Big Creek Trail to Mouse Creek Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Exactly what the name implies, Big Creek in the Smokies is larger than some rivers in the area. Add in a 70° day after a couple snow events and Big Creek will really roar. When Big Creek roars, that brings out the kayakers, so there was even more of a show than just the scenery. Big Creek Trail is an old logging road that follows the creek westward beneath the...

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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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Tennessee Gulf Trail, Martha Sundquist State Forest

Surrounded on three sides by Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee’s Martha Sundquist State Forest is the only one in the state forest system with a dedicated hiking trail. The Tennessee Gulf Trail (named for a former owner of the property, Lambs Gulf Company) follows Brown Gap Creek from the northwestern to the southeastern corners of this 2,000 acre cove hardwood...

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Seniard Ridge Trail to Log Hollow Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Occasionally a nice easy stroll to a beautiful waterfall is just what the doctor ordered. I made this a three and a half mile loop, but you can actually get to the waterfall in a mile round trip. The woods off FR 475B in Pisgah National Forest are dense and filled with mountain streams running down from the Blue Ridge high above. One of these streams is Log Hollow...

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Lathrop Trail, Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

Located on the east side of the Island in the Sky District, Lathrop Canyon drops off the mesa to the White Rim, then dives all the way to the Colorado River. The Lathrop Trail enables a short, medium or long hike, depending on the level of the canyon you wish to tackle. The first couple miles are a sandy straight and level shot through prairie-like grassland. As you...

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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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Little Wild Horse Canyon, San Rafael Swell, Utah

The San Rafael Swell consists of a giant dome-shaped anticline of sandstone, shale, and limestone that houses many of the classic slot canyons that Southern Utah is known for. Included among them is Little Wild Horse Canyon, where the walls are so close you may have to turn sideways to get through. Spring and Fall are ideal times to hike here. The weather is usually dry,...

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Lick Wash, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Northeast of the Southern Utah town of Kanab, a surprise slot canyon called Lick Wash is located along Skutumpah Road. It’s 15 miles on twisty, dirty ranch road to get there, but the reward is well worth the adventure. This is the Paria-Escalante region of the national monument, beneath the Pink Cliffs. You will even find pink colored stones and pebbles in the...

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Bright Angel Point Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

Located on the very southern tip of the Kaibab Plateau, and the prime vista location for the North Rim of Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Point offers a bird’s-eye view of the meeting of Roaring Springs Canyon and Transept Canyon at the Bright Angel Fault. It is 4/10 mile from Grand Canyon Lodge to the point on a paved trail that offers several overlooks along the way....

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Pa’rus Trail, Zion National Park

The only trail in Zion National Park that is suitable for wheelchairs, allows your pets to join you, and is also bicycle friendly. Pa’rus is from a Paiute word meaning “bubbling, tumbling water.” Both Oak Creek and Pine Creek cross this paved pathway that winds along the Virgin River between the Visitor Center and Canyon Junction. Ideal for start of day...

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Park Avenue Trail, Arches National Park

Within Arches National Park you will discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you...

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Cat Gap & Butter Gap Trails to Grogan Creek Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Looking for an easy hike of less than five miles that will take you to several different waterfalls? Yes? Then this just might be the one for you. It starts on the ever popular Cat Gap Trail, passes two falls on Cedar Rock Creek and a whitewater cascade on John Branch before hopping on the Butter Gap Trail to follow Grogan Creek through Picklesimer Fields to the truly...

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Deep Creek Waterfalls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Deep Creek area in the Smokies, just north of Bryson City, NC, is a water wonderland. Creeks and branches descend through every nook down the surrounding mountains. The documentarian Ken Burns describes Deep Creek as one of his favorite places to visit in the national park. Three picturesque waterfalls are in close proximity to the campground, and hiking trails...

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Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway

June means catawba rhododendron at Craggy Gardens. Located northeast of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Craggy Gardens is loaded with the purple and maroon beauties. There are two short, easy trails near the Visitor Center that access mountaintops for spectacular vista views and bunches and bunches of rhodies. Craggy Pinnacle takes you above 5,800 feet for a view of...

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Kephart Prong Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Kephart Prong is one of the many water drainages that give the Smokies its character and provide refreshing nourishment for all the flora and fauna. Named for Horace Kephart, an author who was very instrumental in helping the Great Smoky Mountains achieve national park status, this scenic mountain stream is especially inviting during the spring greening season....

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Sycamore Cove Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Essentially a loop trail (the two ends are about 200 yards apart on Hwy 276), Sycamore Cove is a great hike for the entire family. It’s relatively easy, with only about 600 feet of elevation change, and it’s a delightful four-season hike that is a great way to start your day. The trail initially follows picturesque Starnes Branch amidst large hemlock and...

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Little Bradley Trail and Falls, Green River Game Lands

This hike is found in a remote corner of the Green River Game Lands near Saluda, NC that enables you to enjoy beautiful waterfalls. Little Bradley Trail follows Cove Creek along its path to an eventual meeting with Green River, but before it gets there, it tumbles over the three-tiered cascade at Little Bradley Falls. I happened to catch it a couple days after a...

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Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Purchase Knob is found on the far eastern flank of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Cataloochee Divide, north of Maggie Valley, NC. Near the summit and located at 4,850 feet, the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center is part of a network of what will be 32 centers supporting research and education about science in our national parks. The Purchase Knob...

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Island in the Sky Trails, Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands preserves a wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau in Southeastern Utah. Water and gravity, this land’s prime architects, cut flat layers of sedimentary rock into hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. At center stage are two canyons carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. Island in the Sky stands more than two...

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Pink Beds Loop, Pisgah National Forest

Peaceful. If I were to think of a single word to describe the Pink Beds Loop Trail, that would be it. Peaceful. Located in a high valley in the Cradle of Forestry, Pink Beds is surrounded by the tall mountains and lush woodlands of Pisgah National Forest. Home to rare mountain bogs, unique vegetation, and unusual wildlife, this area is ideal for those who like to explore...

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Moore Cove Trail and Falls, Pisgah National Forest

This short hike is family friendly, including even toddlers. The Moore Cove Trail leads you 0.7 mile to Moore Cove Falls, a 50-foot free-fall over a cave-like outcropping. As long as you’re careful, you can get in behind this waterfall and peer at the forest through the cascade. Hey, on a hot day it makes a great refreshing shower. In season, you may discover a...

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Foster Creek Conservation Easement, North Mills River

Sometimes even the most benign little trail can be filled with wondrous surprises. Nestled in a small valley between Bryson and Caney Mountains in North Mills River, North Carolina, and surrounded by Pisgah National Forest, the Foster Creek conservation easement and trail is just such a place. Barely a mile in length, and nearly flat, this four-season trail is ideal for...

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Mountains to Sea Trail to Fork Ridge, Middle Prong Wilderness

Back to Rough Butt Bald Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and another visit to the Mountains to Sea Trail. The MST follows, or remains close to the Parkway through much of Western North Carolina, so there are a number of easily accessible jumping off points that head into the backcountry. Middle Prong Wilderness was designated in 1984 and spans rugged high-elevation...

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Cat Gap Trail to Cedar Rock Falls and Long Branch, Pisgah National Forest

There is a series of waterfalls not far from the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and State Fish Hatchery on Forest Road 475. Collectively known as Cedar Rock Falls, they carry Cedar Rock Creek on its plunge down the mountain to Davidson River. Access to these falls and the wetlands beyond is via the Cat Gap Trail, a jumping off connector trail for many of the...

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Buckhorn Gap Trail to Twin Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Just southeast of the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest lies the Avery Creek area, a beautiful hardwood forest with plenty of water and a hidden pair of waterfalls known as Twin Falls. Access to the falls is via the Buckhorn Gap Trail, an easy to moderate track that first follows Avery Creek, then turns north alongside Henry Branch. The forest management work...

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Homestead Trail, Lake Powhatan, Pisgah National Forest

Located in the Bent Creek area west of Asheville, the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area is a suburban fun place for family activities including hiking, biking, fishing, swimming and jogging. Adjacent to the North Carolina Arboretum and part of the Bent Creek Research and Demonstration Forest in Pisgah National Forest, the recreation area contains several miles of trails...

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Whitewater Falls, Nantahala National Forest & Bearwallow Valley in Gorges State Park

Transylvania County, North Carolina is known as “Land of Waterfalls” for good reason, as there are 250 unique cascades within a short drive of each other. Upper Whitewater Falls on the Whitewater River south of Sapphire is perhaps the most spectacular. There are two distinct overlooks of the 411 foot plunge taken by the river on its path to Lake Jocassee....

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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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Slick Rock Falls, Cove Creek and Caney Bottom Trails, Pisgah National Forest

Another of the myriad of hikes along Forest Road 475 in Pisgah National Forest, this two-parter is near the Fish Hatchery and Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. First we took a short trip up Forest Road 475B to Slick Rock Falls, then hiked to the base of Looking Glass Rock. The climbers love this area and we encountered some when we reached the base. The main hike was...

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