THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN NORTH CAROLINA
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a hiking trail located in the Eastern part of the US. Popularly called the Appalachian Trail and even the A.T., the hiking-only trail, which is the biggest of its kind in the world, stretches across 2,184 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. A very scenic place, the Trail is a popular attraction that draws in millions from all over the country, and even from different parts of the world.
Initially started as an idea in 1921, the A.T. was completed in 1937, and passes through fourteen different states between Georgia and Maine, going mainly through wild or forest lands, but also through farms, roads and towns. It remains managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
North Carolina is one of the 14 states through which the Appalachian Trail passes, and needless to say, it is something that makes a very memorable and scenic spectacle, as many visitors say. 95.7 miles of the A.T. runs in North Carolina, while another 224.7 miles runs along the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. The A.T. stretch in North Carolina, which goes to the High Country, gives hikers access to some of the highest mountains (many of which cross 6,000 feet), as well as some of the most inaccessible country areas in the state.
Besides being scenic, the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina is also very safe for hiking, which is the premier activity for this area. Visitors can also pursue other activities, such as mountain climbing, camping, and observing the nature. There are also many area-specific activities that one can pursue, from taking a dip in the hot springs in Hot Springs, to skiing in the Roan Highlands in winter, among others.
The A.T. in North Carolina is home to several campsites and hostels for travelers. While the warming huts are generally free and safe, they have very basic facilities. Hostels and hotels are always equipped with electricity and running water, and are present all along the trail. Resorts that offer food and lodging (at a price) are also present throughout the Trail, as are Tree-house Cabins which exist alongside all of the rest.
As already mentioned, hiking is the main activity in the Appalachian Trail. North Carolina is home to several trail clubs and A.T. communities which are dedicated to helping people find their way and get the best out of their trip.
North Carolina’s part of the A.T. has several interesting hiking trails. The following are some of the more prominent trails.
Located along the NC-Tennessee border, the Roan Highlands, which lies close to Bakersville, is well-known throughout the world for its Catawba Rhododendrons. It is a 4.4 mile day hike, or a 13.2 mile trail should one choose to traverse the range. Roan Highlands has many natural balds, which make for some of the most breathtaking views. One can visit this place during the mid-to-late June period to see the Rhododendrons in full bloom, or can visit during the winters to go cross-country skiing.
Great Smoky Mountains traverse
Located near the Fontana Dam, this 72-mile-long route is indeed North Carolina’s biggest Appalachian Trail hike. Completing this traverse takes about 6-7 days. Though it is the most challenging hiking trail, it has a beautiful ridge that offers spectacular from the hikes various peaks. The traverse is also home to Clingman’s Dome, which, standing at 6,643 feet, is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail.
Carvers Gap-to-US 19E
Located near Burnsville, this 14 mile-long popular section traverses goes through several popular and scenic areas such as the Hump, Mountain and Yellow Mountain, as well as the Roan Mountain’s eastern areas. Though relatively shorter than many, this nonetheless constitutes quite the tough hike, and can prove to be very challenging for the amateurs and the inexperienced.
Max Patch Bald
A beautiful place all year round, the Max Patch Bald is a 1.7-mile round trip which starts at the parking lot of NC SR 1182, and offers some of the most breathtaking views in the entire trail. It is also located near Hot Springs, so you can try going for a dip in the springs once you’re done hiking.
Max Patch Bald during the winter