Tag Archives: hiking backpacking western North Carolina

September 18, 2017 Noland Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C.

In the Garden of Eden: Backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Late-afternoon sunlight tilts golden beams through the low canopy of spruce and fir trees as I hike alone up the Welch Ridge Trail, at around 5,000 feet deep in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven’t seen another person since I hit the trail early this morning. Solitude in the mountains exerts many effects, small and large, on us; but one is that we instinctively listen more attentively. Our rational minds cannot erase from their primal memory cards the instinctive knowledge that, in the primitive brains of some woodland creatures, we are nothing more than a boatload of calories.

I stop abruptly in the trail and stand perfectly still—listening intently, waiting. And then I hear it. Continue reading →

September 10, 2017 The view from Devils Courthouse, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

Photo Gallery: Exploring North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains

In Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

Spanning Georgia to Pennsylvania, the Blue Ridge Mountains reach their apex in a rumpled carpet of forested mountains sprawling across western North Carolina. Scores of peaks over 5,000 and 6,000 feet—the highest east of the Mississippi—host craggy summits, hundreds of beautiful waterfalls, and more plant species than any other park in the country.

And, by the way, some of the nicest hiking in America. Continue reading →

August 28, 2017 Crabtree Falls, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina.

The 12 Best Dayhikes Along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway

In Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

I’m a hiking snob—I admit it. I want all of the hiking trips I take to feature five-star scenery. And for years, I’ve done most of my dayhiking and backpacking in the American West, with its vast wildernesses and infinite vistas, so I’m a little spoiled. But a weeklong trip to the mountains of western North Carolina last fall upended my snobbery. Exploring the highest peaks east of the Mississippi, I discovered one of America’s richest stashes of stunning waterfalls and most biologically diverse forests, enough ruggedness to inspire a sense of climbing “real” mountains—and some pretty darn big vistas, too.

After considerable field research, I present to you this list of a dozen hikes along North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway, ranging in length from very short and easy to a multi-summit ramble to the crown of the East’s highest summit (which I rank among America’s Best Hard Dayhikes). Continue reading →

July 23, 2017 Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail to Mount Mitchell, N.C.

Roof of the East: Hiking North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell

In Hiking   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

At 6,327-foot Celo Knob, on North Carolina’s Black Mountain Crest Trail, I stand in bright sunshine and a chilly October wind gusting to 50 mph, staring at the long ridge stretching for miles ahead of me. It’s both stunning and daunting. Several more summits that top 6,000 feet, and others nearly that high, form a forested, earthen rollercoaster, culminating at 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. There are a few ways one can climb to the roof of the East. I’ve chosen the longest, hardest, and most scenic. Continue reading →

5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off in 2017

May 15, 2017  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments
Ramona Falls, along the Timberline Trail around Oregon's Mount Hood.

Ramona Falls, along the Timberline Trail around Oregon’s Mount Hood.

By Michael Lanza

So you didn’t plan far enough in advance to reserve a permit for backpacking this summer in Yosemite, Grand Teton, Glacier, or another popular national park, eh? So, now what? Where will you take a big outdoor adventure in 2017? Here are five backpacking trips that even slackers still have time to plan and execute this year. Three of them are in top-tier national parks, and the other two are multi-day hikes with national park-caliber mountain scenery. Continue reading →

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