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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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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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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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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Art Loeb Trail to Pilot Mountain, Pisgah National Forest

Pilot Mountain stands 5084 feet above the western edge of Pisgah National Forest, near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Looking Glass Rock. There are three ways to get to its summit, but the one I enjoy most is the section of the Art Loeb Trail from Gloucester Gap along Forest Road 475. It isn’t particularly long, but it is quite strenuous. You will get your exercise...

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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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Vineyard Gap and Riverside Trails, Pisgah National Forest

The Riverside Trail along the South Fork of Mills River in Pisgah National Forest is a great opportunity for boys to be boys, and girls to laugh at them, as the trail fords the river several times. You’ll get to wade in a crisp, cool mountain stream up to your knees as you negotiate the current and the smooth, slippery rocks on the bed. Enjoy the peaceful sounds of...

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Triple Falls, High Falls, Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest

With so much interest in The Hunger Games movie, I thought it was time to head out to DuPont State Forest for a dawn hike to Triple Falls, one of the scenes in the film. Triple Falls is a tiered cascade on the Little River that drops 120 dramatic feet and was also featured in the Last of the Mohicans movie. A photo of Triple Falls was used by the Friends of the Falls...

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Chattooga River Trail, Nantahala National Forest

Designated a National Wild and Scenic River, the Chattooga River’s headwaters are in North Carolina, but it stretches into Georgia and South Carolina as well. In fact, at one point known as Ellicott Rock, it marks the common tri-boundary of all three states. There are more than 50 miles of trails along the Chattooga River but this four-mile stretch just south of...

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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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Mountains to Sea Trail Over Rough Butt Bald, Blue Ridge Parkway

The Mountains to Sea Trail spans the width of North Carolina, running from the Great Smoky Mountains in the west, to the Outer Banks of Coastal Carolina. Much of the trail in the mountainous part of the state is near or parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway. This section of the MST along the parkway has been designated a National Recreation Trail. With elevations well above...

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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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Bridal Veil Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, Lake Imaging, DuPont State Forest

Transylvania County, NC is known as the “Land of Waterfalls,” and for good reason. There are more than 250 waterfalls in the county, with many of the most spectacular falls in the heart of DuPont State Forest. Included among those are Bridal Veil and Grassy Creek Falls, both classic slide waterfalls that carve their way over large granite slabs. DuPont also...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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