Carolina Mornings Spotlight: Top 3 Winter Hikes

Carolina Mornings Spotlight: Top 3 Winter Hikes
Winter is the perfect season for a vigorous hike! The crisp air, the frozen ground, the unincumbered long range views through the skeletal branches of our hardwoods - we look forward to it all year long, and it's finally arrived! With hundreds of hikes from which to choose, planning your weekend trek can be overwhelming. To help you get out and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us, we've highlighted our Top 3 Favorite Winter Hikes below!

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls is the type of hike that just never gets old. A moderate 1.5 mile hike leads you along a wooded path before ultimately emerging riverside. As soon as you can see the water, the roar of the falls will begin building anticipation. After another half mile, you'll emerge on a bridge that overlooks the 150 foot waterfall. A large, deep basin sits at its base and while it's far too cold in the winter to dip your toes in the clean, clear water, the sight is truly amazing to behold. The trail is well manicured and well travelled, and we find ourselves returning to this spot all year round. 
To get to this hike, head to Gorges State Park (about an hour and a half from Asheville, but worth the drive!). A large parking lot sits just outside of the trailhead, making this a very convenient spot for a family outing!
Trombatore Trail
Trombatore Trail was just established as a hike in late 2014, and we've quickly fallen in love with it. Not only is it just 19 miles from Downtown Asheville, it's a perfect 5 miles in length - great for a long afternoon in the beautiful outdoors! It is rather strenuous at it climbs an impressive 1,200 feet in elevation in just 2.5 miles, but it is well worth the effort. The summit - called Blue Ridge Pastures - is gorgeous. The grassy expanse is perfect for a winter picnic of hot soup in a thermos, and the photo opportunities are endless!
To get to this hike from Downtown Asheville, hop on I-240 East and continue on to 74-A East (toward Chimney Rock). Follow that road for 12.5 miles, then turn Right on Bearwallow Mountain Road and travel another 2.1 miles up to the top of the ridge. Park on the side of the road and look for the trailhead to the right of the Bearwallow Mountain Trail.

John Rock
John Rock is located in the Pisgah National Forest, and while we couldn't possibly pick a favorite hike, we do have deep affection for this one! A 5 mile loop trail, this hike has everything you would want out of a chilly afternoon day in the mountains. At the top, hikers will enjoy expansive mountain and valley views. From the smooth rock summit, a prime view of Looking Glass Rock is awarded. As an added bonus, this hike is really easy to get to - located just 38 miles from Downtown Asheville and just 10 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
To get to this hike from Downtown Asheville, take I-240 W to I-26 E, then take exit 40 for Highway 280. Take a right off of the exit and drive 16 miles toward Brevard. Just before arriving in the heart of Brevard, turn right onto US Highway 27 North to enter the Pisgah National Forest. Travel another 5.3 miles and then turn left at the sign for Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education/ State Fish Hatchery. You'll see the trailhead off of the parking lot!

Stay Local
Staying in a home away from home in Asheville will put you in the center of the action! After all, if you're exploring the mountains like a local, shouldn't you live like one too? Carolina Mornings has dozens of amazing vacation rentals in and around the Asheville area - each one unique. For a home located in Asheville, check out Carolina Roost. This family friendly 3 bedroom home offers prime access to the best attractions that WNC has to offer - like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Biltmore Estate! Best of all, Carolina Roost boasts a pet friendly policy, meaning that your four legged best friend can have the time of his or her life on those mountain trails!
To begin planning your mountain adventure, contact Carolina Mornings. A Professional Vacation Planner will help you line up your accommodations and your ticket to the Biltmore Estate (included with every Carolina Mornings reservation!). 
By: Dana Carrico

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