Hiking at Paint Rock, NC
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
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).
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.
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Paint Rock Trail
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
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.