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Florence Nature Preserve, Hickory Nut Gorge

Posted by on Nov 20, 2011 @ 4:03 pm in Forest Hikes, Hickory Nut Gorge, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 3 comments

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 several small waterfalls. Seasonally there are a variety of rare plants including yellow lady slipper. CMLC conducts regular ecological monitoring of the preserve, implements...

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

Posted by on Nov 2, 2011 @ 7:02 pm in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes | 2 comments

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 District, but also perhaps the least well known. Somewhat remote, this area ranges from 2400 feet elevation at the river level to well over 4000 on the mountaintops. The trails are...

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Rumbling Bald Trails, Hickory Nut Gorge

Posted by on Oct 23, 2011 @ 8:14 pm in Forest Hikes, Hickory Nut Gorge, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes | 3 comments

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 this park is new and still in the planning stage, trails are primitive, unnamed, and exciting. Maps are limited. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will eventually...

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Looking Glass Rock Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 @ 6:30 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 1 comment

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 peregrine falcons from spring to fall, and excellent multi-pitch and free-climbing year round. Hiking is also four seasonal, just be sure to watch out for slick ice on the...

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Shortoff Mountain Trail, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 @ 2:35 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 10 comments

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 more famous brethren to the north — Tablerock and Hawksbill — but it also offers unobstructed views of Lake James to the south. Hiking this trail is a sweet...

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

Posted by on Oct 2, 2011 @ 3:59 pm in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes | 8 comments

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 Ridge Escarpment where there are stunning views of Mt. Mitchell and its other 6000′ brethren. The trails are contained within private conservation land known as Boggs...

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

Posted by on Sep 26, 2011 @ 11:03 pm in Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Difficult Hikes, Tennessee, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

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 named for Arno B. Cammerer, who was director of the National Park Service from 1933-1940 and was instrumental in the Great Smoky Mountains becoming a national park. The stone and...

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Snowball Trail at Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Sep 14, 2011 @ 6:26 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Difficult Hikes, Rated Moderate Hikes | 12 comments

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 that are encountered along the trail. You cross Snowball Mountain, Hawkbill Rock, and Little Snowball Mountain along a trail that is roller coaster in nature, lots of up and...

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Hiking Mt. Sniktau from Loveland Pass

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 @ 8:33 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Difficult Hikes, Vista Hikes | 1 comment

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 Mt. Sniktau is an excellent warmup. The entire hike occurs above 12,000 feet. You will find out quickly if your lungs and legs are acclimated to the thin and dry air that...

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Hanging Lake, Glenwood Canyon

Posted by on Aug 24, 2011 @ 5:15 pm in Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 5 comments

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 Dead Horse Creek. Legend has it a gold miner was in the canyon searching for a new stake when he came upon a dead horse at a gulch where a creek fed the Colorado. He climbed...

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Flat Laurel Creek Trail, Pisgah National Forest

Posted by on Aug 21, 2011 @ 2:23 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes | 5 comments

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 Mountains to the Sea Trail. Most of the trail is an old railroad grade that was used in the early to mid 20th century. This hike occurred on Thursday, August 11, 2011 from 9:30am to...

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Missouri Lakes Trail, Holy Cross Wilderness

Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 @ 6:09 pm in Best Hike, Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Holy Cross Wilderness, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 6 comments

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 type of scenery for all hikers to enjoy. The trailhead starts at 10,050 feet and climbs gradually to nearly 12,000 in four miles. This is a popular area as you can imagine, so...

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North Derby and Hooper Lake Trails, Flat Tops Wilderness

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 @ 8:51 pm in Colorado, Flat Tops Wilderness, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 6 comments

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 beautiful mountain ponds and lakes, rich evergreen forest, grassy marshes, and craggy tundra. The elevation ranges from 7,600 to 13,000 feet. There are 160 miles of trails in...

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Chesler Park, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Posted by on Jul 16, 2011 @ 11:35 pm in Best Hike, Canyonlands National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Easy Hikes, Utah, Vista Hikes | 4 comments

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 trail system provides many opportunities for long day hikes and overnight trips. Chesler Park is a scenic expanse of desert grasses and shrubs surrounded by colorful sandstone...

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

Posted by on Jul 9, 2011 @ 11:03 pm in Best Hike, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Shining Rock Wilderness, Vista Hikes | 24 comments

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 even during the summer. It’s enjoyable to follow the wildflower progression from bluets and trillium to catawba rhododendron, to mountain laurel and flame azalea, then...

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

Posted by on Jul 2, 2011 @ 11:11 am in Forest Hikes, Gorges State Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes | 5 comments

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 nearly 7,500 acres that has been designated as Gorges State Park. Because the park is so new, it is still in a planning and development phase. The roads and infrastructure...

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Big Green Trail, Panthertown, Nantahala National Forest

Posted by on Jun 25, 2011 @ 7:20 pm in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes | 2 comments

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 sight we missed before. This hike occurred on Friday, June 24, 2011 beginning at 10:00AM and ending about 2:45PM. Our plan was to start at the Cold Mountain Gap entrance and...

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Greasy Cove Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness

Posted by on Jun 17, 2011 @ 8:41 pm in Blue Ridge Parkway, Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes, Shining Rock Wilderness | 13 comments

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 the befuddling names, the hike has a bit of everything for hiking enthusiasts. There are sections of hardwood forest, a couple creek and river crossings, a steady climb...

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Ivestor Gap and Art Loeb Trails to The Narrows, Shining Rock Wilderness

Posted by on Jun 5, 2011 @ 7:55 pm in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Shining Rock Wilderness | 3 comments

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 known as the Shining Rock Ledge. The Ivestor Gap Trail avoids having to cross up and over Grassy Cove Top, Flower Gap, and Flower Knob. Ivestor Gap reattaches with Art Loeb at...

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Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

Posted by on May 30, 2011 @ 5:10 pm in Best Hike, Bryce Canyon National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Moderate Hikes, Utah, Vista Hikes | 2 comments

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 Bryce Canyon. Located at the far northern tip of the park, most of the tourists blow right past Fairyland on their quest for car accessible Bryce overlooks. So Fairyland is a...

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Rock Jock and Conley Cove Trails, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Posted by on May 28, 2011 @ 8:08 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Water Hikes | 0 comments

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 popular area has the unique distinction of having both a vista trail and a gorge trail. Before heading down, down, down into the gorge, the Rock Jock Trail enables hikers to...

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Chestnut Branch and Big Creek Trails, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by on May 26, 2011 @ 3:23 pm in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Water Hikes | 7 comments

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 well. Mt. Cammerer and Mt. Sterling are popular hikes with splendid views, but on this day my brother and I wanted to do some creek hiking. This hike occurred on May 18, 2011...

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Hawksbill and Tablerock Mountains, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Posted by on May 24, 2011 @ 7:14 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina, Rated Moderate Hikes, Vista Hikes | 7 comments

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 trails on the east rim, but the biggest attraction is the mountains. It is fully 2000 feet from these mountaintops to the Linville River below. Hawksbill and Tablerock Mountains...

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Longs Peak Trail to Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted by on May 8, 2011 @ 1:46 pm in Best Hike, Colorado, Hiking, Hiking Blog, Rated Difficult Hikes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Vista Hikes | 0 comments

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 half the trail to Chasm Lake is above treeline in the alpine tundra, so the views are long and the vistas grand. That also means the hike to Chasm Lake is exposed, so...

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Pulliam Creek Trail to Green River Narrows, Green River Game Lands

Posted by on May 4, 2011 @ 2:33 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Water Hikes | 2 comments

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, known as one of the best runs in all of the Southeast. There is a kayak race held there in November every year. Hikers can enjoy this wild and crazy stretch as well, where the...

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Babel Tower Trail, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Posted by on May 1, 2011 @ 2:32 pm in Hiking, Hiking Blog, Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina, Rated Difficult Hikes, Water Hikes | 4 comments

Babel Tower Trail, Linville Gorge Wilderness

Explorer William Linville and his sons were scalped by Indians in 1766 in what would eventually become known as Linville Gorge. I do believe I’d be fine with going through life not having anything named for me. The Linville Gorge Wilderness in Burke County, NC was one of the first protected areas in the country under the Wilderness Act of 1964. I’ve enjoyed this rugged country a number of times now. The west rim of the gorge is known for its steep descents down to Linville River, while the east rim is a series of spectacular...

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Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted by on Apr 27, 2011 @ 7:22 pm in Best Hike, Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Rated Easy Hikes, Vista Hikes | 7 comments

Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway

Frequently. That is how many times I have done this hike. So many, I’ve lost count. I love the western North Carolina high country, and this area along the Blue Ridge Parkway known as Black Balsam has nearly a dozen peaks over 5,800 feet elevation, with Black Balsam Knob being the highest at 6,214. This area has some of the highest hiking on the Parkway. Many of these mountains are what are called balds, because they do not have trees on their tops, not because they are above treeline. There has been a series of fires in this area, the...

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Coontree Loop to Bennett Gap, Pisgah National Forest

Posted by on Apr 24, 2011 @ 4:16 pm in Forest Hikes, Hiking, Hiking Blog, North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest, Rated Moderate Hikes | 2 comments

Coontree Loop to Bennett Gap, Pisgah National Forest

Coontree is a popular picnic area for familes along Davidson River in Pisgah National Forest, NC. What most of them probably don’t know though, is that there is a nice hiking trail just across Hwy. 276 from the parking area. It is very easy to get to, as it is only five miles from the crossroads in Brevard, NC. The trail itself is a loop with a connector at the top to the Bennett Gap Trail where there are terrific views of the surrounding mountains and plutons. The western half of the loop follows Coontree Creek and crosses it several...

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