Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Explore the Trail Town of Elkin

Mar 30, 2024 01:54PM ● By Logan Haynes

Situated below the Blue Ridge Escarpment, the town of Elkin maintains an authentic Trail Town character. Adjacent to two state parks and close to Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Boone, Elkin and neighboring Jonesville, separated by the Yadkin River, will host the fifth annual NC Trail Days from May 30 to June 2.

Those visiting this area of the foothills will notice an eclectic vibe from the unique shops and restaurants downtown and the exuberant music scene, but it is the access to nature that draws the most attention. The dedicated efforts of the Elkin Valley Trails Association to revive local trails, create new ones and weave them into a greater network has contributed to Elkin’s rise as a trails hub. Three state trails: the Yadkin River Paddle Trail, the Overmountain Victory Trail and the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), which runs down Main Street, all converge in Elkin.

The Forest Bathing Trail at Grassy Creek is the state’s first trail with this designation, observing the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or therapy in nature. Take this easier one-and-a-half-mile out-and-back trail from the trailhead (shared with the tasting room at Grassy Creek Vineyard at 235 Chatham Cottage Lane) and experience a tunnel of green in spring and summer, a shroud of colors in fall and otherwise hidden views in winter. The trail links to the MST and picturesque Carter Falls. The best way to take in this experience is to turn off the screens, minimize extraneous thoughts and turn up the senses.

Check out the new dam mural at Klondike Lake over the last quarter mile of trail before the turnaround (stay right and follow the sign after crossing the Grassy Creek bridge). There is a developing loop trail as a return option, as well.

Carter Falls is one of the most photogenic spots in Elkin, reached by adding an additional two miles out-and-back to the Carter Falls-Powerhouse Loop Trail (connected to the Forest Bathing Trail via the MST). The hilly terrain in sections can make this a moderate hike, but the view is worth it. The falls can also be accessed via the Carter Falls Trailhead for a one-mile loop hike.

The more strenuous summit hike to Wells Knob, a prominent hill north of Elkin and the MST’s highest point between Stone Mountain and Pilot Mountain state parks, is a three-mile out-and-back hike from the Wells Knob Trailhead in mostly shade with more than 700 feet of gradual elevation on long switchbacks. It is a great option for birding and wildlife spotting, with virtually no crowds.

 Logan Haynes is an events coordinator for Explore Elkin and festival director for NC Trail Days. For more information, visit

NC Trail Days - PO Box 721 Elkin NC

NC Trail Days - PO Box 721, Elkin, NC

Join us for the 5th annual North Carolina Trail Days in Elkin, NC - home of three great state trails! The festival celebrates our recreation culture, the great outdoors, the NC Mountains-... Read More » 


Join Our Email List


* indicates required
What Best Describes You?