Turkeypen Gap Trail and South Mills River Trail Loop, Pisgah National Forest

I always enjoy hikes along the South Mills River in the Pisgah Ranger District. This loop follows the north side of the riverbank for several miles along an old logging road. But to get there, first you cross Sharpy Mountain from Turkeypen Gap. The trail travels through beautiful hardwood and heath forest as it roller-coasters across four gaps to its meeting with Wagon...

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Boogerman Loop Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Robert “Booger” Palmer may have a silly nickname, but there’s one thing we can always appreciate him for. He never would allow loggers onto his 220 acre homestead in Cataloochee Valley. As a result, still today there is old growth forest that includes poplar trees with trunks six feet in diameter. The massive hemlocks have unfortunately succumbed to the...

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Davidson River Trail, Pisgah National Forest

This short, little trail from Cove Creek to the State Fish Hatchery is often overlooked, but it will take you to some of the most gnarly whitewater on Davidson River. The trail is simple. It’s just a straight 1.1 mile shot from one end to the other, and then back. Ah, but have you ever seen a two-tiered trail? If you promise to be very, very careful on the river...

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Forest Road Connector of Caney Bottom and Daniel Ridge Trails, Pisgah National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is the greatest road builder in the world. Oft times, those forest service roads come in handy for hikers to get from one ridge to another, from one creek drainage to another, or simply from one trail to another. That’s the case with Forest Road 225 in Pisgah National Forest. FR225 tips the Caney Bottom and Cove Creek Trails on its eastern...

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Ivestor Gap Trail to Little East Fork Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness

When the Blue Ridge Parkway reopens each year in early spring, it is great to get back into the high country at milepost 420. That means the Black Balsam area and Shining Rock Wilderness. An oft overlooked trail on the west side of the wilderness is Little East Fork, a twisty path that follows the Little East Fork of the Pigeon River from Shining Rock Gap to the Daniel...

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Buck Spring Trail to Pisgah Inn, Pisgah National Forest

There’s a trail from Scenic Hwy 276 that parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds around 10 ridges and makes 13 easy stream crossings on its way to the Pisgah Inn on the Parkway. Buck Spring Trail eventually ends up at the site of the former hunting lodge of George W. Vanderbilt II, the father of Pisgah National Forest. In the spring this trail is alive with...

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Green River Cove Trail, Green River Game Lands

From Saluda, NC the Green River Cove Road drops more than a thousand feet into the Green River Gorge to a meeting alongside the Green River. On the other side of the river is the Green River Cove Trail, at the southern boundary of the Green River Game Lands. The trail starts at Wilderness Cove and follows the river for 4.2 miles to the base of the Green River Narrows, a...

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Reasonover Creek Trail to Lake Julia and Fawn Lake, DuPont State Forest

Down in the far southern section of DuPont State Forest is the Reasonover area, near the community of Cedar Mountain. Home to several trails and a couple of reservoirs, like most of DuPont, Reasonover is a great place to go hiking. Especially if you want to stay away from the high country during the winter season, Reasonover is less than 3,000 feet, so you’re a lot...

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Greenland Creek Trail at Panthertown, Nantahala National Forest

Panthertown Valley in Nantahala National Forest is known for its stunning mountaintop vistas, but also for a numerous and varied assortment of waterfalls that run the gamut from slides, to cascades, to ledge and plunge. Six of those falls are along Greenland Creek, including the feature cascade Greenland Creek Falls. Beyond this tall waterfall, the Greenland Creek Trail...

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East Lake Creek Trail, White River National Forest

I went to the Colorado Rockies in late September-early October with the expressed intention of being there for the autumnal yellowing of the aspen trees. It’s a gorgeous sight, the leaves take on a golden glow that shimmers in the breeze. Well, mission accomplished. My brother saved East Lake Creek Trail for the last hike of my visit, one that walks for miles in...

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Bowman’s Shortcut Trail, White River National Forest

Bowman’s Shortcut is an easy-to-get-to trail that tops a ridge that enables views of three different mountain ranges — Sawatch, Gore, and Tenmile. You’ll start out climbing through a pine forest with occasional glimpses of the distant peaks through the trees, then reach the bald ridge and the magnificent views of some of Colorado’s highest...

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Big Glassy Mountain Trail, Carl Sandburg’s Connemara

Carl Sandburg’s wife Lilian discovered the mountain farm named Connemara in the community of Flat Rock, south of Asheville, NC. From 1945, until his death in 1967, the famous American poet, biographer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author lived and worked on the 264-acre estate. The family then sold the property and donated the contents to the National Park Service...

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Graveyard Fields Waterfalls, Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields is an anomaly — a high mountain meadow and bog surrounded by 6,000 foot mountain peaks. The wide-open spaces found at Graveyard Fields are a rarity, an exception in the otherwise lush and densely forested slopes of Pisgah National Forest and Shining Rock Wilderness. Popular with locals and tourists alike, no trip to the high country of Western...

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Big Bald Mountain on Appalachian Trail, Cherokee National Forest

Northeast of Mars Hill, NC, the Big Bald Range straddles the Tennesssee/North Carolina border and marks the boundary between Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. The Appalachian Trail (AT) follows the state line, as it does for nearly all its length between these two states. The destination for this hike is 5,516 foot Big Bald Mountain, another of the grassy balds that...

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Appalachian Trail on Grassy Ridge, Roan Highlands

Located along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, and where Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests merge, Grassy Ridge in the Roan Highlands is the longest stretch of grassy balds in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Trail navigates this stunning ridge, hopping from Carvers Gap to Round Bald to Jane Bald, and on to the 6,169 foot Grassy Ridge Bald. The...

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Appalachian Trail to Max Patch and Buckeye Ridge

Standing guard along the state line, Max Patch Mountain is a grassy bald with fabulous panoramic views of the surrounding North Carolina and Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains. Oh, and by the way, the celebrated Appalachian Trail crosses its 4,629 foot summit. So far as Southern Appalachian summits go, this one is moderately short and easy, but you can make a day of it by...

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Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Appalachian Trail straddles the Tennessee/North Carolina state line in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for more than 70 miles. A particularly scenic day hike on the AT is the four mile stretch from Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion, a remote and rugged outcropping that sits on the ridge between the states. Along this sharp ridge you will pass magnificent views of...

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Funneltop Mountain and Squirrel Gap to South Mills River, Pisgah National Forest

Southeast of the Cradle of Forestry National Historical Site is a remote area of Pisgah National Forest with trails that will take you along ridge lines with views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Looking Glass Rock, then follow creeks and streams as they tumble down the mountains to the western end of South Mills River. You will encounter names like Squirrel Gap, Glady...

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Rough Creek Watershed, Haywood County, North Carolina

The Rough Creek Watershed is 870 acres of protected mountain land north of Canton, North Carolina, in Haywood County. This is privately held land, so there are rules for hikers and mountain bikers, but it is open to the general public. The trail system is more than 10 miles, and incorporates historical road beds with well maintained single tracks for foot and bike...

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Daniel Ridge Loop Trail, Pisgah National Forest

One of many trails found off Forest Road 475 in the Pisgah Ranger District near the State Fish Hatchery, Daniel Ridge Loop is a beautiful 5-miler that takes you near the headwaters of Davidson River. As you climb the ridge you’ll have views of the Looking Glass and Cedar Rock plutons on the south side, and drainage off four ridges into Davidson River on the north...

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Fletcher Creek and Middle Fork Trails, Pisgah National Forest

North Mills River Recreation Area in Pisgah National Forest, along with its brother at South Mills River, has a rich and varied trail system. Among them, Fletcher Creek is a typical streamside trail that passes an old beaver pond, thick forest of hardwood and hemlock, several grassy meadows and a number of log bridge crossings over Fletcher Creek, Spencer Branch and...

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Mountains to Sea Trail Over Green Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Quite frequently in winter, the Blue Ridge Parkway will be closed for snow and ice. Not great fun for those who wish to drive along the beautiful ridges. Ah — but it’s the perfect time for hikers to get out on the trails that parallel the Parkway — like the Mountains to Sea. Between Pigeon Gap and Bennett Gap at miles 412-414 the Mountains to Sea Trail...

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Ivestor Gap Trail and Fork Mountain Trail to Birdstand Mountain, Pisgah National Forest

The Black Balsam area of Pisgah National Forest is surrounded by Middle Prong Wilderness on the west, and Shining Rock Wilderness on the east. Some of the best hiking found in Western North Carolina lies in this high country just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the end of Black Balsam Road at milepost 420 on the Parkway, the Ivestor Gap Trail will take you deep into...

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Mountains to Sea Trail to Green Mountain Trail, Middle Prong Wilderness

Between mileposts 423 and 424 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Scenic Hwy 215 crosses at Beech Gap. If you head about 1/4 mile north on 215, the famous Mountains to Sea Trail crosses from the Black Balsam area into Middle Prong Wilderness. The MtS winds through an ever-changing forest that runs the gamut of evergreens found in the high country of Western North Carolina. Past...

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Cascade Falls, Little Bearwallow Falls, and Bearwallow Mountain, Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge runs from Bearwallow Mountain in the northwest to Lake Lure southeast. Included in its 10-mile length are majestic cliffs of granite, inspiring waterfalls and scenic wilderness that beckons to the explorer in you. Chimney Rock State Park, Florence Nature Preserve and Rumbling Bald all offer excellent hiking within the gorge. Up in the northwest corner...

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Burnt Mountain Trail, Little River Trail, Cedar Rock Trail, DuPont State Forest

Deep at the southern tip of DuPont State Forest is an area loved by mountain bikers, but also a nice place for scenic forest, riverside, and small mountain hiking. The elevation is in the 2800-3000 foot range, so it’s ideal for winter hiking where you’re not likely to get deep snow like the 6000′ peaks in the nearby national forest. Start with a lovely...

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Pilot Rock Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Pilot Rock is another of the granite plutons found in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. Not as spectacular as it’s more famous cousin, Looking Glass Rock, Pilot still offers remarkable views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and national forest, including the Cradle of Forestry National Historical Site. It’s a short mile climb of almost 700 feet...

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Wilson Creek Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Think of Wilson Creek as Linville Gorge lite. A long, rugged wilderness gorge running from the nearly 6000′ mountain peaks at its north, Wilson Creek shares many similarities with its bigger brother to the west. Wilson Creek was named a National Wild and Scenic River in August, 2000. The gorge area is a haven for recreation including hiking of course, but also fun...

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Harper Creek Falls, Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River, Pisgah National Forest

One of the highlights of the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River area is Harper Creek Falls. Located in the Grandfather Mountain Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest, this three-tiered falls is a fun place to swim, slide and dive — but the rugged terrain makes for a difficult and dangerous access. The Harper Creek Trail is easy enough. With the exception of a...

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Cat Gap Trail to John Rock, Pisgah National Forest

The always popular Cat Gap Loop Trail is a jumping off point for many great hikes within the Davidson River area of Pisgah National Forest. Included among them is the picturesque John Rock, one of the area’s plutons that stand over the recreation area. With views of the Fish Hatchery, Looking Glass Rock, Pilot Mountain and the ridges that run to Graveyard Fields,...

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Bad Fork Trail, North Mills River, Pisgah National Forest

Another of the myriad of ridge and gap trails from North Mills River to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bad Fork Trail follows its namesake creek from Forest Road 5000 to Bent Creek Gap at mile 400 on the Parkway. This is a four mile round trip that can be extended by continuing on the Mountains to Sea Trail on the north side of the Parkway. Only moderately steep, this is a nice...

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North Slope Connector to Art Loeb Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Section 1 of the Art Loeb Trail is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC overlooking the Davidson River Recreation Area. The North Slope Trail is a loop contained within the boundary created by the Art Loeb and the river. Between the two trails is a connector. Combining the two via the connector makes an 8-mile loop that takes in a large portion of the forest above...

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