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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 Appalachian Trail, NC/TN
Trailside vistas in the Smokies open onto purple mountains tumbling off to the horizon, their slopes trailing misty tendrils toward the sky. Start at Newfound Gap and follow the AT 31.4 miles north toward Davenport Gap. Share campfire laughs with fellow hikers, berry-rich meadows with black bears, and get drop-away views at Charlies Bunion. Take the side trail 5.2 miles before Davenport Gap, and hike .6 mile to the turret atop 4,928-foot Mt. Cammerer to suck in one last sunset.
HISTORY Ridge Trail, VA
Few places have had more strategic significance than Cumberland Gap, where Kentucky and Virginia intersect near Tennessee. Take two days to explore this 21-mile point-to-point along the Ridge Trail in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The gap forms a passage through the Cumberland Mountains that was used by Shawnee and Cherokee tribes, and later Daniel Boone. During the Civil War, the gap changed hands several times before General Burnside won it in 1863.

FLORA Roan Highlands, TN
The treeless balds between Carvers Gap and TN 19E on the North Carolina-Tennessee border harbor some of the world’s last habitat for the Gray’s lily, a deep-orange, bell-shaped flower with brown freckles dotting the petals’ interior. Hike 14.4 miles north (one-way) on the Appalachian Trail in late June to catch the bloom on Little Hump and Hump Mountains (at 6.8 and nine miles, respectively). Camp on Little Hump Mountain for unhindered sunset and sunrise views.

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