Hiking 500 Miles in the Smokies

The first time I went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park more than 15 years ago I knew it was someplace special. But it took me nearly 10 more years before I ever set foot on one of her trails. Work kept me busy and I had different recreational interests, but when I got serious about hiking around 2008, you couldn’t hold me back. Most of my early hikes were...

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Walking the Cades Cove Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Perhaps the most popular feature in all of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is a throwback to 19th century living. Cades Cove is a wide, verdant valley surrounded by mountains that today is teeming with wildlife and spring floral beauty. The 11-mile Loop Road around the valley provides an opportunity for motorists, bicyclists, even walkers like me to...

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Blue Ridge Parkway High Country – A Photo Essay

Leaf peepers head to Graveyard Fields in late September for the annual ritual of Autumn color in the high country. Located at mile 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields is one of the earliest locations to begin the chromatic display, as well as one of the most intense. From the bright red of the blueberry and sumac bushes, to the multi-colored hues of the maple...

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Hangin’ with the Elk at Cataloochee – A Photo Essay

Late September is an exciting time in Cataloochee Valley as the elk herd begins their annual mating dance ritual known as the rut. Cows, calves and yearlings live in loose herds or groups throughout most of the year, and are seen wandering the vast meadows of the valley all spring and summer. The bulls, however, live in bachelor groups or alone. It is rare to happen upon...

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Grand Highlands at Bearwallow Mountain – A Photo Essay

Grand Highlands is a real estate development in Henderson County, NC. What sets it apart is location. A location that is described as “an open meadow placed on a mountaintop.” Land that affords you some of the most spectacular views in Western North Carolina. I think of it as a picturesque spot for taking photographs of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains and valleys....

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Frijoles Canyon Nature Trail, Bandelier National Monument

The Puebloan people have lived in the American Southwest for many centuries. Archaeologists think they are descended from groups of hunters and gatherers who came to the region over 10,000 years ago. In the area that is now Bandelier National Monument, in Northern New Mexico, the villages of Tyuonyi and Tsankawi and their adjacent cliff dwellings appeared in the 13th...

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Canyon de Chelly National Monument

The labyrinth called Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d’SHAY) comprises several canyons that include Canyon de Chelly, Monument Canyon and Canyon del Muerto. At the mouth of the canyons near the tribal town of Chinle, in northeastern Arizona, the rock walls are only 30 feet high. Deeper in, the bright red sandstone bluffs rise dramatically to stand more than a thousand...

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Lake Lure and Chimney Rock State Park, Hickory Nut Gorge

Sometimes your hiking plans just don’t work out. That happened when our plans were kiboshed by a closed and padlocked gate. They say when the world gives you lemons, go take photographs, or something like that. There isn’t much more beautiful in Spring than Lake Lure and Chimney Rock State Park. Morse Park on Lake Lure features beautiful vistas of the...

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Cradle of Forestry, Pisgah National Forest

The Cradle of Forestry along Scenic Forest Byway 276 in Pisgah Ranger District is the birthplace of forest conservation in America. Spanning over 100 years of forest conservation history, the Cradle offers a snapshot of life at America’s first School of Forestry along the Biltmore Campus Trail. German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck accepted George Vanderbilt’s offer to...

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Frozen Waterfalls, Pisgah National Forest

When bitter cold winter temps come around, perhaps the last thing on your mind is hiking. I get that. I’m no fan of the cold either. As with everything else though, Mother Nature has a reward if you are willing to tolerate the temporary discomfort. Frozen waterfalls! It’s a rare occurrence in Western North Carolina, but usually once a year, the air will stay...

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Little Ruin Trail, Hovenweep National Monument, Utah

The canyon and mesa country north of the San Juan River in the four corners region holds many archaelogical sites where ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indian tribes lived. Round, square, and D-shaped towers grouped at canyon heads most vividly mark once thriving communities. Many dwellings stood right on the canyon rim, and some structures were built atop isolated or...

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Discovery Along “The Way”

The Way of St. James, is commonly known by its name in Spanish: El Camino de Santiago. The name comes from any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried in the cathedral. Many take up this route as a form of...

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Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smaller than Cades Cove on the western end of the national park, but similar in many respects, Cataloochee was named “Gadalutsi” by the Cherokee for the row upon row of mountain peaks that surround this picturesque valley. Just as Cades Cove, Cataloochee is home to many old historic structures restored by the National Park Service, as well as a wealth of...

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How Far to Fun and Inspiration? Mile…Mile and a Half

Disclosure: The DVD distributor for the Muir Project produced documentary “Mile…Mile and a Half” contacted me to watch this film at no cost to myself. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete a review. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement. A group of artists leave their daily lives behind to hike the John Muir Trail...

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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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12 Reasons to Watch Tell It on the Mountain

Disclosure: The producer of Tell It on the Mountain — Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail contacted me to watch his film at no cost to myself. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete a review. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement. It takes a special kind of person to drop everything and walk through the woods for five months. But...

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North Carolina Arboretum

Nestled in the woods of Pisgah National Forest in Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum is a 434 acre public garden located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Set amid rolling hills just off mile 393 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Arboretum offers more than ten miles of groomed hiking trails that are suitable for all ages. Home to one of the finest, most unique...

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Summit Stones & Adventure Musings

It’s all about the importance of giving back and passing forward… So says the masthead at Summit Stones & Adventure Musings, a fount of wisdom and inspiration that dares to take us to the “wild places,” the summits, canyons and waters of our imagined and realized adventures. True to his aspirations, DSD as he is known, has blessed me with an...

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