Daniel Ridge Loop Trail, Pisgah National Forest

One of many trails found off Forest Road 475 in the Pisgah Ranger District near the State Fish Hatchery, Daniel Ridge Loop is a beautiful 5-miler that takes you near the headwaters of Davidson River. As you climb the ridge you’ll have views of the Looking Glass and Cedar Rock plutons on the south side, and drainage off four ridges into Davidson River on the north...

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Fletcher Creek and Middle Fork Trails, Pisgah National Forest

North Mills River Recreation Area in Pisgah National Forest, along with its brother at South Mills River, has a rich and varied trail system. Among them, Fletcher Creek is a typical streamside trail that passes an old beaver pond, thick forest of hardwood and hemlock, several grassy meadows and a number of log bridge crossings over Fletcher Creek, Spencer Branch and...

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Mountains to Sea Trail Over Green Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Quite frequently in winter, the Blue Ridge Parkway will be closed for snow and ice. Not great fun for those who wish to drive along the beautiful ridges. Ah — but it’s the perfect time for hikers to get out on the trails that parallel the Parkway — like the Mountains to Sea. Between Pigeon Gap and Bennett Gap at miles 412-414 the Mountains to Sea Trail...

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Ivestor Gap Trail and Fork Mountain Trail to Birdstand Mountain, Pisgah National Forest

The Black Balsam area of Pisgah National Forest is surrounded by Middle Prong Wilderness on the west, and Shining Rock Wilderness on the east. Some of the best hiking found in Western North Carolina lies in this high country just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the end of Black Balsam Road at milepost 420 on the Parkway, the Ivestor Gap Trail will take you deep into...

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Mountains to Sea Trail to Green Mountain Trail, Middle Prong Wilderness

Between mileposts 423 and 424 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Scenic Hwy 215 crosses at Beech Gap. If you head about 1/4 mile north on 215, the famous Mountains to Sea Trail crosses from the Black Balsam area into Middle Prong Wilderness. The MtS winds through an ever-changing forest that runs the gamut of evergreens found in the high country of Western North Carolina. Past...

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Cascade Falls, Little Bearwallow Falls, and Bearwallow Mountain, Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge runs from Bearwallow Mountain in the northwest to Lake Lure southeast. Included in its 10-mile length are majestic cliffs of granite, inspiring waterfalls and scenic wilderness that beckons to the explorer in you. Chimney Rock State Park, Florence Nature Preserve and Rumbling Bald all offer excellent hiking within the gorge. Up in the northwest corner...

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Burnt Mountain Trail, Little River Trail, Cedar Rock Trail, DuPont State Forest

Deep at the southern tip of DuPont State Forest is an area loved by mountain bikers, but also a nice place for scenic forest, riverside, and small mountain hiking. The elevation is in the 2800-3000 foot range, so it’s ideal for winter hiking where you’re not likely to get deep snow like the 6000′ peaks in the nearby national forest. Start with a lovely...

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Pilot Rock Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Pilot Rock is another of the granite plutons found in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. Not as spectacular as it’s more famous cousin, Looking Glass Rock, Pilot still offers remarkable views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and national forest, including the Cradle of Forestry National Historical Site. It’s a short mile climb of almost 700 feet...

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Wilson Creek Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Think of Wilson Creek as Linville Gorge lite. A long, rugged wilderness gorge running from the nearly 6000′ mountain peaks at its north, Wilson Creek shares many similarities with its bigger brother to the west. Wilson Creek was named a National Wild and Scenic River in August, 2000. The gorge area is a haven for recreation including hiking of course, but also fun...

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Harper Creek Falls, Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River, Pisgah National Forest

One of the highlights of the Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River area is Harper Creek Falls. Located in the Grandfather Mountain Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest, this three-tiered falls is a fun place to swim, slide and dive — but the rugged terrain makes for a difficult and dangerous access. The Harper Creek Trail is easy enough. With the exception of a...

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Cat Gap Trail to John Rock, Pisgah National Forest

The always popular Cat Gap Loop Trail is a jumping off point for many great hikes within the Davidson River area of Pisgah National Forest. Included among them is the picturesque John Rock, one of the area’s plutons that stand over the recreation area. With views of the Fish Hatchery, Looking Glass Rock, Pilot Mountain and the ridges that run to Graveyard Fields,...

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Bad Fork Trail, North Mills River, Pisgah National Forest

Another of the myriad of ridge and gap trails from North Mills River to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bad Fork Trail follows its namesake creek from Forest Road 5000 to Bent Creek Gap at mile 400 on the Parkway. This is a four mile round trip that can be extended by continuing on the Mountains to Sea Trail on the north side of the Parkway. Only moderately steep, this is a nice...

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North Slope Connector to Art Loeb Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Section 1 of the Art Loeb Trail is in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC overlooking the Davidson River Recreation Area. The North Slope Trail is a loop contained within the boundary created by the Art Loeb and the river. Between the two trails is a connector. Combining the two via the connector makes an 8-mile loop that takes in a large portion of the forest above...

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Mt. Pisgah, Pisgah National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway

Named after the Biblical mount where Moses first saw the Promised Land, Mt. Pisgah is the landmark that gave Pisgah National Forest its name. Located on the border of Buncombe and Haywood counties in NC, close to the point where Transylvania and Henderson meet them, the mountain is easily accessible via a hiking trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mt. Pisgah is topped...

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Summey Cove Trail to Courthouse Falls, Pisgah National Forest

Hidden deep in the woods between Courthouse Ridge and Brushy Ridge in western Pisgah National Forest, Courthouse Creek makes a dramatic plunge through a narrow chute into a natural amphitheater of bedrock, cascading 45 feet into a cold crisp pool. Courthouse Falls is one of the best kept secrets in the “Land of Waterfalls.” Beautiful for its solitude as well...

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Bracken Mountain Trail, Bracken Preserve, Brevard, NC

Bracken Mountain Preserve and Recreation Area is 395 acres of forested land owned by the town of Brevard in Transylvania County, NC. This municipal preserve is due west of downtown and adjacent to Pisgah National Forest and the Brevard Music Center. The town secured approval from the National Forest Service to build a connection with the established trail system, and to...

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Big East Fork Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness

The southeast corner of Shining Rock Wilderness is filled with rivers, creeks and streams tumbling down from the mountains that rise above 6000 feet in the high country. Included among these waterways is the East Fork of the Pigeon River, otherwise known as Big East Fork. A trail follows the river from Hwy 276 to the confluence with Greasy Cove Prong and beyond. This Big...

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Art Loeb Trail to Grassy Cove Top, Shining Rock Wilderness

Milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is where you will find Black Balsam Road. It’s a short drive to a spruce forest where the Art Loeb Trail crosses the road and heads up onto the balds. This is North Carolina high country. There are several mountains greater than 6000 feet with treeless summits, affording spectacular 360° views of the surrounding Blue...

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Case Camp Ridge Trail and North Face Trail, Pisgah National Forest

This is a two-part hike with a short drive on a forest service road in between. Both the Case Camp Ridge Trail and the North Face Trail start on Forest Road 475B in Pisgah National Forest. The first climbs 1000 feet in 1.7 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherry Gap at mile 416. It’s a short walk from the trail to the Cherry Cove Overlook and a close-up view of...

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Ramsey Cascades, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A spectacular waterfall isn’t the only highlight of the Ramsey Cascades Trail in the Greenbrier area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail to the cascade gains more than 2,000 feet as it follows rushing rivers and streams filled with moss-covered boulders for its four-mile length. The last couple miles pass through old-growth hardwood forest with giant...

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Spencer Branch and Trace Ridge on Coffee Pot Mountain, Pisgah National Forest

North Mills River Recreation Area in Pisgah National Forest, along with its brother at South Mills River, has a rich trail system. It covers the Pisgah Ridge at the Blue Ridge Parkway down to the North Mills River. A combination of trails leading from the Trace Ridge Trailhead at the recreation area go up, over, and around Coffee Pot Mountain on the way up to the...

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Turkey Knob and Blackrock Trails, Nantahala National Forest

Situated in the far northern reaches of the Panthertown Trail System in Nantahala National Forest, Turkey Knob and Blackrock Mountain offer long distance views of the more well known features of Panthertown Valley. From more than 4000 feet elevation, there are splendid views of Little and Big Green Mountains and The Great Wall. The full expanse of Mac’s Gap lays on...

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Stone Mountain and Wintergreen Falls, DuPont State Forest

Tucked away in the northeastern corner of DuPont State Forest in Western North Carolina, Stone Mountain is the highest point in the state forest at 3620 feet. Appropriately named for the exposed granite slab that traverses its summit, Stone Mountain offers a near 360° view of the surrounding terrain to winter hikers. Wintergreen Falls, though not as spectacular as...

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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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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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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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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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