The Land Between Two Wildernesses – A Photo Essay

I like to do most of my summertime hiking in the high country to avoid the heat, and the bugs. It’s like getting extra, added months of spring. So when the first week of summer rolled around, I thought of that section of Pisgah National Forest that lies between Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hwy 215, and Black Balsam Road.

You can make a very nice 9-mile loop out of the Flat Laurel Creek Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail, staying between 5,000-6,000 feet elevation the whole way. There is still a wide variety of wildflowers hanging on in late June, including the last of the mountain laurels, plenty of daisies, and the very interesting ninebark bush. I even found a surprising grouping of spring beauties hidden deep within the forest, likely the latest I have ever seen these tiny appropriately-named delights. The St. John’s wort was also just beginning to open its buds.

This visit was on June 25, 2017. I arrived at 10:00AM after a trash pickup at my Parkway Adopt-an-Overlook. For the next six hours I enjoyed just about every variety of forest that Western North Carolina has to offer. I’ve always loved this hike for its variety. The weather was perfect, about 60° when I started and 64° with a light breeze at the end. Can’t beat that! Enjoy my photos from the Land Between Two Wildernesses.

Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below the gallery. Thanks for visiting!



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.


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  1. clifwilliams

    Beautiful Jeff. I haven’t been up in awhile. I see time lapse with the clouds and potential drone footage with the brilliant green vistas. Inspiring!

  2. What were the sounds like? Were birds especially active and singing? Great pics,,, Love the fungus and he mushroom. So photogenic…. The Carolina Rhododendron always bloom in late June here. Vann

  3. Tim Truemper

    Your photo essays are so enjoyable. I have to point out that the mushroom shot from below was excellent for clarity and composition. I have to get back there in that incredible area

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