It’s no wonder that hiking clubs abound in Western North Carolina. This region provides a gloriously varied landscape to those who enjoy heading out for a day, or maybe a week, heading down trails that range from tame to downright strenuous.
Western North Carolina is hands down the most sought after hiking grounds for those in the know. For one thing, the 2,184 mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail graces this part of the state, and the Blue Ridge and the Smoky Mountains are an equal draw.
But there are so many other wonders—dramatic 360- degree views, fir forests, the bursting beauty of the natural growing Catawba rhododendrons, sheer rock faces and other geological features that stop you in your tracks before you reach the crest of a summit. Some seek the waterfalls of western North Carolina, loving nothing more than a hike in spring with one thing in mind– feeling the cool spray of a majestic waterfall.
There are many great resources online to assist your excursions. Be sure not to forget to pack sunscreen, water, snacks, and of course your camera.
The Blue Ridge Hiking Club is an informal group of hiking enthusiasts who love meeting new friends while enjoying the outdoors of north-western North Carolina. They welcome residents who live in Carolina mountain homes as well as visitors. Hikes of all levels, all year long through the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Mountains-to-Sea trail, the Appalachian Trail, Linville Gorge, Roan Mountain (Tennessee), and the Virginia Creeper Trail (Virginia) for $10 a year, two hikes weekly.
The Monday hikes are easier than the Wednesday and Saturday hikes. Just show up at the trail head on Monday morning at 9:30. “We always have fun – no matter the weather, and we invite you to join us!” Upcoming hikes:
- Wednesday, April 25 – Watauga Dam via AT. (Carter/Johnson Co., TN)–7 miles, 4+ hrs. Rated moderate. Contact Carol Ann Mitchell at 423-772-4280, text 423 957-1207.
- Saturday, April 28–Price Lake plus Boone Fork–approximately 7 miles; 4 hours; moderate to strenuous. Contact Roger Bodo–828-260-2019.
- Monday, April 30–Trout Lake to Rich Mountain: 5 miles or less; relaxed pace.
- Wednesday, May 2–Wildflower Crawl on the Lower Profile Trail; moderate–about a mile round trip. Contact Susan Moore at 828-733-5748.
- Saturday, May 5–Hawksbill Mountain: Moderate to strenuous 1.8 miles, with 670 ft. elevation gain; approximately 2 hrs. Contact Bob Heath–828-773-0471.
- Monday, May 7–Price Lake plus; 5 miles or less. Wednesday,
- May 9–Mountains-to-Sea Trail; about 5 miles; contact Pam Hoffman, 828-262-9779.
- Saturday, May 12–Appalachian Trail from US 321 to Watauga Dam; about 7 miles, 4 plus hrs; rated moderate; contact Carol Ann Mitchell–423-772-4280, text 423-9957-1207.
- Monday, May 14–Green Knob Trail; 9. 5 miles or less, relaxed pace.
- Wednesday, May 16– Laurel Fork Falls Hike; approximately 5 miles; moderate; contact Sheryl McNair at 443-360-9933.
- Saturday, May 19–Table Rock and Crest Trail, 2 mi; moderately strenuous hiking; Mountains To Sea trail approximately 4-5 mi. Contact Skip Rackmill–828-355-9303.
- Monday, May 21–Old John’s River Road to Price Lake–9. 5 miles or less, relaxed pace.
- Wednesday, May 23– Hughes Gap to Roan High Knob on the AT–10 miles; moderate; contact Carol Ann Mitchell at 423-772-4280, text 423 957-1207.
- Saturday, May 26–Story Teller Rock and Flat Rock; 5 mi., some parts strenuous and rocky; contact Bob Heath–828-773-0471.
- Monday, May 28–Flat Top Observation Tower + Cone Memorial; 1. 5 miles or less, relaxed pace.
- Wednesday, May 30– Glen Burney: Annie Cannon Gardens parking lot on Laurel Lane in Blowing Rock; 3.2 miles; contact Sherrey Murray at 828-737-0248.
There are many opportunities to get involved with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Pacolet Area Conservancy—whether you want to volunteer, donate, or take on a hiking challenge. For $35 dollars a year, there are plenty of hikes and activities throughout the month! This organization has “deep roots and strong histories of preserving lands, joined together to build a larger community of advocates to further our common missions to protect and conserve natural resources in our burgeoning region for generations to come.”
Some upcoming hikes to usher in spring:
- Friday, April 27, Craven Gap; 8:30-4; enjoy the scenery of WNC with your friends and family!
- Monday, April 30, 9:30-1:30; celebrate Earth Day with a hike!
- Friday, May 11, 8:30-4; the spectacular Lone Ridge of Pinnacle Mountain.
- Saturday, June 30; 10:30-12; the first Tails and Trails with your four-legged friends!
Pisgah Hikers is a private hiking club with a number of hikes of various levels each week. These hikes are free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Please Note that effective May 9 Pisgah Hikers returns to the “Summer Schedule” with hikes starting at 8:30 and updates will be issued every Tuesday morning before the Wednesday hike. Upcoming hikes to get your blood pumping:
Friday Easy Hikers; hikes are generally 3 miles, 3 hours long with no more than about 300 feet of climb. We meet every Friday at the BiLo Assembly Area in the parking lot in June 9:15 AM departure; emails every Thursday to members of this group with weather forecast and hike description.
Spring 2018 Schedule:
- April 27– Arboretum along Bent Creek
- May 4— Carl Sandburg Hse
- May 11–Pisgah Inn for Breakfast E38B. (8:15amDeparture)
- May 18– Holmes State Park
- May 25–Pink Beds via Barnett Branch
- June 1— Daniel Ridge
- June 8–Cradle of Forestry E14C
- June 15–Pisgah Ridge E35H
- June 22–Cove Creek
- June 29–Corn Shoals in Dupon
The Monday Rollers’ hikes are in the medium range of difficulty. Regular departure time and place: the Lowe’s Assembly area in the Lowe’s parking by US64. Please be there by 8:50 am; contact Maggie DiRocco 862-4618.
- April 30–to be announced.
- May 7–M21A; John Rock; 700 feet; 4.5 miles; R5;$1.50.
•May 14–M14B; Pink Beds; Long Loop; 500’; 5.5 miles; R5; $2.50.
• May 21; M66B; Upper Whitewater Falls; 900’; 5 miles; R6; $5.50; starting at Bad Creek parking lot.
- May 28; Memorial Day; M80A; Wintergreen Falls; 450’; 4.5 miles; R3; $2; starting from the Sky Valley Parking area.
- June 4; M16A; Promontory Stump; 300’; 5 miles; R3; $3.
- June 11; M81G; 3 Lakes Trail in DuPont State Forest; est.300’; est.4.5miles; R3;$2.
- June 18;M23A; Daniel Creek/Lanning Ridge; 900’; 5 miles; R6 $2.
- June 25; M38C; Buck Springs Lodge Loop; 300; 3.5 miles; R2; $3.50.
The Monday Milers is a companion hiking group but slightly more challenging than the “Monday Rollers” with an average moving pace of 2 to 2.5 mph and distances of 4 – 8 miles with moderate elevation changes. Regular departure time and place: Lowe’s Home Center near US 64—9 am; arrive by 8:45. Contact Richard Mayberry; 828-884-4398 (h) 704-236-4398.
The Monday Milers Spring Schedule:
- April 30—Bearwallow Mountain/Trambore Trail; 5 miles estimated, 800’ climb estimated, R6, car fee: $4.
•May 7—Flat Laurel Creek/Big Slam Loop; 4.5 miles, 900’ climb, R5, car fee: $5.
•May 14—Cat Gap Loop/John Rock; 6.6 miles, 1,200’ climb, R7, $2.
• May 21—Pisgah Ridge/Skinny Dip Falls via Graveyard ;4.6 miles, 500’ climb, R4, $4.50; shuttle, start at the intersection of 816 and the BRP.
- May 28—Black Balsam/Tennant Mountain; 5 miles, 700’ climb, R6, $5; start at Big Sam parking.
- June 4–Hike with “Rollers”
- June 11— Hike with “Rollers”
- June 18— Hike with “Rollers”
- June 25—Mountains to Sea, Green Knob Trail; 6 miles, 700’ climb, R5, $5.
Wednesdays Striders: a faster pace and with less stops than the Monday Pisgah hikes. Hikes range from 5 to 8 miles. We have three different assembly areas depending upon the location of the hike—St. Philips Church parking lot, BiLo, and the Cedar Rock Community Center. Contact: Jay Hinze–828-553-6533 or Craig Smith–240-416-5971.
Wednesday Striders Spring 2018 Schedule:
- April 25–Jones Gap – Rainbow Falls; 5 mi, 1300’cl, R5, $5; meet at Cedar Mountain; $5 for park admission.
- May 2–Pisgah Ridge – Graveyard Fields Upper Falls; 5 mi, 900’ cl, R5, $4; meet at BiLo; from the junction of FS816 and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- May 9–Pilot Mountain; 5 mi, 1900’cl, R8, $3; meet at BiLo.
- May 16–Bearwallow Mountain; 5 mi, 1700’cl, R10, $7; meet at BiLo or Ingles I26 & US64.
•May 23–Panthertown Waterfalls; 8 mi, 1500’, R8, $6; meet St. Philips.
• May 30–23 feature hike – East Loop; 6 mi, 1300’cl, R8, $4; meet at BiLo;16- feature hike starts from the Big Sam parking lot at the end of FS816.
The Friday Hoofer hikes are the longest and most strenuous of the five groups. Contact Jay Hinze 828-553-6533 or Vince Castello–828-458-4489.
Friday Hoofer Hikes Spring Schedule:
- April 27– Flat Creek Falls Panthertown; 8 mi, 1440’cl, R5, $5; meet at Catheys Creek Road.
• May 4–Bennett Cove/Big East Fork; 8 mi, 1800’ cl, R8, $3; meet at BiLo.
• May 11–Buckeye Gap – Haywood Gap; 9 mi, 1600’ cl, R8, $5.50; meet at Catheys Creek Road.
• May 18–Buck Spring – Pisgah Inn; 12 mi, 1500’ cl, R7, $2.50;meet at BiLo.
• May 25–Avery Creek – Buckhorn Gap Loop; 10 mi, 2000’, R9, $1; meet at BiLo.
Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
“SAHC conserves unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland, scenic beauty, and places for people to enjoy outdoor recreation in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.” There are many ways to be involved with SAHC whether you enjoy lacing up your hiking boots or you long to help preserve the hiking trails in Western North Carolina.
Hikes and Outings almost every day for $40 a year:
- April 25—April Wildflower Wednesday—11 am-3.
- April 29—Golden-winged Warblers!At Yellow Mountain State Natural Area, NC;6:30 am-3:30 pm–$100.
- May 3—2018 Leave No Trace Tainer Course; Highlands of Roan; 10 am; May 4 at 3 pm.
- May 30—2018 May Wildflower Wednesday; 11 am-3 pm
- June 8—2018 Roan Highlands Birding Hike; 9 am-12 pm; Highlands of Roan
- June 9—2018 June Jamboree—Free Highlands of Roan
- June 27—2018 June Wildflower Wednesday; 11 am-3 pm
The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club is nearly 100 years old and has over 600 members who are “hikers and outdoors enthusiasts who love the Smokies and the mountains of East Tennessee.” There are weekly hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as other gorgeous nearby areas, and membership fees are only $20 a year. For those of you who have settled into your Carolina mountain homes and find you’d like to contribute to the community, SMHC appreciates volunteers to help maintain trails and shelters.
Upcoming SMHC Outings and Events:
- April 28—Sat; Little Cataloochee
- April 28-29—Sat & Sun; New Backpacker Orientation
- May 5—Sat; Appalachian Trail Work Trip
- May 6—Sunday; Big South Fork; Grand Gap Loop and Angel Falls Overlook
- May 10—Thurs; Ten Mile Greenway
- May 12—Sat; Spence Field/Russell Field Loop
- May 16—Wed; Ace Gap and Beard Cane
- May 19—Sat; Kanati Fork/Thomas Divide/ Newton Bald
- May 19-20—Sat & Sun—Welch Ridge/Cold Springs Backpack
- May 20—Sun—Kuwahi Scar Off-Trail
- May 23—Wed—Rich Mountain Loop; Indian Grave Gap and Crooked Arm Trails
- May 26—Sat—Ace Gap
- May 28—Mon—Memorial Day; Cataloochee Divide Trail to PurchaseKnob
Mountains to Sea Trail is an essential organization for folks who care about our hiking trails in Western North Carolina. For $35 a year you can support this 1,175 mile trail that allows hikers to cover the state and “is as diverse as North Carolina. Along the trail, you may see mountain vistas, rolling Piedmont farms, picture postcard colonial towns, weathered tobacco barns, old textile villages, country churches, rushing mountain streams, coastal swamps, hardwood and pine forests, lighthouses, sand dunes, miles of seashore, and friendly people.” Some of the ways to get involved from the comfort of your Carolina mountain homes—join the friends, attend an event, share your photos, keep up-to-date with the newsletter, purchase a MST license plate, or volunteer.
Upcoming events to support the trail:
- April 27—Fri—2:30; Trail Grand Opening at Guilford County Farm
- April 28—Sat—Intermediate Trail Maintenance at Rockingham Community College
- May 5—Sat—Eno River Section Annual Picnic at Fews Ford area, Eno River State Park
- May 12—Sat—Upper Haw River Section Workday
- June 5—Sat—Eno River Section Annual Picnic
- June 12—Sat– Upper Haw River Section Workday
Friends of the Smokies was begun in 1993, and with hard work and devoted members and volunteers, more than $53 million has been raised to fund worthy projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—historic preservation, wildlife management, environmental education among them. If you don’t yet know about this amazing park, it spans more than 800 square miles of Western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, and is where you are sure to find some of the most cherished views from mountaintops, as well as the wildlife we adore. Find out for yourself by getting involved and have an incredible outdoor adventure while making life-long friends.
Upcoming Spring Hikes and events:
- May 2—Pint Night at Bearden Beer Market
- May 8—Classic Hike of the Smokies—Ramsey Cascades
- June 11—Classic Hike of the Smokies: Cades of Cove Overnight Experience
- June 12–Classic Hike of the Smokies: Cades of Cove Overnight Experience
- June 19—Friends Day at Frugal Backpacker
It’s no secret to the folks who appreciate hiking trails in Western North Carolina that The Coves Mountain River Club delivers 13 miles of groomed hiking and horse trails. This is just one of the many perks that draw people in search of Carolina mountain homes to The Coves.
The Coves’ location is perfect, providing variation in elevation, with 3,600 acres ranging from 1,040 to 1,700 for our active residents to strut their stuff… and all without leaving home! There are trails that suit a leisurely stroll by a magnificent waterfall, and challenging climbs to work your quads. If you adore waterfalls of Western North Carolina, there are four dramatic waterfalls throughout these trails; it’s a hard act to follow! Here’s a glimpse at what awaits you at The Coves:
Switchback Trail – 3.5 miles of trail over several streams, ending along Mila Cascading Falls.
Spine Trail – 3.5 miles of pasture trail over streams abutting a fishing pond and wildlife viewing area.
Winding River Trail – 2 miles of trails along the Johns River, past Coves River Park, the community gardens and stables and ending at Coleton’s Swimming Hole.
Magnolia Trail – 1.5 miles of trail up to 100ft overlooking river, winding into the serene woods and ending at Coleton’s Swimming Hole.
Tranquility Vineyard Trail – a 1 mile trail into the woods along several small streams ending in the vineyard.
Little Waterfall Trail – a .75 mile trail from Table View Lane, meandering past several waterfalls and into Waterfall Trail.
Cedar Cove Trail – a .5 mile trail from the Waterfall Trail to the lovely community gardens and stables.
Waterfall Trail – a .5 mile trail down to Waterfall Park and into the community gardens for residents who just can’t get enough of the waterfalls of Western North Carolina.
Hawks Nest Trail – a .5 mile trail down from Waterfall Lane by a spring fed stream, into the Waterfall Trail and back to the community gardens and stable.
Lace up your hiking boots and then come explore the variety of hikes that bring fitness, relaxation and good old-fashioned outdoor adventure in our mountain community.
Call us at 828.754.0700 to schedule a tour and a hike!