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Appalachian Trail: North Carolina Highlights
Apr 18, 2016
Getting ready to take on the Appalachian Trail? Whether you’re starting in Maine and ending in Georgia or are sticking to the North Carolina section, there’s plenty of “trail stuff” to check out in the Old North State. Let’s take a look at some of the North Carolina Appalachian Trail section’s best highlights:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The most-frequented national park in the United States, Great Smoky National Park is chock-full of beautiful views and ridgelines. The park also features a black bear population that unfortunately is endangered due to pollution and human carelessness. However, there’s plenty to explore and be inspired by here, including local fauna and flora, and majestic waterfalls. While small waterfalls are found at nearly every stream within the park, the large ones attract the most attention: Rainbow, Grotto, Laurel, and Abrams among others.
You won’t be lost for activities either, as fishing, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and historic building tours are just some of the things to do in this stunning national treasure. There’s also wildlife viewing, which includes elk, white-tailed deer, turkeys, and woodchucks in addition to the black bears.
A section of the famous trail that starts at the Nantahala River and ends in Georgia, the Nantahala Gorge is celebrated for featuring the best-graded high elevation trail in the South. In addition to enjoying breathtaking view after breathtaking view, the gorge also flanks the headwaters of the Little Tennessee, Nantahala, and Tallulah rivers.
A section of mountaintop that continues to inspire all who take it in, the trail to Max Patch starts in the town of Hot Springs, a longtime favorite rest spot for trail hikers. After taking to the waters, hikers follow the curvy, sometimes-dirt road that leads to the jaw-dropping Max Patch. This trail section also leads to the top of a 4,600-foot mountain that features views of the Great Smoky Mountains as well as Mount Mitchell. The latter is the highest peak on the Appalachian Trail and also the highest peak in eastern North America. Its total elevation is 6,699 feet above sea level.
If you do decide to hike to Max Patch, know you’ll enjoy 360-degree views you won’t soon forget.
Check out these and other North Carolina Appalachian Trail attractions! Remember to stay on trails and never, ever feed the wildlife. Also be sure to wear comfortable clothing and your best hiking boots, and to drink plenty of water. Have fun!