It may be winter here in the Southern Highlands with the occasional snowfall, but the weather still allows for quite a few great hiking days. One of our favorite places for a hike is the DuPont State Forest, and it's only about a 40 minute drive from Asheville.
DuPont has over 10,000 acres with lakes, rivers, streams and four major waterfalls; not to mention gorgeous mountain views. It sits in an upland plateau of the Little River Valley, with gently rolling forested land bordered by hills and mountains with exposed granite throughout.
High Falls, Triple Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls are world renowned and easily accessible - even for the novice hiker. There's also a covered bridge at the top of High Falls - but the views are best from the base of the falls.
DuPont Forest is just outside of the town of Brevard, North Carolina - which is a destination in its own right; known for Brevard College as well as for white squirrels. You could visit the town and the forest on the same day.
We were in DuPont on the first weekend in February with our assistant Heather and her husband Austin. It was a little chilly at first, but quickly warmed up to the high 40's - which is perfect for mountain hiking.