Day Hikes for Vacationers
from Danny Bernstein's Hiking the Carolina Mountains
Visiting the Carolina mountains or just moved here? Want to get started hiking in the area? Danny Bernstein suggests the following hikes from her new guidebook to get acquainted with the region. Mileages and ascents given are roundtrip, and several offer a moderate or challenging option.
If you have just one day in the Carolina mountains, try:
- Short hikes from US 276 (Chapter 6). The best introduction to the area is to drive in either direction on US 276, the spine of Pisgah National Forest's Pisgah District, stopping at the Forest Service Visitor Center, waterfalls, and historical landmarks. For a more challenging option, walk to Moore Cove Falls (1.3 miles/430 ft. ascent). Once on the Blue Ridge Parkway, go north to milepost 407.6 to climb Mt. Pisgah. If you have extra time, return south on the Parkway to view Looking Glass Rock from the overlook at milepost 417.
- Mt. Pisgah (Chapter 6) from Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 407.6. This is a 2.6 mile/750 ft. ascent hike to one of the most recognized high points of western North Carolina. Mt. Pisgah is the best first mountain to climb to orient yourself to regional landmarks.
If you have a weekend, consider one or two of the following:
- Camp Alice Loop (Chapter 1). This 4.5-mile/1,170 ft. ascent hike takes you to the highest mountain in the East through a spruce-fir forest with outstanding ridge views. You'll get to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, where you can stop for a snack and hot drink. Since the loop is completely in Mt. Mitchell State Park, the trail is impeccably maintained with sign boards at every junction.
- Mt. Mitchell (Chapter 1). For a challenging hike to the highest mountain in the east, walk the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from Mt. Mitchell Rd. to Black Mountain Campground. On this 11.4-mile shuttle hike, you'll have views, history, and see the forest change as you descend over 3,000 ft.
- Boogerman Trail (Chapter 8) in the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You'll cross streams and walk through old-growth trees saved by an eccentric landowner now long gone. (7.5 miles/1,150 ft. ascent)
- Shuckstack-Lakeshore Loop (Chapter 8). For a challenging hike (11.7 miles/3,010 ft. ascent) in the Fontana Lake area of the Smokies, walk the Appalachian Trail up to Shuckstack Tower with its outstanding views. On the return, you'll see old cars from the 1940s and other artifacts left behind by the people who lived in what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
For a week of day hikes, try several of these options:
- Dupont Five Falls Loop (Chapter 4). Moderate in difficulty but long, this hike offers gentle trails to outstanding waterfalls (11.2 miles/1,240 ft. ascent) in Dupont State Forest.
- Looking Glass Rock (Chapter 7). In Pisgah National Forest's Pisgah District, Looking Glass Rock is an icon, with great views from a rocky ledge. This is a moderate hike (6.2 miles/1,530 ft. ascent.)
- Shining Rock (Chapter 7). A challenging hike in the Shining Rock Wilderness which includes summiting three peaks over 6,000 ft. (10.7 miles/2,200 ft. ascent).
- Jones Gap Loop (Chapter 5) in upstate South Carolina. Walk up the Jones Gap Trail, a gentle and historic old road which parallels the Middle Saluda River. You'll return paralleling the base of a majestic rock face over 300 ft. high. Stop at Jones Gap Falls, a short detour off the Jones Gap Trail. (10.2 miles/2,250 ft. ascent).
- Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop (Chapter 9) in Nantahala National Forest. An easy 2-mile loop through huge poplar trees with wildflowers carpeting the forest floor.
- Naked Ground (Chapter 9). Starting at Joyce Kilmer, walk up Santeetlah Creek to Haoe Lead for a more challenging hike (10.5 miles/3,500 ft. ascent).
For further information or to arrange an interview with Danny Bernstein, please contact: Mary Ellen Hammond at Milestone Press 828-488-6601 / firstname.lastname@example.org