Ivestor Gap and Art Loeb Trails to The Narrows, Shining Rock Wilderness

This a continuation beyond the hike described in the Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain trail report. The Art Loeb Trail continues down the north side of Tennent Mountain to Grassy Cove. There it meets the Ivestor Gap Trail for a lengthy hike into Shining Rock Wilderness. The area was named by the Cherokee for the large deposits of quartz found along what has become...

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Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is in the southwestern corner of Utah, near Zion and Cedar Breaks. Most of the park is above 8000 feet elevation, so the air is clear and the views long. Bryce Canyon is famous for its odd, fanciful geologic formations known as hoodoos and the myriad of color found in the sandstone. The Fairyland Loop Trail is one of the best kept secrets about...

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Rock Jock and Conley Cove Trails, Linville Gorge Wilderness

I will probably always be comparing Linville Gorge west rim trails that go down to the river to the Babel Tower Trail because that is the first one I hiked. Conley Cove is not quite as difficult because, unlike the straight-line trail that is Babel Tower, Conley Cove is a long continuous series of switchbacks. But, it is still a stern test of strength and stamina. This...

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Chestnut Branch and Big Creek Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sitting right along the Tennessee/North Carolina border in the far northeast corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an enjoyable section of forest and creek side trails that navigate the Big Creek area of the park. The Appalachian Trail goes through the area, as does the Benton MacKaye Trail, named for the planner of the AT. There are mountains in the region as...

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Hawksbill and Tablerock Mountains, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Linville Gorge runs north to south and has two entirely different rims. Trails on the west rim start on top and go down into the gorge to Linville River. Trails on the east rim go to a series of mountains that offer views into the full length of the gorge, and of the North Carolina Piedmont to the east and the Black Mountains to the west. There are a couple downward...

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High Sierra Express Lumbar Pack

Sometimes a day pack is just too much. Maybe it’s a short hike, or a flat hike. Perhaps you don’t need as much water or food or backup clothing. I’ve found myself in that situation before and decided it was time for a “fanny” pack or lumbar pack. The final instigation was when I went to The Masters last month. I knew I wanted to have a rain...

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Longs Peak Trail to Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park in northeast Colorado range from 8,000 feet in the grassy wetlands of the montane, to well above 14,000 feet in its alpine regions. The tallest mountain in the park is Longs Peak at 14,259′. Sitting in a circular basin 2400′ below Longs Peak is Chasm Lake, a mirror of water surrounded by the rocky alpine. More than...

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Pulliam Creek Trail to Green River Narrows, Green River Game Lands

Green River Game Lands is a 10,000 acre tract in Henderson and Polk Counties owned by the state of North Carolina and maintained by ECO, the Environmental and Conservation Organization, a non-profit group in Hendersonville, NC. There are 16 miles of hiking trails available within the boundary of the Game Lands. The Green River Narrows is a haven for extreme kayaking,...

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Babel Tower Trail, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Explorer William Linville and his sons were scalped by Indians in 1766 in what would eventually become known as Linville Gorge. I do believe I’d be fine with going through life not having anything named for me. The Linville Gorge Wilderness in Burke County, NC was one of the first protected areas in the country under the Wilderness Act of 1964. I’ve enjoyed...

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Smartwool NTS Midweight Crew and Bottom

I’ve been hiking off and on for more than 30 years, but I never have had an interest in winter hiking, until now. Not a big fan of the cold and snow, but I gave it a try this year, and I’m glad I did. The key difference maker, for me, was layering. Starting with a good comfortable wicking base layer, and then covering my core area for warmth, then topping it...

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Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway

Frequently. That is how many times I have done this hike. So many, I’ve lost count. I love the western North Carolina high country, and this area along the Blue Ridge Parkway known as Black Balsam has nearly a dozen peaks over 5,800 feet elevation, with Black Balsam Knob being the highest at 6,214. This area has some of the highest hiking on the Parkway. Many of...

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Coontree Loop to Bennett Gap, Pisgah National Forest

Coontree is a popular picnic area for familes along Davidson River in Pisgah National Forest, NC. What most of them probably don’t know though, is that there is a nice hiking trail just across Hwy. 276 from the parking area. It is very easy to get to, as it is only five miles from the crossroads in Brevard, NC. The trail itself is a loop with a connector at the top...

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Two-Heel Drive, Tom Mangan’s site for hikers, campers and nature cravers

Earlier today, Tom Mangan of Two-Heel Drive challenged hiking bloggers to “review and profile a great hiking blog you discovered in the past month.” For me, this one’s easy… why it’s Tom’s site itself. Unlike my neophyte month-long foray into the joy of trail reporting, Tom has been at it for five years with his well-known and...

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The Narrows in Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

This hike has a reputation for being one of the best in the country, for good reason. The scenery, the environment, the trail (or lack thereof) are all unique and awe inspiring. You are actually hiking in the Virgin River through what is known as The Narrows in Zion Canyon. Steep sandstone cliffs rise a thousand feet or more on both sides of the river. The colors in the...

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Pilot Cove/Slate Rock Creek Trails, Pisgah National Forest

Hidden deep within the Mills River area of Pisgah National Forest, the Pilot Cove/Slate Rock Creek loop trail is primarily a water feature hike. There are two notable waterfalls and several cascades on Slate Rock Creek, and views of Slate Rock through the trees. We encountered several creek crossings (some wading, some with log bridges), and a relatively young forest....

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Art Loeb Trail to Cold Mountain, Shining Rock Wilderness

Cold Mountain gained national attention following the publishing of Charles Frazier’s Civil War era novel in 1997. Western NC hiking enthusiasts have known of its appeal for much longer. Cold Mountain is a real mountain that stretches 6030′ and is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness and Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. You can reach the spur trail...

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The Masters 2011

Meanderthals took a little break last week as I attended The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. There are a handful of athletic events that qualify as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Some that come to mind are The Olympics, The World Cup, The Superbowl, The NCAA Final Four. In my estimation The Masters is right there with that group. It may be one of the...

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Cedar Run and Whiteoak Canyon Trails, Shenandoah National Park

Most people think of Skyline Drive, or the mountains that overlook Shenandoah Valley when they imagine Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. But my favorite hike during a visit in early autumn was the Cedar Run, Whiteoak Circuit that starts at milepost 45.6 on the SD. It’s a brute of a hike, but well worth the effort exerted for the combinations of creeks and...

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Mt. LeConte via Alum Cave Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the enduring pleasures in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is scaling the 6,593 feet of beauty that is Mt. LeConte. It isn’t quite the highest mountain in the park, but it is by far the tallest hike from its base. The summit is so popular, there are five distinct trails to the top, varying in distance and difficulty. My...

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Jonas Ridge and Shortoff Trails, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Formal protection of the Linville Gorge began in 1952, when the land was purchased with funds donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. When the Wilderness Act was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Johnson in 1964, the Linville Gorge Wilderness became one of the first formally designated Wilderness areas of the new National Wilderness Preservation System....

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Panthertown Trail System, Nantahala National Forest

Panthertown Valley lies in Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers and Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. The Forest Service, along with the Friends of Panthertown, have created a trail system in combination with old logging roads that lead to waterfalls, cliffs, bogs, deep forest and spectacular overlooks of the surrounding valley. Panthertown has been designated a Blue...

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Buckeye Gap, Haywood Gap, Blue Ridge Parkway

The Middle Prong Wilderness is west of North Carolina Hwy. 215 and north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is named after the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River that runs through the heart of the wilderness. This is remote territory in the high country near 6000 feet. Prepare yourself for heavy breathing — from exertion, and from natural beauty. Buckeye Gap Trail...

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Fryingpan Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway

Between North Carolina Scenic Hwy. 276 and the Pisgah Inn is Fryingpan Mountain, one of a series of mountains along the north side of the Blue Ridge Parkway that help form the Pisgah Ridge. It sits at mile 410 on the parkway. A unique feature of Fryingpan is the 1940s era fire tower that affords spectacular views of the surrounding Blue Ridge. The tower is on the...

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Sam Knob and Little Sam, Blue Ridge Parkway

This hike is in one of my favorite areas of Pisgah National Forest along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. It lies in a little corner between Middle Prong Wilderness and Shining Rock Wilderness where the mountain tops are bald and exceed 6000′. This hike occurred on March 24, 2011 beginning at 10:00AM and ending about 3:00PM. The goal on this day...

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Table Rock Trail, Table Rock State Park, South Carolina

This park sits right on the cliff’s edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment that drops down from the mountains in western North Carolina to the upcountry of South Carolina. The park is more than 3,000 acres of trails, lakes, cabins and camping. Table Rock State Park is located 12 miles north of Pickens, SC. This hike occurred on February 2, 2011 beginning at 9:30AM and...

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