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Backpacker Magazine – February/March 2013

Trail Mix — East — March 2013

Your region's go-now guide: Visit a new hikers' hostel connected to 50 miles of trail in Maine's Bigelow Mountains, see the rare Oconee bell in South Carolina's Jocassee Gorges area, explore the world's longest mapped cave system near Louisville, and more.

by: Graham Averill (See This Now), Ryan Pinkard, Nathan Pipenberg (This Just In), and Rachel Zurer

Lower Panther Falls (Photo by Carl Donohue)
Photo by BP0313TRIPE_TM_Donohue_PantherFalls_bjk_445x260.jpg
Lower Panther Falls (Photo by Carl Donohue)
Oconee Bell (Photo by Rob Travis)
Photo by BP0313TRIPE_TM_Travis_OconeeBell_bjk_445x260.jpg
Oconee Bell (Photo by Rob Travis)
InstaWinner Ben Budd: Kyle Hunicke on Shortoff Mountain (Photo by Ben Budd)
Photo by BP0313TRIPE_TM_Budd_Linville_bjkINSTAGRAM2_445x260.jpg
InstaWinner Ben Budd: Kyle Hunicke on Shortoff Mountain (Photo by Ben Budd)

See This Now 
Oconee Bells, Jocassee Gorges, SC
For more than a century, scientists thought the tiny Oconee bell was extinct. They were wrong. The rare wildflower is alive and well, but blooms only in a few counties along the North and South Carolina border. Look for it mid-March to mid-April in the Jocassee Gorges area of South Carolina. Colonies are easy to find on the mile-long Oconee Bell Nature Trail in Devil’s Fork State Park, but for an overnight on a wilder route, head to the Foothills Trail on the northern edge of Lake Jocassee. Spy patches of bells along the banks of the Laurel Fork as it descends toward the lake. At mile eight, bag a primo campsite near 80-foot Laurel Fork Falls. Trip ID 1357858

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