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North Carolina



Trail Mix: South

Experience the best the south has to offer: a shoreline hike in Florida, stargazing in North Carolina, and spelunking in Kentucky.

Grand Traverses: Roan Highlands

Gorge on views that don't quit on a high stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

Local Hikes in the East

Paddle an Outer Banks island, hit a new trail in Tennessee, stargaze in Pennsylvania, and grab nine more adventures.

Top 3: Better in Winter

What off season? Bundle up and reap the benefits of colder weather in these snowy playgrounds.

Smokies Adventure Guide (2012 National Parks Series: Part 5 of 6)

Leave it to our seasoned map contributors to find solitude in America's most-visited park. This exclusive trip planner serves up routes guaranteed to get you off the tourist trail and into deep wilderness.

Trail Mix: Great November Hikes in the East

Your region's go-now guide: Explore New York City, hike four states in 24 hours, and perfect days in NC, GA, and NH.

Trail Mix: East

Your region's go-now guide.

Local Hikes

Jump-start your hiking season on these spring-ready trips from around the country.

Rip & Go: Bartram Trail - Nantahala National Forest, NC

Climb past a glimmering highland lake to a lofty southern bald.

Readers' Choice 2012: Reader Leader Contest Winners

More than 150 of you entered our contest to become a BACKPACKER field scout. Meet the winners.

Readers' Choice 2012: Creekside Loop, Pisgah NF, NC

Looking for a mellow weekend with swimming options? We have you covered.

Readers' Choice 2012: Top 3 - Southeast Hikes

Our prolific map contributor has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and notched more than 90 bag nights while scouting routes for BACKPACKER.

Rip & Go: Two Gorges Loop - Gorges State Park, NC

Trace the watery divide between the Carolinas.

Backyard Everests: Stone Mountain

Top a Yosemite-like dome in a sea of green.

Local Hikes: Southeast

Hike these long trails in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida, and paddle three days in the Everglades backcountry.

National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains

For guaranteed solitude in the park's southwest reaches, explore this quiet loop during the off-season.

Going to Extremes

Can you ever really have too much of a good thing? Once you've seen the biggest tree, largest glacier, and deepest canyon, nothing else compares.

America's Best-Kept Secrets: Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC



America's Best-Kept Secrets

The only thing better than enjoying the life-list scenery in the country's premier national parks? Getting that same scenery, minus the crowds. Find it in these 10 backcountry hotspots, along with no-hassle permits, choice campsites aplenty, and solitude to match the world-class terrain.

Rip & Go: Thunderhead Loop

Hike from forest floor to a rocky ridge linking twin summits in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Rip & Go: Big Creek Loop

Hike from a wildlife-choked river valley to soaring mountain views.

Trip Finder: Appalachians

Your favorite Appalachians hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.

Readers' Choice: Appalachians

Your favorite parks, weekend getaways, peak ascents, campsites, and more in the Appalachians.

Local Hikes: Asheville, NC

The best hikes near Asheville, NC.

Local Hikes: Charlotte, NC

The best hikes near Charlotte, NC.

Local Hikes: Southeast

The best local hikes in the southeast, as chosen by the area's best hiking clubs.

Print & Go: Charlies Bunion Loop, Great Smoky Mountains NP

Pack a camera for this lollipop loop to one of the best mountain views in the park: a sit-awhile panorama, atop a 5,565-foot knob with thousand foot drop-offs on three sides, that stretches from Mt. LeConte to the jagged peaks of the Sawteeth Range.

Print & Go Weekend Trip Planners

Free Print & Go PDFs give you turn-by-turn trail instructions and photos embedded on a usable topo map. Also: Gear checklists, driving directions, and geo-references for finding the nearest campground, restaurant, gas station, and grocery store.

The Peak: Mt. Mitchell

Enjoy solitude and fixed-rope scrambling on the East's highest mountain.

Local Hikes: Southeast

Climb to two killer views, see the South's best flowers, and hike to secluded falls. (Click linked trips for GPS waypoints, photos, and more.)

Local Hikes: New Hikes Near You

Our army of reader-reader scouts mapped 59 local hikes from South Carolina to Northern California. See their favorites, then learn how to download tracklogs and waypoints.

Zones: Canyons

Marvel at Mother Nature on these canyon hikes in Utah and North Carolina.

Canyon: Linville Gorge Loop, NC

Head to Asheville, North Carolina for this beautiful gorge loop.

Southeast Readers' Choice Hikes

Colossal trees, sweet swimming holes, and the USA's best picnic spot.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Ramsey Cascades, Great Smokies, TN

See big water, massive trees, and tiny amphibians.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Mt. Rogers NRA, VA

Celebrate the arrival of summer with an unrivaled circus of color.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Max Patch Bald, NC

Have a picnic on one of the Southeast's biggest balds.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Clingmans Dome to Silers Bald, TN

Bag four scenic peaks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Thru-hike the Florida Trail

See wild, historic surprises in the Sunshine State.

Readers' Choice Southeast Hikes: Raven Ridge - Blackbird Knob Loop
Dolly Sods Wilderness, WV

See a Great White North south of the Mason-Dixon.

America's Scariest Trails: What are You Afraid of?

Haunted mountains? Vanished campers? Bloodthirsty creatures? An evil wind that lures hikers over a waterfall? We dare you to hike America's scariest trails.

America's Scariest Trails: Supernatural Sights

Alpine views and starry skies are nice, but on these unsettling hikes you might see something really stunning.

Undiscovered Hikes: 19 New Trails

Hike these paths before the masses find them.

Rip & Go: Black Balsam Knob to Cold Mountain - Pisgah National Forest, NC

Trek 18.2 miles from the South's best view to its most famous mountain.

Top 3 Perfect Substitute National Forests

Get national park-caliber scenery without crowds (or entry fees!) in these dead ringers for Great Smoky Mountains, Zion, and Yosemite.

Weekend Planner: Quick Escapes

Get big views and rack up long miles with these close-to-home adventures.

Natural Wonders: Three Treks to Life-List Phenomena

Check out the world's hottest hydrothermal fumarole, Glacier's grizzlies, and a venus flytryp in North Carolina.

Top Cities to Raise A...

Does your kid want to be an ice climber? How about a thru-hiker, or paddler? These cities have just what you need.

The Best Cities To Raise An Outdoor Kid

Which towns offer the ideal mix of accessible trails, inspiring teachers, and great recreational resources? We worked with The Outdoor Foundation to identify America's top 25 places to beat nature deficit disorder.

The Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid: The Winning 25

From Boulder to Juneau to Bozeman, see which cities made the cut for the best place to raise an outdoor kid, and why.

Master the Steeps: High-Angle Hiking Trails

First, check out our tips for healthy hiking on steep terrain in the May 2009 issue then, put them to the test on one of our favorite high-angle trails from California to North Carolina.

SOUTH
Special Survey: Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid

Accessible national forests like the George Washington and Jefferson surround national park gems like Great Smoky and Shenandoah in a southern terrain that varies dramatically from Florida's Everglades to West Virginia's wilderness.

Bioluminescent Organisms: 3 Living Lights

According to folklore, the soft light emitted by bioluminescent organisms is magical. In reality, the eerie glow results from a chemical reaction–but it still looks enchanting on a moonless or cloudy night. Here's where to glimpse these living light bulbs.

Top 3 Night Hikes

These dark-sky treks serve up perfect viewing spots for autumn's intergalactic bling in North Carolina, New Mexico, and California

Top 3 CCC Trails

The Civilian Conservation Corps is turning 75—so celebrate right by hiking its classics.

Trip Finder: Waterfall Hikes

Nine ways to get your cascade fix from Tennessee to Montana.

America's Hardest Dayhikes

Push yourself on any of these challenging hikes

High Points: Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina

A high point that provides an alluring combination of scenery, storms, and access.

Fall Hiking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mellow temperatures, low water and autumn colors make for a perfect time in the Smokies

North Carolina's Hungry Forests

Visit Croatan National Forest, a place so wild it has more flesh-eating plants than people.

Secrets Hikes Of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Can a place that sees 9 million visitors a year really have any surprises? You bet. We found three hikes full of unexpected history, scenery, and solitude.

Best Backpacking In North Carolina

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in North Carolina.

Hiking North Carolina's Valley River Mountains

Sniff the rhododendrons and enjoy hiking the Valley Rim Trail in North Carolina's Valley River Mountains.

Avoiding Snakes: Nature's Evil Twins

Some species look alike, but guess wrong and you could have a harmful mistake on your hands.

North Carolina/Georgia's Bartram Trail

Take along your plant guidebooks for this flora-filled treasure.

Ellicott Rock Wilderness: Rock And Stroll

History is carved in stone in this wild and scenic southern river corridor in North Carolina and Georgia.

North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Trade your flip-flops for hiking boots and explore a seaside trail.

North Carolina's Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area

Wind through what remains of a lost Carolina world.

North Carolina's Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area

A rugged land of sweet-smelling wildflowers, bald mountains, and stone Indians.

North Carolina's Bear Island

Hike with sea turtles, watch the dolphins play, and share the beach with ghost crabs.

Forest Facts: Champion Trees

Forthwith, interesting tidbits about Great Smoky's largest forest dwellers.

Owls In Merchants Millpond State Park

The bawling in the black night is the spring chorus of hooting barred owls.

The Smokies: Backwoods-Style

Here's your insider's guide to The Great Smokies, probably the epitome of a true backpacker's national park.

North Carolina's Joyce Kilmer Wilderness

The most old-growth forest in the east resides in North Carolina's Joyce Kilmer Wilderness.

North Carolina's Mountains To Sea Trail

It's not complete, but North Carolina's Mountains To Sea trail rivals Inman's journey in "Cold Mountain."

Sheer Beauty: North Carolina's Linville Gorge

Drop off the lip of Linville Gorge into a world of rock escarpments, deep forests, and whitewater.

North Carolina's Uwharrie Mountains

The ancient Uwharries have baffled geologists, but hikers know a good thing when they see it.

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