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Backpacker Magazine – November 2008

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

by: Sarah Moïse Young

Shining Rock Wilderness, NC (Steven McBride)
Shining Rock Wilderness, NC (Steven McBride)
Ventana Wilderness, CA (Paige Falk)
Ventana Wilderness, CA (Paige Falk)

Shining Rock Wilderness, NC | Ventana Wilderness, CA | Pecos Wilderness, NM

With silvery shadows and spooky noises, night hiking lends even the most familiar trail a hint of danger and exoticism. But these three nocturnal treks into our backcountry's darkest zones will thrill you with the added spectacle of interplanetary storms, full moons, and other galactic bling.

Shining Rock Wilderness, NC
Catch an epic meteor shower.
Cold Mountain may be best known as the backdrop for the Civil War-era novel and movie of the same name, but you won't see anyone in hoop skirts on your way to its 6,030-foot summit. Between November 13 and 20, it's the best seat in the Smokies to view The Leonids, an intense meteor storm in the northern sky caused by intergalactic debris. The shower peaks on November 17, when 40 meteors per hour radiate from Leo (below the Big Dipper). From Big East Fork trailhead, take the Chestnut Ridge Trail 2.5 miles to the Art Loeb Trail and cruise four miles to Cold Mountain. Camp near the well-worn summit trail, and set your alarm for a midnight climb the last .5 mile to the top. (828-877-3265, cs.unca.edu/nfsnc)

Star Attraction
Revive at Papa's and Beer in Hendersonville with a kicking pumpkin-seed-and-habañero salsa. Try it on an omelette. (828) 692-9915

The way
From Asheville, take I-26 east to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn north, and at milepost 412, turn northwest on US 276. Travel 1.25 miles to Big East Fork Parking Area.




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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Lexa
Jan 30, 2014

SPOT ON! When I first saw the tag line I immediately thought Shining Rock ... and then ANYWHERE in New Mexico.

Star
deltazen
Dec 12, 2013

November 2008 - my, what nice fresh content!

Don't forget to schedule your night hikes with the mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and badgers. What?! There are bears out there too??

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Paul
Dec 06, 2011

Sounds like Santa Fe Baldy to me, this is not the way to access Pecos Baldy.

And Wendy, I've hiked this area several times after the summer fire and the trails you use for this hike are not in the burn scar. However, it's quite visible as you ascend.

Ryan
Dec 01, 2011

Pretty sure you have the wrong Baldy. Mt. Baldy is in norther NM near Eagle Nest and the highest peak in that range is Wheeler. Not sure which peak you're thinking of in Pecos.

Ben Pattison
Nov 03, 2009

Wendy, Night hiking is awesome. and I am sure that after a couple of washes your gear will be as good as new after all, it is outdoor gear and it is bound to get dirty. If not then you are not using is correctly.
Joe. No we had no Idea that there were other wilderness areas in New Mexico besides Pecos. thanks for enlightening us.

David
Dec 12, 2008

It is not Mt. Baldy in the Pecos Wilderness. I think they are writing about Santa Fe Baldy. The Truchas peaks are higher.

wendy
Dec 11, 2008

You do realize this area was completely devasted by wildfires this summer and is likely to have loose, ruined trails, downed and burnt trees, and a serious lack of foliage until the spring?? Walking around this area at night is likely to get you a twisted ankle and sooted stained clothes! It's wisest to stay out of the burned areas. Go south my friends.

Mark
Dec 11, 2008

Bah! I couldn't agree more about this info coming in late! someone probably just did the Carolina hike and then posted about it after the fact...

Mark
Dec 11, 2008

Bah! I couldn't agree more about this info coming in late! someone probably just did the Carolina hike and then posted about it after the fact...

peter
Dec 11, 2008

Hey Tony, it was in the Oct issue.

Joe
Dec 10, 2008

You guys do realize there are other wilderness areas in New Mexico besides Pecos, right?

nils
Dec 10, 2008

woops, ventana is closed until spring.

nils
Dec 10, 2008

Just a heads up, This area is closed till spring due to fire damage.

Tony
Dec 10, 2008

You should have sent this out in September or at least early November at least, both the Carolina and California say to go in November and it's December 10th! I was actually in the smokies during the meteor shower, but didn't know it, I just saw a few shooting stars! I could have done the night hike!

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