Tag Archives: hiking backpacking western North Carolina

September 17, 2018 Looking Glass Rock, Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

A Perfect Week of Hiking in the North Carolina Mountains

In Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   2 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Warm rain drums lightly on the lush deciduous forest around me as I walk up a long-abandoned dirt road that has narrowed to a trail with the gradual encroachment of vegetation. The wind assaults the treetops, the outer edge of a hurricane hitting the Southeast coast right now; but here, far from the storm, it sounds like waves rhythmically lapping up onto a beach and retreating. It’s a gray, early evening in mid-October in the basement of a compact valley in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina—a valley that, due to its tight contours, sees precious few hours of direct sunlight at this time of year—and the daylight has filtered down to a soft, dim, tranquil quality.

A bit more than a half-mile up this quiet footpath, I reach my destination—and unconsciously catch my breath at what must be one of the most lovely cascades in a corner of North Carolina spilling over with waterfalls. Continue reading →

August 6, 2018 Kayaking Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

10 Adventures to Put on Your Bucket List Now

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Do you have a “bucket list?” I’m not sure how many trips are on my list, which I’ve maintained for years, but I can tell you its word count: 18,712 words (including notes about each trip). And it keeps getting longer, even though I tick off new trips every year. Last year, to give a few examples, I trekked the majestic Tour du Mont Blanc with my family (see below), adventured in Costa Rica, and backpacked Utah’s Dark Canyon and Wyoming’s Wind River Range.

Looking for great ideas for your bucket list? (Who isn’t?) Well, you’ve clicked to the right place. I’ve assembled here 10 of the best adventures I’ve taken over nearly three decades as an outdoor writer and photographer—all of them trips that belong on every serious outdoor adventurer’s list—with information based on my personal experience, and links to stories at The Big Outside with many more images from and info about each one. Continue reading →

May 15, 2018 A backpacker near Park Creek Pass, North Cascades National Park, Washington.

5 Great Adventures You Can Still Pull Off in 2018

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

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 2018? Here are five backpacking trips that even slackers still have time to plan and execute this year. Four of them are in top-tier national parks for backpacking, and the fifth is a multi-day hike with national park-caliber mountain scenery. Continue reading →

October 23, 2017

10 Really Cool Outdoor Adventures With Kids

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Want to guarantee that your kids are always excited about getting outdoors as a family? Find adventures that excite them. We adults tend to look for nice scenery, but that, by itself, isn’t always going to fire up a school-age child or teenager. No matter what their age, kids want to engage with the outdoors—to get dirty and wet and climb around. By thinking a little more about trip planning, parents can find places and activities that inspire everyone scenically and experientially. Continue reading →

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, deep in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I haven’t seen another person all day. Solitude in the mountains exerts many effects, small and large, on us, including that we instinctively listen more attentively. Our rational minds cannot erase from primal memory the instinctive knowledge that, in the primitive brains of some woodland creatures, we represent a boatload of calories.

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

← Older posts

Like This Story? Get My Free Email Newsletter!

Enter your email for updates about new stories, expert tips, and gear reviews.


Grand Canyon Hiker