February 7, 2008

Favorite Hikes in WNC

One would think that, living in Asheville with the Blue Ridge Mountains at our back door, all of us locals would be out hiking every weekend. While I can’t speak for every local, it does seem to me that the longer you live in an area the harder it is to get out and enjoy everything it has to offer. We all get bogged down in the every day life of work, dinner, chores… and before you know it, it’s time for bed. Weekends are no better, with the constant flow of housework and errands… or the desire to just sit around on your heehaw because you’ve spent all week in the daily grind.

So, while many people might be better at getting out and about, I certainly don’t manage to hike as much as I would like. Still, after 5 years living in WNC I’ve managed to find two hikes that I love so much, it has become difficult to branch out and try others. Both are easy driving distance from Asheville and are easy-moderate hiking, but they have some very distinct differences.

Hike #1
Craggy Pinnacle

360-degree view
Nice foliage on path
Good for de-stressing
Romantic date setting

This hike is located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from Asheville. It is short, and somewhat steep, but has beautiful trees, rhododendron, and several views along the way. Once you reach the pinnacle at the top, there’s an amazing, full 360 degree view. There are benches and other sitting spots as well to relax and enjoy the beautiful photo ops. It has always been a good pick-me-up for me when life is stressful, but it’s also one of my favorite date spots. This is a nice place to go with a picnic (small enough to pack into a day size bag, anyway). Keep in mind that the wind is almost always heavy up at the pinnacle and it can be much cooler than the starting point below.

Craggy Gardens and the Visitor’s Center are nearby spots worth stopping for if you are going to Craggy Pinnacle. Craggy Gardens is pretty, too - a good-sized grassy area, views, picnic tables and another small trail. Bathrooms are also located at this stop. This is a good place to picnic before or after a hike up to the pinnacle, especially if you don’t want to hike with your food.

Hike #2

DuPont State Forest

Three Waterfalls
Access to river and falls
Swimming/Wading in Summer
Several different trail options

This falls hike offers three - count them, THREE - waterfalls in one. Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls are located together on a easy, riverside trail (exception: to get the top of high falls is a more vigorous upward hike, away from the riverside). You can spend an entire day checking out the different trails - one of the fun things about this area is that the hike is customizable. Visitors have the option of staying on mostly flat land to see Hooker and Triple Falls, going down a steep - and sometimes slippery - trail to the bottom of High Falls, and heading upwards to the top of High Falls. Although this hike is REALLY popular and therefore always crowded, I’ve never minded. The hike is best in the fall for leaf colors, but is also super fun in the summer, when guests can wade into the river and play in the falls!

For more great WNC hikes, photos, directions, and other great information, visit Hike WNC.

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