So often people think of the west as a hiking mecca. When really, some of the best hiking in the country is located in North Carolina. With four national forests (Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie, Croatan) the Great Smokey Mountains (the most popular national park in the USA) and the Appalachian Trail running through it, it is hard to beat. North Carolina has Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak on the East Coast, and the Linville Gorge which is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East. If you are just a beginning hiker or an experienced one, North Carolina has something for you.
Yes, everyone has done the hanging rock hike, it is a short there and back hike normally crowded with people. However, the hike I am talking about is called Moore’s Wall Knob. It is a nice 4.4-mile loop hike that can be done in all seasons. If you are looking for more of a challenge then start the loop going counter-clockwise. Going this way you will encounter a steep and quick incline with a lot of stairs. If you are looking for an easier route then start the trail going clockwise. If you choose this way you will still get warm going up the mountain. When you reach the top you will see a sign for an observation tower. From the tower, you will be able to see neighboring Pilot Mountain and the Piedmont.
This trail is a great 1.66-mile there and back trail. Even though this trail is only .8 miles one direction it is all uphill until you reach the top. This trail is great because when you reach the top you will have spectacular views of Linville Gorge. This hike it is still accessible by other roads besides the Blue Ridge Parkway (often closed in any sort of wintry weather). I like day hiking with my backpacking stove so I can make hot cocoa at the top and enjoy the view. There are many other great hikes right around the area if you are looking to hike more than just 1.66 miles.
This hike is a great easy/moderate hike. It is a 5.2-mile hike one-way road to road, or a 10.4 mile there and back. If 10.4 miles seems daunting for a day hike, then cut it short, you will still have a lot of amazing sights to see. Though the scenery is beautiful in the park, this trail is really cool because of the number of historical sites along the path. Little Cataloochee was an offshoot of Big Cataloochee, a community settled in the early 1800’s. Neither community is inhabited anymore. You will see restored homesteads, graveyards and chapels. I highly recommend walking in and around all of them. After you have finished this hike, you should head on down to the valley, depending on when you visit you have a good chance of seeing the elk.
If you wish you can just hike up to Black Balsam Knob. It is just one mile up the trail. However, my favorite day hike was 9 miles. We started on the 101 at the parking area heading North for 4.5 miles to shining rock gap. We then took a right and headed back south on the Art Loeb Trail for 4.5 miles back to the parking area. On this hike you will hike in well-covered areas as well as a beautiful grassy bald ridge. If you are hiking in any season besides summer, definitely bring layers because the temperature changes dramatically in different areas of this hike.
There are many different trails that can be connected to make a loop hike here. There are also many different parking areas with access to different trailheads. To access the loop I did you need to park on Breedlove Road. I did a nice 7.6-mile hike starting on Panthertown Valley Trail-Macs Gap - Little Green-Devil’s Elbow- Riding Ford-Black Rock. This hike has it all! Along Blackrock Trail you will have an amazing overlook that is a great spot to sit and have lunch or just take a break. When you are on Little Green you will come to School House Falls- a beautiful Waterfall that cascades into a great swimming hole! If you are hiking in the summer, it is a great place to take a dip to cool off! Keep walking and you will come to another great overlook with the largest granite face in the Valley- Tranquility Point. This is rightfully named, as it is a very peaceful place to stop and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.
Some trails are familiar, like a pair of cushioned slippers formed to your feet. Each turn is comforting and warm, as known as the pages of your favorite book. Some trails are rocky and wild, proving to you with every mile both the thrill of nature and your own limitations. For different experience levels, locations, time constraints and moods, there are likely to be a variety of trails near you that meet your needs. With some helpful resources and considerations, finding the perfect hiking trail is easy.
From hiking dog jealousy to estimating the calorie-to-weight ratio of entire grocery stores, outdoor adventurers have unique experiences all around.
Here are just a few to make you laugh, paired with watercolor interpretations of outdoorsy absurdity.
My first pair of sturdy, quality hiking boots changed my outdoor experience. Before them, I tumbled around awkwardly in slippery, ill-fitting, non-breathable (and somehow also non-waterproof) boots, coming away from hikes happy but covered in scrapes, bruises, and favoring tender limbs. My arches would ache, and eventually, the dull pain would spread to my leg joints. Then I bought “my blue boots.” The most significant outdoor purchase I had ever made, I was unconvinced that they would be worth it. Now, without a doubt in my mind, I can say they were absolutely worth the price.
|Small||4 - 6.5||2 - 4.5||35 - 37||20.5 - 23|
7 - 9.5
|5 - 7.5||38 - 40||23.5 - 25.5|
|8 - 10.5||41 - 45||26 - 28.5|
13.5 - 15
|11 - 13.5||46 - 49||29 - 31|
|Small||N/A||N/A||N/A||20.5 - 23|
6 - 8.5
|5.5 - 8||39 - 41||23.5 - 25.5|
|8.5 - 11||42 - 44||26 - 28.5|
12 - 14.5
|11.5 - 14||45 - 47||29 - 31|
|WOMEN'S||FITS SIZES||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||2 - 4||Length: 26"||Width: 15 ¾"|
|Medium||6 - 8||Length: 26 ½"||Width: 16 ½"|
|Large||8 - 10||Length: 27 ⅛ "||Width: 17 ½"|
|X-Large||10 - 14||Length: 27 ¾"||Width: 18 ½"|
|2X-Large||14 - 18||Length: 28 ⅜"||Width: 19 ½|
|MEN'S / UNISEX||CHEST TO FIT||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||34 - 37||Length: 28"||Width: 18"|
38 - 41
|Length: 29"||Width: 20"|
42 - 45
|Length: 30"||Width: 22"|
46 - 49
|Length: 31"||Width: 24"|
|2X-Large||50 - 53||Length: 32"||Width: 26"|