Friday, April 17, 2009


1. Gorges State Park: New parking and trails open in May for much better access to rugged river gorges. Hike along the Horsepasture River to see several waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls.
2. Mt. Mitchell: After enjoying the 360-degree vistas from the new observation deck atop the highest peak east of the Rockies, head to the Deep Gap Trail and hike over four more peaks over 6,000 feet.
3. Craggy Gardens: The Blue Ridge Parkway reopens here in May after more than a year of repairs. The Craggy Gardens Trail takes you across a rhododendron bald, and a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to Craggy Pinnacle offers breathtaking panoramic views.
4. Point Lookout Trail: This new 3.6-mile paved greenway climbs 900 feet in elevation in the Pisgah National Forest. Bike or hike from Old Fort and enjoy great views along the way.
5. Dupont State Forest: The best waterfall hike is a three mile trail to three waterfalls, including the impressive 150-foot High Falls with great places for wading, swimming and waterside picnics.
6. Max Patch: Hike the loop around the summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail to enjoy breathtaking views from this bald mountaintop.
7. Cold Mountain: This famous mountain offers a strenuous 10.6-mile roundtrip hike to its summit through the wilderness area of the Pisgah National Forest. The hike includes a 2,800 foot altitude gain to the 6,030-foot peak.
8. Graveyard Fields: This highland hike features beautiful views in a mile-high valley filled with wildflowers and surrounded by 6,000-foot peaks. With an easy four mile hike, you see two nice waterfalls.
9. Black Balsam Knob: Hike across more spectacular mountain balds. These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest offer sweeping views and alpine-like appearance. Hike three miles without dropping back into the trees.
10. Urban Trail: If you are looking for an urban hike, walk the 1.7-mile journey that showcases the art and history of Asheville, with 30 downtown stops, each with public sculpture.

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