Travel

Seven Southern Getaways Sitting Right on Hiking Trails

Inns, resorts, and park cabins where paths through the great outdoors are just steps away

A resort tucked into a mountain landscape

Photo: Primland/Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge

Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.

You don’t have to be ready to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail—or even sleep outdoors—to enjoy a trailside getaway. These Southern stays offer comfort, adventure, and gorgeous hikes right outside their doors.

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Windy Hill Farm & Preserve

Loudon, Tennessee

photo: courtesy of windy hill farm & preserve

East Tennessee might not come to mind when you think “all-inclusive resort,” but maybe it should. Situated near the Great Smoky Mountains and Knoxville, the 650-acre Windy Hill property offers the best of resort life along with outdoor experiences like quail hunting, clay shooting, and beekeeping (plus garden-to-table dining, nightly bonfires with s’mores, and concerts).

photo: courtesy of windy hill farm & preserve
Windy Hill hikers on the trail.

The family-owned property originated as a cattle farm and later became a quail hunting preserve. Opened to visitors in 2022 and surrounded by two miles of shoreline along the Tennessee River, the resort offers kayaking and paddleboarding, yoga, and cooking classes. Walk, mountain bike, or take a “wine hike” on the four miles of nature trails. The Eagle Nest Trail, which begins just a few steps from the luxury cabins, is a 3.5-mile journey around the farm’s outer edge that leads to the trail’s namesake, a giant bald eagle’s nest perched high in an oak tree overlooking open fields. Fortunate guests have spotted the birds, which are somewhat rare in this part of the country.


Hotel Hartness

Greenville, South Carolina

photo: Courtesy of Hotel Hartness

Located just outside of downtown Greenville, Hotel Hartness promises peace and tranquility on its nearly five hundred acres of pastures and woodlands. The seventy-three-room luxury boutique hotel was once the home of local Pepsi-Cola bottling magnates, and vestiges of the family’s passion for aviation and the outdoors are evident throughout the property, which includes a 180-acre nature preserve, an on-site farm, and an outdoor pool with dedicated pool service. 

photo: Courtesy of Hotel Hartness
Patterson Kitchen + Bar.

The Hartness Nature Preserve includes ten miles of trails, in addition to lakes and ponds, to explore on foot or by borrowing a bike from the hotel. Visitors can also trek miles of additional trails through the Greenville community. Downtown’s Falls Park and the Swamp Rabbit Trail invite guests to get lost in nature around the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After a day of adventures, head back to the hotel for a dinner of bone-in Duroc pork chops or Timberock Farms duck at Patterson Kitchen + Bar.


Southern Hotel

Covington, Louisiana

photo: CEDRIC ANGELES

The trailhead for Tammany Trace, a thirty-one-mile rails-to-trails conversion (the only one in Louisiana) begins one minute from this boutique hotel’s front door. Travelers can navigate through several picturesque towns on the Northshore of Louisiana (Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell all sit along the Trace). So if you’d like to stop for a shrimp po’boy at Bear’s Restaurant or shop for homemade dog treats at Cafe du Bone Dog Bakery & Boutique while hiking (or biking) on a relatively flat trail, this one’s for you. 

photo: Visit The Northshore
The Tammany Trace Bike Trail.

The historic Southern Hotel is currently working on an expansion to include twenty-four guest rooms, four condominiums, retail space, and a bakery, set to be complete in late 2025. An added bonus to this property is its proximity to New Orleans, located across Lake Pontchartrain. Guests can make an easy day trip to the Big Easy in about forty-five minutes and come back to chill in artsy, relaxed Covington.


Three Trails

Elkin, North Carolina

photo: courtesy of three trails

Home to three major trails—the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, the Yadkin River State Blueway Trail, and the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail—the small town of Elkin is a charming crossroads. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs right down Main Street, and the Yadkin Valley Heritage & Trails Visitor Center sits two blocks south of the Three Trails boutique hotel. This fourteen-room getaway opened in fall 2022, but the building dates back to the late 1800s. Guest suites vary from studios to one-, two- and three-bedroom units, each with its own kitchen. The rooftop deck overlooking downtown and the Blue Ridge Mountains is a favorite spot to have a drink and wind down after a day hiking.


The Cabins at Gulf State Park

Gulf Shores, Alabama

photo: Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism

Instead of mountain vistas, the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, located within Gulf State Park, serves up gorgeous water view across twenty-eight miles of multi-use paved trails. The park recently added twenty brand-new lakeside cabins offering panoramas of Lake Shelby. It’s also home to nine distinct ecosystems and a nature center. 

Besides being hiker-friendly, Gulf State Park distinguishes itself for its accessibility. Three of the cabins offer special accommodations like roll-in showers and pull-down kitchen shelving, and all of the trails in the park have ramps instead of stairs, plus rest stations and benches scattered throughout.


Primland, Auberge Resorts Collection

Meadows of Dan, Virginia

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Whether embarking on a guided nature hike, exploring the eighteen-mile trail network on horseback, or stargazing under the clear night sky at the resort’s renowned observatory, Primland is a perfect basecamp in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. An Auberge Resort property, the secluded estate sits on 12,000 acres. Choose to stay in the main lodge, a house on the golf course fairway, a chalet-like pinnacle room, or even a red-cedar tree house 2,700 feet above the Kibler Valley.

photo: Primland/Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge
The golf course at Primland.

An on-site naturalist leads family foraging outings, and for those wanting to hit the trail on their own, the resort provides hiking backpacks and carriers for children, plus binoculars upon request. After your trek, indulge in world-class amenities, including an indoor pool and hot tub, spa, and the eighteen-hole Highland Course at Primland, recently ranked as the number-one public course in the state. 


Loblolly Pines Adventure Camp

West Eureka Springs, Arkansas

photo: Loblolly Pines Adventure Camp

When Jack and Rachael Moyer acquired the Loblolly Pines Adventure Camp property in 2019, they wanted to blend the experiences of camping with more comfortable amenities. They designed the cabin resort in the Ozark Mountains to be reminiscent of historic camps near national parks, even including Pendleton National Park Series blankets in each cabin. 

Set out on a moderately adventurous, on-site 1.2-mile trail through pine woodlands, dotted by natural springs, spring-fed waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and massive rock shelters. A hammock swinging in a tree might reward a hiker at the end of the journey, and those who book the Adventure A Frames will find a Japanese-style hot tub in the middle of the forest. Guests can also choose to stay in Airstreams or adventure cabins, all with complimentary hiking poles, bug spray, and an invitation to the campfire music and s’mores on Fireside Fridays.


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