Jones Gap Trail and Coldspring Branch Trail Loop, Jones Gap State Park, SC

Jones Gap State Park sits on the Blue Ridge Escarpment in northwestern 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 Saluda River along an old interstate road built by Solomon Jones in the 1850s. In this backcountry...

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Thompson Creek and Pilot Rock Loop, Pisgah National Forest

Thompson Creek Trail climbs Thompson Ridge from Forest Road 1206 to a point just below the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. To the southwest it overlooks the Cradle of Forestry National Historic Site and the Pink Beds. To the east it crosses from Transylvania County into Henderson County and joins the Pilot Rock Trail along the Slate Rock Ridge for the descent...

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Corn Mill Shoals Trail, Little River Trail, Cedar Rock Trail, Big Rock Trail, DuPont State Forest, NC

DuPont State Forest, in western North Carolina between Hendersonville and Brevard, was sold to the state by DuPont Corporation under favorable donation and conservation terms in 1996. Within its boundary are more than 10,000 forested acres and 80 miles of hiking and biking trails. Elevation ranges from 2300′ at Hooker Falls on the Little River to 3600′ on...

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Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Dismal Trail, Naturaland Trust Trail, Gum Gap Trail, Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina

Matthews Creek plunges more than 1,000 feet over Raven Cliff Falls into the gorge it has carved below Raven Cliff Mountain. One of a myriad of landmarks along the Blue Ridge Escarpment in Caesars Head State Park, this gorge offers a very challenging yet rewarding hike. Part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area that also includes Jones Gap State Park, this is the most...

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Florence Nature Preserve, Hickory Nut Gorge

Donated to the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Florence in 1996, the Florence Nature Preserve is 600 acres on the slopes of Little Pisgah Mountain. With more than five miles of public hiking trails, much of them along a beautiful mountain stream, the preserve contains old growth forest, views of Hickory Nut Gorge, remnants of old cabins, and...

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Bradley Creek Trail, Squirrel Gap Trail, Poundingmill Trail, South Mills River Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Looking for a hike that includes streams and rivers, hardwood and conifer forests, plentiful rhododendron, and some climbing for good measure? Then the trails along South Mills River that embark from the Turkeypen Trailhead may be just the ticket. Situated in the southeastern corner of Pisgah National Forest, the Mills River Area is the largest in the Pisgah Ranger...

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Rumbling Bald Trails, Hickory Nut Gorge

Chimney Rock State Park is one of the newest in North Carolina. The state acquired the land from private ownership in 2007, and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy continues to obtain additional parcels in the Hickory Nut Gorge to eventually expand the state park. The Rumbling Bald section of the park is separate from the more famous namesake, Chimney Rock. Because...

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Looking Glass Rock Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Perhaps the most popular hike in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest, the Looking Glass Rock Trail is a good 3-mile leg stretcher to the top of the famous pluton. Probably not the most scenic hike is the area, but definitely popular because of ease of access, and a little less difficulty than some of the steeper monoliths. Looking Glass Rock is home to...

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Shortoff Mountain Trail, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Most of the attention in Linville Gorge is focused on the northern features. There are more trails, higher peaks, and family recreation areas. But the south gorge is every bit as compelling and beautiful, with spectacular panoramic views up the gorge and westward to Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shortoff Mountain is a thousand feet lower than its...

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Greybeard Trail, West Ridge Trail, and Big Piney Ridge Trail, Montreat

Montreat is a small community just north of Black Mountain, NC with a world renowned conference center, a college, and best for us, 20 miles of hiking trails that rival those in nearby Pisgah National Forest for quality and scenery. In particular, the Greybeard Trail is an exceptional workout that climbs more than 2300 feet to the summit of Greybeard Mountain on the Blue...

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Low Gap and Appalachian Trails to Mt. Cammerer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You don’t have to climb to 6000 feet to get spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. In fact, Mt. Cammerer has some of the best views in the national park, yet doesn’t even reach 5000 feet. You can see Snowbird Mountain and the Pigeon River Gorge to the east, and Mt. Sterling south, and the full expanse of the national park to the west. Mt. Cammerer was...

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Snowball Trail at Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway

Kind of an unusual name for the mountain this trail is named after, but it is at 5,200 feet, so the snow comes earlier in the season, and more frequently than in the valleys below. North of Asheville, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike is in the Craggy Gardens area. There are splendid views of the Great Craggy Mountains and the Black Mountains from the three summits...

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Patagonia Capilene 1 SW Stretch T-Shirt

As the hot season arrived, I thought I’d try some of the extremely lightweight hiking apparel available now. I’ve had a Patagonia sweater for 30 years that works and fits as good as new, so I thought I’d look at their offerings. Patagonia marked down a lot of their summer stuff for end-of-season, so I purchased their Capilene 1 SW Stretch T-Shirt....

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Hiking Mt. Sniktau from Loveland Pass

Perhaps one of the reasons you head for the Colorado Rockies is the wealth of national parks and monuments. Maybe you enjoy the amazing increase in distance from high altitude golf. If you are a hiker, perhaps you welcome the opportunity to climb one of Colorado’s famous fourteeners. If that’s the case then this hike up Clear Creek County’s 13,234 foot...

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Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon

I first visited Hanging Lake in 1982. I heard this summer that the federal government had designated the site a National Natural Landmark, so it piqued my curiosity to take a look again. Glenwood Canyon is a rugged and remarkably scenic place with tall red sandstone cliffs rising 1300 feet on both sides of the Colorado River. The trail up the canyon to the lake follows...

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Flat Laurel Creek Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Flat Laurel Creek is in the area just north of the Pisgah Ridge and in between the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses. It drains from Sam Knob and Little Sam Knob and runs to the West Fork of the Pigeon River. The trail that bears its name starts at the headwater and travels 3.7 miles around the west side of Little Sam until it meets Hwy. 215 and joins the...

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Missouri Lakes Trail, Holy Cross Wilderness

Missouri Lakes Basin in the Holy Cross Wilderness is one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado for hiking and camping that I have experienced. It is an area of lakes and streams filled with trout and large glacial boulders, surrounded by lush forest and tundra, and the gnarly cliffs of the Sawatch Range in the Holy Cross Wilderness. There is some of just about every...

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North Derby and Hooper Lake Trails, Flat Tops Wilderness

Flat Tops Wilderness is the second largest U.S. Wilderness Area in Colorado. Located near the towns of Yampa and Steamboat Springs, it is 235,214 acres, with 38,870 acres in Routt National Forest and 196,344 acres in White River National Forest. The area is named for a series of flat top mountains that dominate the landscape. This is sub-alpine and alpine terrain with...

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Chesler Park, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is in the southeastern corner of Utah, near Arches and Dead Horse Point. It is divided into four distinct districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon. The Needles District forms the southeast corner of Canyonlands and was named for the colorful spires of Cedar Mesa Sandstone that dominate the area. The district’s extensive...

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Old Butt Knob and Shining Creek Trails Loop, Shining Rock Wilderness

Perhaps it seems I’ve been spending quite a bit of time hiking in the eastern section of Shining Rock Wilderness in recent months. I can’t help myself. The terrain is wild, the forests ever-changing, the views exhilarating, and the exercise invigorating. The elevation changes dramatically — more than two thousand feet. The air is cool and refreshing...

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Auger Hole Trail, Foothills Trail, and Canebrake Trail, Gorges State Park

Gorges State Park was developed as a unique partnership of industry, the environmental community and the state of North Carolina. In 1999 more than 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation. The transaction created a 2,900-acre Gameland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, as well as...

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Big Green Trail, Panthertown, Nantahala National Forest

This is an extension of the trail report about the Panthertown Trail System in Nantahala National Forest from a previous post. When we explored Panthertown last November, we knew very little about it and kind of fumbled our way along the myriad of trails. Since, we have studied the trail system map and had a plan that included going to the top of Big Green Mountain, a...

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Greasy Cove Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness

Looking at a trail map or topographic map, the area of this hike within Shining Rock Wilderness can be somewhat confusing. There is the Greasy Cove Prong, a creek that runs off of the Grassy Cove Ridge. The trail is called Greasy Cove, but it starts/ends at Grassy Cove Top. I think the guys who named the area may have had a touch too much huckleberry wine. Regardless of...

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Montrail Mountain Masochist GTX

I’ve been wearing Asics, Saucony, and Mizuno running shoes to exercise walk for nearly a decade now. So I have become familiar with the comfort, support, cushioning and durability a quality shoe can add to my exercise routine. The last thing I want to think about when I’m exercising is my shoes. During hot summer hiking I would definitely tire of my hiking...

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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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