With plenty of mountains to hike, places to pitch a tent, trails to discover, and waves to surf, North Carolina is an explorer’s dream. If you’re looking for a way to awake your inner-explorer, or explore more, check out these twelve options below.
1. Hiking Grandfather's Profile.
Grandfather's profile is perhaps one of the most strenuous hikes in North Carolina (and not for the novice) . This 7-mile hike starts at a peaceful creek bed and leads you up to where the infamous Grandfather Mountain got its name. Large rock outcroppings and rare spruce-fir trees make for frame-worthy pictures. You'll want to periodically rest so bring your camera so you can snap some pictures!
2. Surf off the coast of Cape Hatteras.
The daring waves at Cape Hatteras attract hundreds of surfers each year.
3. Rock climbing at Whiteside Mountain.
If you want a real thrill, attempt to climb up Whiteside Mountain. If climbing isn't your cup of tea, you can take a 2.5 mile moderate trail to the top of Whiteside Mountain. A 700ft. cliff leads little to be desired.
4. Pitch a tent at Mount Pisgah.
At a whooping 5,000 ft. Mount Pisgah campground is one of the highest along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck or simply hike to find peaceful solitude.
5. Hike the first part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
When completed, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will span 900 miles from Clingman's Dome to the Outer Banks. For now, the trail is easily accessible from multiple points. One of the best being the Folk Art Center, mile marker 382.0 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hopping on here, you'll pass Craven Gap, Rattlesnake Lodge, and Craggy Gardens. While a long trail, if you get tired or if the weather gets too cold you can always turn around. This trail will be absolutely amazing when completed.
6. Spend the night by the sea.
For some different scenery pitch a tent right in the sand dunes at Ocracoke Campground. The campground is reachable by boat.
7. Conquer Linville Gorge.
For those seeking a true backpacking experience hike the strenuous (but well worth it) Linville Gorge. Pitch a tent along the trail at night and backpack the next day away!
8. Really, any waterfall
With over 200 waterfalls in Transylvania County alone, good luck taking your pick. My guide
9. Hike old Mitchell Trail and then be mesmerized by the view from the top.
This more difficult, hilly trail spans for 4 miles. Yet, you'll pass the historic Camp Alice, and witness the changing eco-system with each mile accomplished.
10. Kayak at High Rock Lake
High Rock Lake is a beloved destination of piedmonters in NC. It is amazing in the fall with the leaves in full color. Spend your morning hiking and your afternoon kayaking.
11. Take the whole family on a hike at Hickory Nut Gorge.
This vibrant hike takes you along diverse landscapes. Starting on cliffs along the gorge and leading to the breathtaking Hickory Nut Falls, this moderate 1.5 mile hike is safe and fun for the whole family.
12. Backpack the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail is the mecca for Eastern, U.S hiking. Spanning 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine, it offers some of the most gorgeous views in North Carolina. Points of interest along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina are Clingman's Dome, just a 0.5 mi. hike to the highest point of the Appalachian Trail. Lovers Leap Loop for a great family hike that is only 1.6 miles. Fontana Dam (pictured above), and Max Patch a 2.6 mi. hike that takes you to a grassy summit with 360 mountain views.
Where will you explore first? Tell us in the comments.