What State?

Shrine Ridge Trail, White River National Forest

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 @ 12:55 pm in Colorado, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, White River National Forest | 1 comment

Shrine Ridge Trail, White River National Forest

Fog and low-lying mist is very common in the Southern Appalachians. It is a product of the rainforest effect. Fog is highly unusual in the Rocky Mountains, but that’s what greeted Dave and I as we hit the trailhead to climb Shrine Ridge. It was somewhat of a dreary, forlorn scene as we walked from mountain bog to spruce forest to high meadow on our way to the ridgeline. Shrine Ridge has wide open vistas of three mountain ranges including Sawatch, Tenmile, and Gore… but not on this day. We visited Shrine Ridge Trail on Friday,...

read more

Spraddle Creek Trail, White River National Forest

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 @ 3:32 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes, White River National Forest | 2 comments

Spraddle Creek Trail, White River National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service has done a nice job of building trails up the watersheds that drain into the Town of Vail. Included among these is Spraddle Creek, located across I-70 from Vail Village. The reward at the top of the ridge is a mountain meadow that overlooks Vail, Beaver Creek ski mountain, and the Holy Cross Wilderness far, far away. Hike in late September for an extra treat of peak golden aspen color. My brother Dave and I enjoyed Spraddle Creek Trail on Thursday, September 29, 2016 beginning at 9:00AM and ending about 1:30PM. Our...

read more

Balsam Mountain Trail to Laurel Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Sep 11, 2016 @ 9:59 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 0 comments

Balsam Mountain Trail to Laurel Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This remote corner of the Smokies isn’t easy to get to, but your efforts will be rewarded with solitude, quiet, peaceful 2nd growth forest, and a pensive wandering. The Cherokee lived on one side of the ridge. The Cataloochee settlers on the other. They met in the middle to graze their cattle on “The Ledge” between the two. The bald knobs are reforested now, but I found myself thinking about what it was like to be here a century ago. A little warning is in order: you are in for a longish drive on twisty gravel road both...

read more

Long Bunk Trail at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 @ 11:58 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 2 comments

Long Bunk Trail at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The forest north of Cataloochee Valley in the Mt. Sterling watershed has recovered nicely from logging activities a century ago. It is dense, rich and diverse… a verdant testimony to Nature’s ability to reinvigorate herself. This hike starts at the north end of Little Cataloochee on Mt. Sterling Road and meets Long Bunk Trail a mile later. Long Bunk is a near 4-mile path that winds through cove and hardwood forest until it meets the Mt. Sterling Trail. Along the way you have an appointment with historic artifacts, and with dynamic...

read more

Foggy Morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Aug 13, 2016 @ 5:45 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest | 5 comments

Foggy Morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Every couple weeks or so during the green seasons I travel up to milepost 413 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Friends of the BRP has a volunteer program called Adopt-an-Overlook that I have participated in for six years. I am responsible for keeping Pounding Mill Overlook clean and green, trash free, and desirable for the tourists. Saturday, August 13, 2016 was one of those days. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this program, and I believe it has paid off in ways other than simply clean overlooks on the Parkway. Since I began...

read more

Appalachian Trail from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 @ 2:40 pm in Appalachian Trail, Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Tennessee | 3 comments

Appalachian Trail from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina can get pretty warm and muggy in mid-summer. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not exempt from that. So when I hike in July and August I like to head for the high country… and there’s nowhere higher in the Smokies than Clingmans Dome. In fact, it’s the third highest peak in the East and the highest point along the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Taking the A.T. from Clingmans Dome to Newfound Gap on the North Carolina / Tennessee state line is a great workout through...

read more

Mountains to Sea Trail Near Old Bald, Nantahala National Forest

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 @ 11:13 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Mountains to Sea Trail, Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

Mountains to Sea Trail Near Old Bald, Nantahala National Forest

Love the high country in summer. It’s like getting an extra month of spring. For much of its length through the Western North Carolina mountains, the Mountains to Sea Trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is an area near mile marker 434 on the Parkway, beneath Old Bald, where the MST winds through mixed forest and high mountain meadows teeming with wildflowers. The air is cool and the vistas impressive here in the Great Balsam Mountains. There are also plenty of old logging roads making this playground one that is suited for...

read more

Little River and Goshen Prong Trails at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jun 25, 2016 @ 2:38 pm in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee, Water Hikes | 1 comment

Little River and Goshen Prong Trails at Elkmont, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Little River headwaters region of the Smokies was heavily logged in the early 20th century. As a result, a community called Elkmont sprung up in the valley below to support the lumberjacks and their families. Elkmont eventually became a mountain resort for the well-to-do of eastern Tennessee with its rustic cabins along the river. These days those quaint cottages have become derelict as the national park simply doesn’t have the funds to maintain them. So now Elkmont is a favorite campground among the regulars, and a hub for a...

read more

Summer Solstice on Sam Knob – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 @ 11:45 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest | 4 comments

Summer Solstice on Sam Knob – A Photo Essay

The summer solstice occurs when a planet’s rotational axis, in either northern or southern hemispheres, is most inclined toward the Sun. Most cultures have marked this occasion in some ritualized manner and from time immemorial people have acknowledged the rising of the sun on the summer solstice. At Stonehenge, the heelstone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the center of the stone circle. At Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, the Chacoan people were intimately aware of all their surroundings. They were close observers of the skies and...

read more

Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jun 18, 2016 @ 12:09 pm in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Vista Hikes | 9 comments

Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I have hiked to Hemphill Bald from the east along the Cataloochee Divide many times. However, this was the first time approaching from the west on the Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap. This made my second foray into the Heintooga region of the Smokies in recent weeks, another beautiful piece of the national park that doesn’t get enough attention. This trail would show up in any hiking glossary as the pure definition of roller coaster. While only changing little more than 500 feet in elevation, because of all the up and down you will...

read more

Appalachian Trail from Yellow Mountain Gap to Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 @ 12:31 pm in Appalachian Trail, Best Hike, Cherokee National Forest, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Difficult Hikes, Roan Highlands, Tennessee, Vista Hikes | 8 comments

Appalachian Trail from Yellow Mountain Gap to Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains

You can see them from Roan Highlands. They appear when viewed from Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain too. The long, green balds that comprise Little Hump and Big Hump Mountains stick out like limes in a grapefruit basket. And, you can see all those other landmarks from the Hump Mountains. The iconic Appalachian Trail (AT) arrives from the Highlands of Roan to traverse these two treeless knobs that stand well over 5,000 feet at their summits. Begin from the headwaters of Roaring Creek, near Spruce Pine. Climb for about ¾ mile on...

read more

Flat Creek Trail to Heintooga, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jun 10, 2016 @ 4:23 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 2 comments

Flat Creek Trail to Heintooga, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This delightful forested trail in the Heintooga section of the Smokies follows Bunches and Flat Creeks up Overlook Ridge to a perch high above Cataloochee Valley and Cherokee, NC. Few short trails in the Smokies are as memorable. The pathway is carpeted with a charming wispy grass that waves in the breeze and tickles your legs as you pass by. What’s not to love? My brother Dave and I visited Flat Creek on Friday, June 3, 2016 beginning at 8:15AM and ending about 12:30PM. Our plan was to take the Flat Creek Trail up to the Heintooga...

read more

Big Bradley Falls Overlook, Green River Game Lands

Posted by on Apr 30, 2016 @ 12:25 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Easy Hikes, Water Hikes | 3 comments

Big Bradley Falls Overlook, Green River Game Lands

Like its partner, Little Bradley Falls, this hike is found in a remote corner of the Green River Game Lands near Saluda, NC that enables you to enjoy beautiful waterfalls. Big Bradley Trail follows Cove Creek along its path to an eventual meeting with Green River, but before it gets there, it free-falls 75 feet over the stone precipice at Big Bradley Falls. Bring your water shoes for this hike for the wet crossing of Cove Creek. I visited this area on Thursday, April 21, 2016 beginning at 10:30AM and ending about 12:00PM. My plan was to take...

read more

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

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 @ 2:04 pm in Best Hike, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Inspiration, Photo Essays, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee | 2 comments

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. Think of it as an outdoor museum. 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 sight-see at a leisurely pace. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park, including churches,...

read more

Schoolhouse Gap Trail to Whiteoak Sink, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 @ 10:51 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee | 0 comments

Schoolhouse Gap Trail to Whiteoak Sink, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Without a doubt one of the most popular wildflower hikes on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Whiteoak Sink is a basin surrounded by steep hills. In April each year this natural botanical garden comes alive with more than 30 varieties of native wildflowers right alongside the trail for all to enjoy. The name “Sink” comes from the caves that are found in the area, really more like rocky sinkholes. Much like Cades Cove just a few miles to the west, Whiteoak Sink was settled in the 19th century long before...

read more

Kanati Fork Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Apr 7, 2016 @ 2:15 pm in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes | 4 comments

Kanati Fork Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This lovely wildflower trail is about half way up Newfound Gap Road from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, but its shortish length and tranquil setting belie the grueling terrain. Climbing from the Oconaluftee River valley to Thomas Divide, 2,200 feet above, it is a true test of stamina for even the most seasoned hikers. Kanati Fork is one of those picturesque drainages seemingly found everywhere in the Smokies. The mountains and water give the land its character. The abundant wildflowers along this trail are simply an extra added bonus. I...

read more

Spring Comes to the Smokies – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Mar 27, 2016 @ 11:20 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Photo Essays, Rated Moderate Hikes, Tennessee | 0 comments

Spring Comes to the Smokies – A Photo Essay

The Smokies can always be counted on for fulfilling the promise of spring renewal. One of the best spots for finding early blooms of exotic native wildflowers is on Porters Creek Trail in the Greenbrier section of the national park. Along the pathway is a diverse array of flowery goodness including the multi-acre mystical fringed phacelia garden, seemingly home to a host of woodland creatures like sprites and faeries. The dazzling display of Mother Nature’s finest has been a couple weeks early this year, due in large part to a very warm...

read more

Paris Mountain State Park Trail System, South Carolina

Posted by on Mar 19, 2016 @ 9:23 am in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, South Carolina, Water Hikes | 3 comments

Paris Mountain State Park Trail System, South Carolina

Named for an opportunistic traitor who supported the Crown during the Revolutionary War, Paris Mountain State Park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Richard Pearis owned 150,000 acres including what is now Greenville, SC and this state park north of the city. Once no more than a rural retreat, Paris Mountain is now a bustling destination for hikers and mountain bikers who test their conditioning on the park’s mature trail system. In addition to the near 15-mile trail infrastructure, there is...

read more

Palmer Creek Trail at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 @ 11:13 am in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 6 comments

Palmer Creek Trail at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Smokies? Is it 6,000 foot mountaintop vistas that expand the imagination? Perhaps you think of the half-million acres of forest or the hundreds of varieties of wildflowers. There is one other constant in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and that is water. Cataloochee Valley is surrounded on all sides by myriad creeks and streams that tumble down from those tall mountaintops. Among them is Palmer Creek, named for a 19th century settler. Pretty Hollow Gap Trail and Palmer...

read more

Ridgeline Trail to Hickory Mountain Loop, DuPont State Forest

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 @ 12:52 pm in DuPont State Forest, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 0 comments

Ridgeline Trail to Hickory Mountain Loop, DuPont State Forest

When you step on a trail at DuPont State Forest, you can usually tell pretty quickly if it was designed and built for mountain biking. Some tell-tale signs are banked curves and bumps, rails for tricks, and a smooth, hard-packed surface. Such is the case with Ridgeline Trail. DuPont State Forest is a haven for mountain bikers from all over the Southeastern United States, and Ridgeline Trail is one of their favorites. Hey, equestrians like it too. Combine it with a loop around and over Hickory Mountain for a nice hike, or an exciting ride. I...

read more

Appalachian Trail to Mt. Kephart and The Jumpoff – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 @ 9:44 am in Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Rated Difficult Hikes, Tennessee, Vista Hikes | 5 comments

Appalachian Trail to Mt. Kephart and The Jumpoff – A Photo Essay

The Appalachian Trail splits the states of North Carolina and Tennessee through most of the breadth of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hugging the state line as it traverses the rugged and remote ridges, the AT is a favorite destination for day hikers and thru hikers alike. There is a three and a half mile stretch from Newfound Gap to the summit of Mt. Kephart, and beyond to a magnificent overlook known simply as The Jumpoff, that provides an excellent example of what high country Smoky Mountains terrain is all about. I’ve written...

read more

Thomas Divide Trail to Nettle Creek Bald, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 @ 10:54 am in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 1 comment

Thomas Divide Trail to Nettle Creek Bald, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Thomas Divide is one of those ridge hikes that splits the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains Range. It is also one of the longer trails in the national park at near 14 miles, but you can do as much or as little as you wish for a day hike. The trail passes through a rich forest of Eastern hemlock, beech, birch and multiple varieties of maple. The crest also enjoys the presence of spruce and fir. When the leaves are down you can see Clingmans Dome on the west side of the ridge and the massive shoulders of Richland Mountain to the east. Ken and...

read more

Walking the Pisgah Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Posted by on Feb 18, 2016 @ 11:37 am in Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Photo Essays, Pisgah National Forest, Vista Hikes | 4 comments

Walking the Pisgah Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Walking the Blue Ridge Parkway in winter is a great way to get a slow-motion view of the wonderful vistas that whiz by at 45 mph in your car. The Parkway is closed so you don’t have to worry about traffic. The only concern really is perhaps slipping on snow or ice. This latest in the Photo Essay series looks at a 4-mile stretch of the BRP between mileposts 412 and 408. It starts where Scenic Hwy 276 climbs to meet the Parkway at milepost 412. The Cold Mountain Overlook is right there, and that’s where Ken and I parked. Gates are...

read more

Flat Rock and Plantation Trails, DuPont State Forest

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 @ 10:24 am in DuPont State Forest, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Easy Hikes | 1 comment

Flat Rock and Plantation Trails, DuPont State Forest

Working on a little project to tick off all the trails within DuPont State Forest, I visited two short ones that are close to each other in the northeast corner off Sky Valley Road. Each is little more than a mile round trip. Flat Rock Trail passes through a boulder field and past a recent logging operation to a dead end at the confluence of Jim Creek with Grassy Creek. Plantation Trail walks among an absolutely stunning pine forest that, judging by all the ribbons tied to trunks, is unfortunately probably next for the lumberjack’s axe....

read more

Pitch Pine, Three Lakes and Bridal Overlook Trails, DuPont State Forest

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 @ 10:35 am in DuPont State Forest, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 1 comment

Pitch Pine, Three Lakes and Bridal Overlook Trails, DuPont State Forest

Located in the heart of DuPont State Forest, Three Lakes Trail does exactly what its name implies… it takes you to a trio of very picturesque lakes near Conservation Road. Lake Dense is an ideal stop for a family picnic. Lake Alford, really more of a pond, may be the most vivid and charming of all. The largest, Lake Julia, is breathtaking from every angle. Add to this a stroll along Pitch Pine Trail to reach the lakes, and a visit to Bridal Overlook afterward, and you can make a delightful day in the woods of DuPont State Forest. I...

read more

Pine Tree Trail and Cascade Trail Loop, DuPont State Forest

Posted by on Jan 23, 2016 @ 10:40 am in DuPont State Forest, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Easy Hikes | 1 comment

Pine Tree Trail and Cascade Trail Loop, DuPont State Forest

Arriving before the morning sun had a chance to melt the fresh dusting of snow, I walked this short loop in the southwest corner of DuPont State Forest with the sound of woodpeckers filling the air… and not much else. It was quiet. A half inch of snowfall muted the normal sounds. I purposely picked this woodsy loop. Usually enjoyed by mountain bikers, I guessed correctly that I would have it all to myself on this day. So for two serene hours I strolled along Pine Tree and Cascade trails following rabbit and squirrel tracks and listening...

read more

Noland Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on Jan 17, 2016 @ 3:53 pm in Forest Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 0 comments

Noland Creek Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Bryson City, NC is located on the far southern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hosts the Deep Creek and Lakeview regions of the park. Noland Creek Trail runs north/south off Lakeview Drive between Fontana Lake and the Noland Divide high above in the mountains. The trailhead is one mile north of the lake and heads in both directions. On this day Ken and I headed north up into the drainage. The Noland Creek valley contains a beautiful hardwood and pine forest and at one time was home to several settler families. If you look...

read more

Jones Gap Trail to Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap State Park

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 @ 12:03 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, Mountain Bridge Wilderness, Rated Difficult Hikes, South Carolina, Water Hikes | 0 comments

Jones Gap Trail to Rainbow Falls, Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in upstate South Carolina very near the state line with its neighbor to the north. Along with Caesars Head State Park, these two share an area known as Mountain Bridge Wilderness. The Jones Gap Trail follows the Middle Saluda River along an old roadway built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this cove backcountry the river is quite wild with many waterfalls and rapids that add exciting sights and sounds to a pristine mountain woodland. Near the eastern end of Jones Gap Trail are two...

read more