Under the heat of the summer sun, finding wild fruit on a hiking trip is like finding a fiver in the sofa. Little known to many, the Blue Ridge has an abundance of wild blueberries, ripe for the taking in the right season. Blueberries grow in sunny areas with acidic soil, often in high elevation alpine climates. In the Blue Ridge, blueberries usually come to full fruition in mid and late August. Whether you’re out for an hour or a week, your trek can be sweetened with a bit of berry foraging.  Here are a few of our favorite blueberry picking hikes in the Blue Ridge.

Craggy Gardens, N.C.

Photo by Katy DeCorah

Difficulty: Beginner

Mileage: 1.5 miles

Type of hike: Day-hike

Time: 1 hour

In peak summer, the Craggy Pinnacle Trail turns into a tunnel of rhododendron flowers and hikers pop out of the bouquet to find themselves on summit with 360 degree views. Craggy Gardens is a Natural Heritage Area 20 miles from Asheville, North Carolina. On clear nights it is a destination for stargazing. Rocky outcrops and an abundance of flowers and berries draw both locals and visitors out of the city on sunny afternoons. If you’re looking for a place to picnic and take a moment to smell the flowers, Craggy Gardens is the place to go.

Graveyard Fields, N.C.

Photo by Jeff Gunn

Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Mileage: 3.2 miles

Type of hike: Day hike

Time: 2 hours

About 40 miles southwest of Asheville, Graveyard Fields provides excellent habitation for blueberries in middle and late August. Hailed as one of the most popular outdoor recreational areas in Western North Carolina, Graveyard Fields is home to many waterfalls, bald peaks, and short alpine-like forests. For a nice day-hike, check out the Graveyard Fields loop, which hits two of the three waterfalls in the Fields and meanders through a high elevated valley. Hikers park at the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 418. Park rules allow one gallon of blueberries per person per day. This area is very popular so head out early to catch the blueberries while you can!

Clingman’s Dome and Andrew’s Bald, Tenn. and N.C.

Photo by Daniel Thornton

Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Mileage: 3.5 miles roundtrip

Type of trip: Day hike

Time: 2-3 hours

The highest point in Tennessee comes complete with a high-rise observation deck dubbed the “flying saucer.” On clear days the view from Clingman’s Dome extends 100 miles over North Carolina and Tennessee. Hiking to Andrew’s Bald is a great way to escape the crowds at the Dome and see some of the highlands firsthand. Start at the observation deck and head down Forney Ridge. Stay straight when you come to a junction and keep going until you hit Andrew’s Bald. Hit this peak in early July for blooming flame azaleas or mid-August for blueberries.

Roan Mountain, Tenn.

Photo by Doug Bradley

Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced

Mileage: 14.3-29.5 mi.

Type of hike: Backpack

Time: 2-3 days

On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, Roan Mountain and its highlands are beautiful spots for picnics, day hikes and backpacking trips. In the summer blueberries can be sometimes found on the popular open balds of the Roan Highlands, several grassy knolls frequented for their 360 degree panoramic views. For a longer trip, start at Carver’s Gap and head north on the Appalachian trail to U.S. 19E. Along the way you will pass Overmountain Shelter, the largest shelter on the A.T. This shelter is a repurposed barn and can sleep over 20 people, so it’s a great spot to hit on a group trip. If you want a longer hike, start south of Roan Mountain at Iron Mountain Gap and head north from there.

Dolly Sods, W.Va

Photo by Alexis Eliot

Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced

Mileage: 21.2 mi.

Type of hike: Backpack

Time: 2-3 days

Dolly Sods is a 17,371-acre wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest. The varied climate and unique mix of ecosystems makes this another wonderful spot for picking blueberries, along with almost anything else. If you are looking for wide open spaces with a tundra-like feel, stop over. If you want deciduous forest followed by bogs, swing by. If you are looking for a gorgeous area with rocky outcrops and panoramas, Dolly Sods has what you need. Start at the Bear Rocks Trail and take a loop around the park, taking note that the trails are not blazed and read the signs carefully. Maps can be found at www.fs.usda.gov.