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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Trip Finder: Appalachians

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

by: Casey Lyons

Confederate cannons on Henry Hill. (Mary Liz Austin)
Confederate cannons on Henry Hill. (Mary Liz Austin)
Flame azaleas atop the Roan Highlands (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Flame azaleas atop the Roan Highlands (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Cumberland Falls on the Sheltowee Trace (Pat & Chuck Blackley)
Cumberland Falls on the Sheltowee Trace (Pat & Chuck Blackley)


FIRE TOWERS Sheltowee Trace, TN/KY
From Pickett, Tennessee, to Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky, the Sheltowee Trace spans 59 miles of limestone ridges, creekside campsites, and visits the banks of the Cumberland River. You’ll pass 75 waterfalls, including 113-foot Yahoo Falls, Kentucky’s tallest. Inside Cumberland Falls park, take Trail 2 to 1,400-foot Pinnacle Knob, and climb the fire tower (call ahead for access; 800-325-0063) to see hills rising above the Cumberland Plateau.

HISTORY North Bend Rail Trail, WV
This 72-mile section of the American Discovery Trail in North Bend State Park passes through 13 tunnels blasted and bored by the B&O Railroad in the 1850s— including the longest, 337-foot Tunnel #10 at mile 30.4. Take a headlamp through Tunnel #19 at mile 21.9. Old train hands claim to have seen the shade of a woman in a wedding gown, and hikers have reported sudden temperature drops, mysterious breezes, and arches that appear to glow deep underground.

FLORA Art Loeb Trail, NC
Survey the best of eastern blooms on this 36-mile route in Pisgah National Forest. Begin near Cold Mountain and traverse balds fringed with blueberries (July). At mile 24.6, hit 6,040-foot Shining Rock’s quartzite summit, then go left to the Shining Creek Trail. Descend under a canopy adorned with flowering yellow-and-orange tulip poplars and an understory colored by magenta princess slippers (both April). Loop back to the Art Loeb on the Big East Fork and Greasy Cove Trails.


Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Dwayne Hoffman, 34, of Manassas Park, Virginia, heads to Sky Meadows State Park to hike the South Ridge and Ambassador Whitehouse Trails.

Gabriel Butler, 32, of Richmond, Kentucky, loves to dayhike nearby Red River Gorge. He heads off-trail near Auxier Ridge in his ongoing hunt for hidden arches along the rim. 

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