Mini NC Adventure: Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge is definitely one of the most popular hikes around the Boone area of North Carolina, and after visiting, I can see why. There are few other hikes that are as short yet rewarding as this one. While the climb can be a bit treacherous, the views from the top are amazing.

The trailhead is located on the Grandfather Mountain section of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 302.8. There is a pretty decent sized parking lot at the trailhead, and both times I have gone, the parking lot didn’t fill up. But I can imagine that during the summer and fall, it would be hard to find a space.

The hike all the way to the top is just under a mile, but if you wanted a shorter hike, you could definitely stop at boardwalk that has been built about 1/3 of a mile up. The boardwalk was built to protect the fragile vegetation that grows on the rocks, and hikers are required to stay on the boardwalk. The summit is another 1/2 of a mile up, and the views just keep getting better and better. Along the way to the summit you will find a rock jutting out which is a famous spot for photos. Be careful on the rock though. While photos make it look a bit more daredevilish, there is still quite a drop to the ground if you were to slip and fall. After just a bit more hiking, you will reach the summit at 4,773 feet.

From the summit you can see views of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct, and miles and miles of beautiful mountain scenery. There is a cable to help you get to the highest rock as it is pretty steep, but you don’t want to miss the views from the top there. You feel like you are on top of the world. There are several rock outcroppings to sit and enjoy the views which would be perfect for a little picnic on a sunny day.

The hike is an in-and-out trail, so once you have soaked up all of the views, just turn around and go back down the way you came up. There are more trails that connect to this one and is part of the larger, 13 mile Tanawha Trail and Mountains-to-Sea trail.

I have only enjoyed this hike in the winter, I can imagine that the colors are spectacular in the fall while the leaves are changing or in the spring and summer when the mountains are full and green. I’d also love to go back for a sunset when I can imagine the sky lights up a beautiful shade of pink and ends the night with a fade to purple and blue. I will definitely be visiting Rough Ridge again in the near future.

After exploring this trail with my dog, I read that dogs are not actually allowed on this trail. Pets are prohibited to protect the fragile and vulnerable plant community and keep it in tact. So, I would not recommend bringing your fluffy friend along with you especially if you are planning to hike on a potentially busy day. No one actually said anything to me, but I had the feeling I might be doing something wrong when I realized that no one else had a dog on the trail, something that doesn’t often happen.

I strongly urge you to test this hike out if you have not already. You could not ask for better views for such a quick hike, and if mountains are what you love, this hike is for you.

 

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Mini NC Adventure: Upper Creek Falls

This spring break lead me to a wonderful new hike to another gorgeous waterfall in North Carolina. After two long months in Raleigh, I was ready to get outdoors, in the mountains, and surround myself with nature for a bit. After searching around the interwebs for some new hikes, I found this hike and immediately had the urge to go. The hike in and out wasn’t long and I can’t wait to go back in the summer and possibly swim in the smaller falls.

The falls are located in the Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181 near the small community of Jonas Ridge. I was driving to the falls from Pineola and found the trailhead on my left after driving for about 7.5 miles. You can see a Pisgah National Forest sign from the road, that leads you to a pretty decent size parking lot.

 

The hike was a loop hike, and you could choose to see the lower or the upper falls individually as well. I started with the upper falls, (although, for a less strenuous hike, I would recommend starting with the lower falls). The hike down to the upper falls was not too bad. Despite it being so close to the highway, I found that after a few minutes of hiking, you felt completely immersed in the Pisgah National Forest. The trail is full of rocks and roots, so be careful of your footing on your way down.

Once you have made it down to Upper Creek, you will find a wooden bridge that leads you down to creek. I wandered around for a bit trying to see what I could at the upper falls. To get across the creek you have to rock hop, but I found that the hop-able rocks were easy to get across. When you get to the other side you can walk out to the top of the falls and try to get a glimpse over the falls. I would not suggest getting too close to the edge, especially if the rocks are wet or you don’t feel sturdy on your own two feet. One slip, and the fall would be lethal. But the large open rocks would be perfect picnic spots on a sunny afternoon.

After crossing the creek, you will find a campsite with a trail leading you to the lower falls. There are a few other herd paths that lead you further up the creek, but it is obvious which one leads you to the bottom of the falls. There are several different herd paths that lead to the bottom of the falls, and after viewing several other photos from the falls, I’m not sure if I took the right one, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

After spending a few minutes chilling at the bottom of the falls, I hiked back up and out of the gorge. Again, you have to rock hop across the creek, but then its up, up, up to the parking lot. I am not the biggest fan of switchbacks, and found the hike out tiresome, but well worth the waterfall. As you hike back up to the parking lot, you will find a large boulder jutting out of the ground and it looked like climbers had already put anchors on the rock. If I could boulder, I definitely would have stopped here and had a little climb before finishing the hike out. You can also climb onto the top of the boulder from the back and find a slightly terrifying view of the creek below.

The hike was not too long, about 1.7 miles, and perfect for a warm afternoon. Since you’re hiking down a gorge to the waterfall there is a loss (then gain) of about 500 feet.  The majority hike consists of switchbacks so its not too steep, but your calfs will still be burning on the way up. I can’t wait to go back and visit in the summer months and hopefully take a dip in the upper falls.

Mini NC Adventures: Green Knob Overlook

There is something about moving away that makes you appreciate your hometown a little bit extra. It seems like every time I go home now, I make sure to take a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sometimes its just to enjoy a little drive time with the windows down, the music blaring, and an absolute masterpiece of mountains surrounding me.

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Sometimes I go to find comfy spots to set up my Eno hammock and read.

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Sometimes I see things from the road and think, “how can I get up there”. This particular blog post is dedicated to that exact feeling that I had while driving on this beautifully crafted piece of infrastructure. If your driving north to south along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will spot a little hut onto of a mountain around mile marker 350 (roughly 5 miles north of Mount Mitchell). I pulled over to the very next overlook and got out and looked around. It took a while to find the trail head as it doesn’t seem to be hiked very often. I had to walk north for like the length of a football field (100 yards roughly) and found a tiny little trailhead on the other side of the road.

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The hike was relatively short, but gained quite a bit of elevation. The whole hike consists of switchbacks so its not too steep, but its high up. Its probably like half a mile or so, but I’m sure you could look this up to figure out for sure. I would give it a 5/10 on the difficulty scale. A fit grandmother could probably hike it, and hiking boots aren’t required, but you will be sweating once you get to the top (especially if it is sunny).

 

The view from the top though is probably like a 9/10. It would have been a 10/10 if the outlook was unlocked, but unfortunately the highest I could go was the stairs. You are right on top of a mountain (probably more accurately a ridge) and you can see awesome view on both sides of the mountain. It was pretty windy, so I didn’t spend too long up there. There is something about being on a rickety staircase with the wind blowing me (and my camera) around that just isn’t very enticing to me. My camera also didn’t particularly like the high winds and the battery died relatively quickly as if saying “get me down from here”.

I would highly recommend this short little hike to anyone though. I want to try to do it again in the summer and see if the outlook is unlocked for people to go up into. I am assuming it was locked for the winter season, but I’m not too sure. Let me know if any of you have ever been on this hike, or have ever seen this overlook. Also, if anyone knows of any other overlooks off of the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, let me know! I want to check them out!

Alright. I think thats about it for this week. Only 21 more days until I leave for Europe! Get ready for some more travel blog posts! I hope you all have an amazing day, and rest of your weekend!

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

Mini NC Adventures: Roaring Creek Falls

As of recently, I’ve been really into getting to know the area that I live better. There is so much unexplored terrain in Mitchell and the surrounding counties of North Carolina. I’ve been home quite a lot in the past month (spring break, Easter break, and this past weekend) and therefore, I have been trying to dip my toes into the unexplored lands of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of my new favorite oasis is Roaring Creek Falls in Yancey County, NC. I went for the first time over Spring Break, then returned during Easter break with my mother. Okay, I’ll show you some pictures and then tell you all about the falls (or all that I know at least).

So, the falls are located in Yancey County, NC not too far from Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River). There is about a .5 mile walk to the base of the falls that is almost entirely on an old logging road (definitely Grandma-level “hiking”). I’d give it a 2/10 difficulty rating. To get to the top of the falls you will have to do a little climbing (definitely not Grandma-level hiking). I would give it a 7/10 difficulty rating, my dog and my mother both got up and down without too much difficulty. The view from the top and the bottom are both equally beautiful, but I definitely recommend seeing the falls (any falls you visit) from the top as well as the bottom. It changes your perspective of the falls, and just makes the whole experience more rewarding.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you live in WNC and haven’t seen these falls yet, I highly recommend that you make the trip to go see them. I encourage you all to try to get to know your city, town, region, a little better and go explore places you’ve never been to. I am sure that you won’t regret it.

I hope you are all having a wonderful day, and enjoying this crazy thing called life.

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

 

Mini NC Adventure || Roan Mountain: 04 January 2016

During winter break, I ventured up to Roan Mountain in the fresh fallen snow with my best friend. It was cold, windy, and insanely beautiful. Snow looks so much more magical up on Roan Mountain. I thought I would make this a short post and let the pictures speak for themselves. So, without further ado, here are some pictures of our adventures.

Thank you for enduring the mountain with me and for not complaining about the cold. Also, thanks for sharing my excitement about the snow and sharing my enjoyment of the winter wonderland of Roan Mountain. Love you Peyton!

I hope you all enjoyed this short little post. It wasn’t as long winded as many of my other ones, but I felt like this day needed a space on my blog. It was a special one.

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure!

Mini NC Adventures || Up on the Roan

Its no secret that the Appalachian mountains are one of my favorite places in the entire world. So, while I was home for Thanksgiving break, I had to get up on the top of one of those mountains. So, my sister, mother and I headed up to Roan Mountain, and I stood in Tennessee and North Carolina all at the same time. Two places at once! Aren’t I cool.

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It was a bit cloudy, but the haunting fog made me feel like I was on another planet.

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Its quite possible that my dog had a crazy fun time on the mountain.

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As I prepare for the four hour drive back down to Raleigh, I’m already looking forward to being back in my mountains in less than two weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back up to Roan Mountain, maybe when its sunny.

I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving holidays. Only a few more days until winter break! I think I’m going to try to do a post either everyday or every other day during December as my gift to you all. As I said though, I am going to try. It might be pretty hard with exams and everything, but I’ll do my best. Let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see on my blog!

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

Write About It Wednesday: Nature

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I’m getting good at the blog thing, aren’t I! This week, I wanted to take a chance to tell you guys a little about my summer, and one of the most incredible things that I have ever done. Since I don’t have access to internet in the summer, I couldn’t tell you then, but I didn’t quite know how to incorporate this story into my blog until I saw this picture. I thought, “Hey, this image would be incredible for a Write About It Wednesday, and for my summer story” and so I plopped it into my “Write About It Wednesday” board on Pinterest so I would remember this moment. So, on with the story.

As you may (or may not) know, I live in the mountains of North Carolina. I am surrounded by glorious mountains and I often take the incredible views for granted. Until a camping trip that I went on this summer. I never really considered myself to be a very outdoorsy person until this trip. Like, sure I liked to stroll in the woods sometimes, and have never been bothered by bugs, but I never really thought that camping was my thing. But, this summer at Camp Spring Creek, everything changed. A 3 day, 2 night camping trip had been planned for the senior campers. They would hike up a mountain, pitch tents, and hope that the trees would shield them from the rain. They would also filter their own water, poop in the woods, and drink every last drop of sump water (water used to clean out used dirty dishes) to leave no trace for wild animals (bears mainly) to follow.

Before the trip, we had our guide (Katey) come to camp and teach us how to properly camp before we hiked all the way up the mountain. As camp photographer, I sat through the training, and I am so glad I did. Katey made everything sound so interesting and I was suddenly super excited about the trip, even though I wasn’t going on it (at that point). I talked to Katey and my parents and decided that day that I was going to pack a bag and hike up the mountain with the campers. I have never been more happy with a decision in my life.

We hiked the Black Mountains, which are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Black Mountains are the highest mountains this side of the Mississippi River. All of the trails we hiked on were part of the Pisgah National Forest and the trails themselves are maintained by volunteers. This was not some “pull your camper into a paved spot” kind of camping. No, this was real “dig a hole and poop in the woods” kind of camping.

I won’t go through all of the details because frankly I could talk about this trip for hours on end, but I’ll do a quick run through and then include some pictures at the end. Our initial hike to our camp site was about 3 hours long, straight up a mountain. It was steep, and very strenuous with a roughly 30 pound pack on. There were a few absolutely breathtaking views, some funny commentary, and an abundance of encouraging words. And when we got to the top, a sigh of relief and immediate communication to get the tents set up before dark.

The next day, we unloaded our packs, and loaded them up again with empty water bottles. We hiked to a saddle in the mountain range called deep gap. We enjoyed a bit of lunch and nice soak in the high mountain sun. Then we split up into two groups, the water group who would take one for the team and fill all of the water bottles back up, and the summit group who aimed to keep hiking and summit Cattail Peak. I went with the water group and pumped a lot of water. When we had filled up about 50 1-liter water bottles, we threw all of them in our packs and hauled up many many pounds of water back to the campsite (1 liter of water is 2 pounds). Later that night, we defied the forces of rain and built a fire in a downpour by shielding the wood with our bodies. Lots of smoke blurred my vision for a little bit that night, but no worries, we were somewhat warm. Then we made dinner, hung out by the campfire, and learned a lot about each other.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early, packed up our tents and fit everything back into our packs. Then it was 2 hours back to the buses, and a lot easier hike than the way up. We actually had the energy to sing songs (mostly 500 Miles by the Proclaimers). All in all, this camping trip changed my life. It really did. I feel so much more in tune with nature now. Now my dream is to hike the entirety of the Appalachian trail. I don’t know who I will do it with yet (Bruce, are you reading this… hint hint), but its my plan.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have an amazing day! I’ll talk to you guys again soon!

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure! Boom!