Carolina Mornings Spotlight: Favorite Area Hikes
Hickory Nut Gorge:
This 6.2 mile out and back trail sits at 927 feet and is rated moderate. Hikers can expect to see beautiful native flora and fauna all along the trail. To access this trail from Black Mountain, head southeast on Montreat Road toward E State Street. Merge onto NC-9 S and continue on this road for about 15 miles before turning Left onto Shumont Road. The trail head will be located on your right.
Briar Bottom Trail:
A short 1.2 mile trail, Briar Bottom follows the South Toe River upstream. Hikers will pass though hemlock groves before crossing rustic bridges built from the forest’s yellow locust trees. Expect an easy hike with plenty of bird sightings. To get to this hike from Downtown Burnsville, travel East on US 19E to Highway 80 South. Travel 11.6 miles on 80 South, passing the Mt. Mitchell Golf Course, then turn right on Forest Service Road 472. The road will turn to gravel before arriving at an intersection - take a right at this intersection. Follow the road until you reach a parking lot where you will see a bulletin board with trail maps and area information.
A 5 mile round trip hike, Jack Branch Trail is a moderate to difficult trail that rewards hikers with stunning views of both Hot Springs and the French Broad River. Climbing 2900 feet, Jack Branch is worth every bit of exertion as the valley views from the top are some of the best in the area. To access this trail from downtown Hot Springs, travel East on 25/70 across the French Broad River Bridge. Make a left at River Road and continue on until Murray Branch Road. The trail head is situated off of the parking lot at Murray Branch Picnic Area. Hikers are welcome and encouraged to take advantage of the amenities offered by the park.
Sam's Gap to Hog Back Ridge Shelter is a moderate 4 mile out and back hike in Mars Hill. The trail, though only lightly used, is quite easy to follow and the views along the way are lovely. Hog Back Ridge Shelter is a fantastic place for a picnic, so hikers should plan on packing a lunch to enjoy at the half way point. To access this trail from Downtown Mars Hill, head East on Cascade St toward N Main St before continuing onto NC-213 E. Travel a mile, then turn right onto the I-26W ramp. Continue on the interstate for 7.3 miles, then take exit 3 toward US 23A/Wolf Laurel. Turn right off of the exit ramp onto US-23 ALT A. After a brief .1 miles, turn left and continue onto Flag Pond Rd. The trailhead will be about 400 ft ahead.
Carolina Mornings has over 100 rentals in and around the Asheville area. Each cabin is as unique and beautiful as the next. Larger groups will love Dreams of Pisgah - a stunning 5,000 square foot home located on 18 fenced in acres. A certified Green home with floor to ceiling windows, Dreams of Pisgah is the perfect space for a gathering of friends and loved ones. The Home Theater Room is a truly awesome feature and kids will go nuts over the outdoor playground!
By: Dana Carrico