offer. :D

        Danette - it is pretty! I make it out to the Outer Banks on occasion - I love the whole state. :D

        Aviannovice - it is truly exquisite. :) In the same way that you make your excursions to Boomer Lake exquisite. :)

      • aviannovice profile image

        Deb Hirt 

        5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

        What an exquisite place. This is somewhere where dreams are truly made.

      • Danette Watt profile image

        Danette Watt 

        5 years ago from Illinois

        NC is a beautiful state. My parents, both now deceased, lived there and I still have 3 siblings there. They were all in the eastern half of the state but I always wanted to see the western part b/c as your photos show, it's a very pretty area.

        Voted up and thanks for sharing.

      • Efficient Admin profile image

        Efficient Admin 

        5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

        This sounds like a really cool place to visit and to hike. Your photos are wonderful, especially that one of the water stream - beautiful!! I'm not that far from you - I live in Charlotte and occasionally travel toward that way and love it out there. Thanks for sharing this info.

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 

        5 years ago from southern USA

        Thanks for taking us all along on your amazing hiking adventure in such a beautiful area no doubt! What great photos here. You are very adventurous. Sounds like a great time enjoying the beauty of nature and all of its surprises.

        Vote up ++++ and sharing

        God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Mhatter99 - hehe, thank you so much for stopping by! Cheers!

      • Mhatter99 profile image

        Martin Kloess 

        5 years ago from San Francisco

        Thank you for the wonderful tour.

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        Kelly - that is AWESOME! I love hiking - so much! That is SO GOOD to know STL has some good trails! Next time we pass through I'll have to check them out! :D Let me know when you write something on them - I would LOVE to see!

      • RealHousewife profile image

        Kelly Umphenour 

        5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

        Sounds like a really cool place to visit! I'd love going there...that's the kind of stuff I LOVE! Couldn't decide for the poll but I picked fishing as my fav because you don't have to move much:) hahaha

        Seriously, I love hiking and I know you'd really freak if you saw some of the trails around here:). I was just gonna write about a place (2 of them really) like that around here...hidden gems!

      • cclitgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        Cynthia Calhoun 

        5 years ago from Western NC

        BB - you're quick! haha...Yeah...I had one more to do for the post-apprenticeship and I MADE myself do it. I still love HP (always will) but I'm so focused on blogging/photography/art at the moment...I have to make myself write the more informative articles here, LOL. Thank you for your support, friend! :)

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Great pics, lil' Sis. The experimental one of the river is fabulous. I was so excited to see a new hub by you that I dropped everything and rushed over here. I was not disappointed. :)

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, skyaboveus.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://skyaboveus.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)