north carolina

June 20, 2019

Asheville’s Best Mountain Biking Isn’t Where You Might Think

A cyclist makes their way through thick, green brush on a mountain bike with a blue sky in the background

Asheville’s best flow trail is hidden under three feet of tall grass and briars. That’s what I decide as I ride Alexander Mountain Bike Park, pedaling through patches of thick brush that lead to a few hundred yards of butter-smooth trail before succumbing to more grass and thorns. It’s frustrating, slow-paced riding because of the […]

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May 20, 2019

Hellbender Denied Listing as Endangered Species, but Still in Peril

Natural habitat for the hellbender salamander: The cold mountain streams in the Appalachian Range.

The eastern hellbender is not a cute animal. It’s typically a shade of dull brown, with small eyes and folds of loose skin running down the sides of its body. Sometimes it has patches or spots along its slimy back. And while most salamanders top out at several inches long, the eastern hellbender can grow […]

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April 18, 2019

The South Beyond 6,000 is the Southeast’s Toughest Hiking Challenge

Hikers traverse a high-alpine field under stormy skies

Rebecca Trittipoe remembers crawling on her belly under a dense slope of rhododendron and thorns, desperately trying to move a few feet closer to the top of the mountain. The sun wasn’t up yet, and her GPS wasn’t working so she wasn’t sure exactly where she and her two running partners were, but she knew […]

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March 2, 2019

Put a Hike to This North Carolina Lookout Tower on Your List

A view of blue skies and mountains in the distance from Rich Mountain Lookout Tower

One of Pisgah National Forest’s historic fire lookout towers has been restored to its former glory. Rich Mountain Lookout Tower, near Hot Springs, North Carolina, was built in 1932 and was used to detect fires in North Carolina and Tennessee for more than 60 years. But the tower fell into disrepair after regular use was […]

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February 13, 2019

Updates Planned for Mountain Bike Trails in North Carolina’s Pisgah Ranger District

A mountain biker swoops through Pisgah National Forest.

In the coming year, three the of the most popular mountain biking trails in the Pisgah Ranger District—Avery Creek, Buckwheat Knob and Black Mountain—will receive some much-needed maintenance. Pisgah Area SORBA (Southern Off Road Biking Association) will devote $190,000 to maintaining and rerouting several of the region’s most beloved trails with funds from the Recreational […]

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January 24, 2019

Top Picks for North Carolina Fall & Winter Camping

Hikers trudge by a wooden structure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the autumn leaves all around

North Carolina offers an incredibly diverse portfolio of terrain, stretching from the sand dunes that flank the Atlantic Ocean, through the rolling Piedmont and up to the jagged peaks that form the state’s western border with Tennessee. Some of the tallest mountains on the East Coast are tucked in there. So is one of the […]

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December 17, 2018

On Little White Oak Mountain, A Would-Be Neighborhood is Now a Public Park

The Polk County Recreation Complex with Little White Oak Mountain in the background

A mountain once slated for development is now being turned into a public park. The town of Columbus, North Carolina, originally approved the construction of 687 homes on a 1,068-acre parcel on the south side of Little White Oak Mountain, 40 miles southeast of Asheville, near Lake Lure. The development stalled after the economic slump […]

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December 12, 2018

Missing Link in the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Completed

Beautiful mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the morning light

A key eight-mile section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) was recently completed, offering backpackers a 350-mile-long trail experience in and near North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is the Tarheel State’s longest trail, spanning 1,175 miles from the state’s mountainous western border to the Atlantic Ocean. The trail boasts some of […]

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October 2, 2018

Headwaters State Forest Is Open to Hikers

A waterfall in Headwaters State Forest

In September, the state Forest Service cut the ribbon on Headwaters State Forest, opening to the public a 6,730-acre tract of mountains and streams along the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The land had been owned by former congressman Charles Taylor, and local and national land conservancies worked for nearly a decade to bring the forest […]

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