Featured HIKING TRAILS
In the 521,000 acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Noland Divide Trail descends steeply through a sub-alpine spruce-fir forest with rosebay rhododendrons, flame azaleas, mountain laurel thickets, and stands of white pine. Following the crest of a razorback ridge, it runs along the divide that separates the drainages of Deep and Noland Creeks and is best hiked in a day from north to south, ending at Deep Creek Campground.
West of Greensboro near Connelly Springs, the 13,000 acre South Mountains State Park is located in the heart of the rugged South Mountains. The park includes elevations up to 3,000 feet, a waterfall dropping 80 feet and more than 40 miles of hiking trails.
Near Franklin in the Nantahala National Forest, this 22 mile loop runs rhododendron-shrouded ridgetops and follows a 16 mile section of the Appalachian Trail above 4,000 feet. The hiking trailhead is located 14 miles west of Franklin on US64. The loop combines Lower Trail Ridge, Long Branch Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
East of Murphy and northeast of Hayesville in the Nantahala National Forest, the Fires Creek Rim Trail is a 25 mile hiking loop around lushly forested 16,000 acre Fire Creek Wildlife (managed black bear habitat). The blue blazed trail is overgrown and difficult to follow as it passes through dense rhododendron and hardwood forests. There are black bear and russian boar roaming the area.
Southeast of New Bern and Havelock in the Croatan National Forest, the 22 mile Neusiok Trail travels from a cypress-lined, sandy beach on the Neuse River to beautiful estuaries of the Newport River, where live oaks are sculpted by the wind. Along the way, the trail meanders through bottomland hardwoods, pine savannas and forests.Keep an eye out for venus fly traps and alligators.
West of Troy, the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail winds 21 miles over the Piedmont range ridgeline through hardwood and pine forest. The Uwharrie National Recreation Trail offers a variety of scenery, streams and rocky climbs. The trail can be hiked in long or short sections, as the trail crosses several access points. The trail is marked with white blazes.
Northwest of Troy in the Uwharrie National Forest, the Badin Lake Hiking Trail is a 5.6 mile route. The Badin Lake Hiking Trail is a loop trail that follows the shore of Badin Lake for half its distance, then loops back through hardwood forest to Cove Boat Ramp. A short loop of 2.5-miles can be hiked, as well as the entire 5.6 miles. The trail was constructed by the Youth Conservation Corps in 1979 and 1980.
East of Dillingham in the Pisgah National Forest, the Laurel Gap Trail is a 7 mile route that follows a gated road over Big Andy and Walker Ridges with nice vistas. There are several side trails including Staire Creek Trail, Walker Creek Trail and Elk Pen Trail. This multi-use route is also open to mountain biking and horseback riding.
Near Blowing Rock, the 4,200 acre Julian Price Memorial Park has several trails worth exploriing. The trails run through acres of rolling, forested hills, lakes, streams, and meadows. The elevations within the park range from 3,400 ft to 4,000 feet.
Near Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest, the Panthertown Valley has 30 miles of hiking trails over 6,700 acres. It is known as the Yosemite of the East due to the number of granite domes and waterfalls.
Near Blowing Rock, the 3,500 acre Moses Cone Memorial Park has 27 miles of carriage trails open to hiking and horseback riding. The most popular route is the 20 mile Craftsman Trail loop.