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Hiking

Whether you’re a day-hiker or a thru-hiker, answer the call of the wild along one of hundreds of hiking trails across the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

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","image":{"_id":"55cce9b2f41eb6aa2d022e73","title":"Couple Hiking","notes":"From the agency shoot, 2012","resource_raw":{"public_id":"clients/asheville/MCBRIDE091312LUCKIEACVB-0304 HIKING_f30246e7-3d4c-4f35-b647-4fa1b6cfe889","version":1439492498,"signature":"345d54ed9b9c7e950554e75acd378d32f8c68319","width":3600,"height":2400,"format":"jpg","resource_type":"image","created_at":"2015-08-13T19:01:38.000Z","bytes":7686187,"type":"upload","etag":"b252cdb84fd4820dcf59b934974a3d7d","url":"http://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1439492498/clients/asheville/MCBRIDE091312LUCKIEACVB-0304%20HIKING_f30246e7-3d4c-4f35-b647-4fa1b6cfe889.jpg","secure_url":"https://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1439492498/clients/asheville/MCBRIDE091312LUCKIEACVB-0304%20HIKING_f30246e7-3d4c-4f35-b647-4fa1b6cfe889.jpg","exif":{"ApertureValue":"6/1","Artist":"Steven McBride Photography","BitsPerSample":"8, 8, 8","ColorSpace":"65535","Compression":"1","Copyright":"Steven McBride Photography, Inc.","CustomRendered":"0","DateTime":"2013:01:22 10:08:00","DateTimeDigitized":"2012:09:13 08:48:49","DateTimeOriginal":"2012:09:13 08:48:49","ExifImageLength":"2400","ExifImageWidth":"3600","ExifOffset":"388","ExifVersion":"48, 50, 51, 48","ExposureBiasValue":"1/3","ExposureMode":"0","ExposureProgram":"3","ExposureTime":"1/640","Flash":"16","FNumber":"8/1","FocalLength":"24/1","FocalPlaneResolutionUnit":"2","FocalPlaneXResolution":"5616000/1459","FocalPlaneYResolution":"3744000/958","ImageLength":"3744","ImageWidth":"5616","ISOSpeedRatings":"400","JPEGInterchangeFormat":"1014","JPEGInterchangeFormatLength":"7001","Make":"Canon","MaxApertureValue":"3/1","MeteringMode":"5","Model":"Canon EOS 5D Mark II","Orientation":"1","PhotometricInterpretation":"2","PlanarConfiguration":"1","ResolutionUnit":"2","SamplesPerPixel":"3","SceneCaptureType":"0","ShutterSpeedValue":"9321928/1000000","Software":"Adobe Photoshop CS5 Windows","SubSecTimeDigitized":"11","SubSecTimeOriginal":"11","WhiteBalance":"1","XResolution":"3000000/10000","YResolution":"3000000/10000"},"original_filename":"file"},"categories_ids":["5592f006ede6268e0c265be7"],"tags_ids":["55c9fd9fb6a71acd128f3a14"],"credits":"Steven McBride/Luckie","updated":"2015-08-13T19:02:10.207Z","created":"2015-08-13T19:02:10.209Z","original_public_id":"clients/asheville/MCBRIDE091312LUCKIEACVB-0304 HIKING_f30246e7-3d4c-4f35-b647-4fa1b6cfe889","content_owner":"default","deleted":false,"title_sort":"couple hiking","id":"55cce9b2f41eb6aa2d022e73","type":"image","resource":{"raw":{"resource_type":"image","format":"jpg","public_id":"clients/asheville/MCBRIDE091312LUCKIEACVB-0304 HIKING_f30246e7-3d4c-4f35-b647-4fa1b6cfe889"}},"inAssetRequest":false,"alt_text":"Couple Hiking"}},{"title":"Asheville's Wildflower Bloom Schedule","url":"/stories/post/wildflower-bloom-schedule/","author":"Asheville Insider","publishDateMoment":"2015-09-29T20:57:00.000Z","description":"

Spring in the Mountains is a Pastel Paradise

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The landscape of the southern Appalachians, the oldest mountains in the world, is rich in biodiversity, offering you an opportunity to discover flora not found anywhere else in the world. In Asheville, seasonal favorites like daffodils, tulips and violets herald the arrival of spring with their showy blooms, and as the season progresses, budding wildflowers climb in elevation to the tops of the highest peaks. It is this progression that provides Asheville with one of the longest wildflower seasons in the country, extending from March all the way through October.

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Where the Wild Things Are

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April through June offers the best opportunity to see the most blooms appearing at one time. During these months, the forests are covered with flowering trillium, lady slippers, japonicas, jack-in-the-pulpits, wild ginger, evening primrose, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and hundreds of other species. Popular places for wildflower hunting include Craggy Gardens and Graveyard Fields, or choose from our recommended places to hike near Asheville. Our spring flower bloom schedule will give you an idea of what to look for during your visit.

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Amazing Gardens You’re Sure to Dig

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The fertile grounds of the Asheville valley are a gardener’s paradise, and you’ll find our area floral displays are so well crafted, they’re practically works of art. Western North Carolina’s largest showcase of flowers is the annual Biltmore Blooms. This masterpiece of gardening runs from March through May and features over 130,000 flowers. Other beautiful gardens include the North Carolina Arboretum, the Botanical Gardens of Asheville and a number of secret gardens you can tour by appointment only.

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Schedule

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March is the start of the spring flower bloom season, and there are several varieties and species of flowers to see in the Western North Carolina mountains. Here are the flowers that typically bloom in March in the Asheville area, as well as suggested spots to view the spring flowers. Discover these wild blooms by hiking the best trails near Asheville.

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    Daffodil
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    Dutchman's Breeches
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    Iris
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    Ruby Giant
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    Spring Beauty
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    Yellow Violet
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When April arrives, the spring flower bloom season gains momentum. Discover beautiful and colorful varieties and species of flowers to see in the Western North Carolina mountains. Here are pictures of the flowers that typically bloom in April in the Asheville area. Discover these wild blooms by hiking the best trails near Asheville.

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    Daffodil
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    Dogwood
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    Painted Trillium
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    Phacelia
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    Pink Lady Slipper
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    Yellow Lady Slipper
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    Pinkshell Azalea
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    Redbud
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    Tulip
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May in the North Carolina mountains explodes in a symphony of colorful spring flower blossoms, revealing numerous shades of red, purple, pink, orange, blue and white. Here are the flowers that typically bloom in May in the Asheville area. Discover these wild blooms by hiking the best trails near Asheville.

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    Crab Apple
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    Dogwood
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    Flame Azalea
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    Japonica
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    Mountain Laurel
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    Mountain Magnolia
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    Pinkshell Azalea
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    Trailing Arbutus
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    Painted Trillium
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    Violet
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    Wild Cherry
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June in the North Carolina mountains features some unique and stunning flower blooms as spring transitions into summer. Here are the flowers that typically bloom in June in the Asheville area. Discover these wild blooms by hiking the best trails near Asheville.

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    Fire Pinks
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    Flame Azalea
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    Gray's Lily
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    Ox-Eyed Daisy
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    Purple Rhododendron
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    White Rhododendron
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    Turkeybeard
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\r\n","image":{"_id":"570696490d5b2bde2eb49697","original_public_id":"clients/asheville/sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44","title":"Sunrise Flowers","notes":"From BCTDA folder\r\nAll Rights Reserved","resource_raw":{"public_id":"clients/asheville/sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44","version":1460049405,"signature":"9fd8f90db478da72aa0c7669a5388c59315d0786","width":5760,"height":3840,"format":"jpg","resource_type":"image","created_at":"2016-04-07T17:16:45.000Z","bytes":11292210,"type":"upload","etag":"1ec0944d3104215d761fcb3b8dbac2b7","url":"http://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1460049405/clients/asheville/sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44.jpg","secure_url":"https://res.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1460049405/clients/asheville/sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44.jpg","exif":{"ApertureValue":"5655638/1000000","Artist":"Amplified Media","ColorSpace":"1","Compression":"6","Copyright":"2012 All Rights Reserved","CustomRendered":"0","DateTime":"2014:08:13 14:53:08","DateTimeDigitized":"2014:08:13 06:33:20","DateTimeOriginal":"2014:08:13 06:33:20","ExifOffset":"282","ExifVersion":"48, 50, 51, 48","ExposureBiasValue":"0/1","ExposureMode":"1","ExposureProgram":"1","ExposureTime":"1/60","Flash":"16","FNumber":"71/10","FocalLength":"47/1","FocalPlaneResolutionUnit":"3","FocalPlaneXResolution":"52428800/32768","FocalPlaneYResolution":"52428800/32768","ISOSpeedRatings":"100","JPEGInterchangeFormat":"936","JPEGInterchangeFormatLength":"10983","Make":"Canon","MaxApertureValue":"4/1","MeteringMode":"5","Model":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","ResolutionUnit":"2","SceneCaptureType":"0","ShutterSpeedValue":"5906891/1000000","Software":"Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.3 (Macintosh)","SubSecTimeDigitized":"91","SubSecTimeOriginal":"91","WhiteBalance":"0","XResolution":"240/1","YResolution":"240/1"},"original_filename":"sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44","done":true},"categories_ids":["55c25a8f5ddbedcd6f05d2f8"],"tags_ids":["55d4a02e77c36c6a5650ac93","55de16c46a05ea9c294b4cca","55df57376a05ea9c294b5877","560569bdc4262c541d74b05f"],"alt_text_raw":"Sunrise over the mountains illuminates a field of wildflowers near Asheville.","credits":"Jared Kay","content_owner":"default","updated":"2016-04-07T17:18:01.797Z","created":"2016-04-07T17:18:01.799Z","deleted":false,"title_sort":"sunrise flowers","id":"570696490d5b2bde2eb49697","type":"image","resource":{"raw":{"resource_type":"image","format":"jpg","public_id":"clients/asheville/sunrise_flowers_jaredkay2_85e47673-6840-41d2-a516-e1b219869b44"}},"inAssetRequest":false,"alt_text":"Sunrise over the mountains illuminates a field of wildflowers near Asheville."}},{"title":"Day Trip: Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park","url":"/stories/post/day-trip-exploring-the-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/","author":"K.C. Cronin","publishDateMoment":"2015-12-30T17:53:00.000Z","description":"

Discover the Smokies by Trail, Train or Tube

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To walk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to follow in the footsteps of the Cherokee Indians; living on this land for more than 14,000 years. Because of the great efforts of many, today the 520,000-acre Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) is protected forever. And today all of us can stand atop Clingman’s Dome and see the same endless blue view, fish for trout in the same clear streams and spot the same spring wildflowers as did the ancient Cherokee people.

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There are many ways to spend a day in the Park. To make the most of your day trip from Asheville, choose an adventure itinerary below that best speaks to the explorer in you.

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All you "need to do is park and get off the many, many roads of this large park and see that blue mountain haze that is part of this beautiful mythological place." - Ken Burns (co-creator, PBS documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea) from interview with USA Today

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Adventure # 1: Head to Cataloochee Valley for Hiking, Heritage & Wildlife Appalachian Heritage

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\"AnThis gorgeous green valley (55 miles from Asheville) was once an early settlement of farmers before the GSMNP was formed. A visit to Cataloochee is like walking back into the early nineteenth century. Walk into the old school house and see the initials of the students carved into the desks. Picture folks dressed in their Sunday best as they enter Palmer Church in the 1890’s. Visit the well-preserved Palmer House and imagine the family huddled by the fire on a cold winter’s night.

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Where the Elk Roam Freely: In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the Park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Keep your eyes open for other wildlife including white-tailed deer, black bears, butterflies and many species of birds.

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Hiking Through History: The Boogerman Trail is a 7-mile loop through groves of old-growth forest (a few stand more than 170 feet tall) crossing over one of the longest footbridges in the Park. The Little Cataloochee Trail is a 5.2-mile hike passing old log cabins, a church and a cemetery. This is a hike made for history buffs but there are some steep climbs.

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Trout Fishing: Cataloochee Creek and its tributaries have a healthy population of wild trout. Pick up fishing regulations at a park visitor center.

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Adventure #2: Take a Dip in Deep Creek & Hit the Trails

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Hike to the Falls (Ken Burns’ favorites): An easy 1.6-mile roundtrip hike from this area near Bryson City, awards you with two beautiful waterfalls; the 60-foot high Tom Branch Falls and just a bit further, the 25-foot Indian Creek Falls. From the parking area follow the sign for the 80-foot Juney Whank Falls.

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Tubing – Lazy Cruise or Wild Ride? The Upper part of Deep Creek can be a bit on the wild side with bouncy white water action. The Lower Creek offers a gentle cruise down river. Both offer a chance to enjoy the swimming hole – perfect summer day!

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Fly Fishing: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,900 miles of streams. Deep Creek is one of the best brown trout streams in the Park.\"Toms

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Mountain Biking: This is one of the very few places in the Park where mountain biking is allowed. There are short in-and-out trails. If you are a serious rider, take a detour out of the Park 15 miles west of Bryson City to the world-class trails at Tsali Recreation Area.

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Adventure #3: Smokies Ultimate Road Trip

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If The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been on your “bucket list” for years and you want to hit all of the highlights in one day, then this trip is designed for you. But it also appeals to the masses so consider going during off-season months – September, November and April through early June.

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Begin your drive from Asheville to Cherokee, entering the Park’s Oconaluftee Visitors Center. If you are considering taking the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee, save that for another day – you have a long drive ahead.

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First stop will be the iconic Clingmans Dome – about 80 miles from Asheville and the highest peak in the Smokies. At the halfway point you enter Tennessee at the Park’s Sugarlands Visitors Center, from here drive to Cades Cove. This lush valley with towering peaks is an 11-mile loop road, a great place to picnic before heading back to Asheville.

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Adventure #4: Making Family Memories on the Railroad

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Just outside the GSMNP in Bryson City, board a vintage train and see some of the most scenic areas of the Smoky Mountains via the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Fall is especially amazing with spectacular views of the forest’s brilliant colors.

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During the holiday season the train is magically transformed into the Polar Express (after the beloved children’s book and movie) and travels to a mythical North Pole where Santa is waiting. Your kids won’t forget the ride and neither will you.

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Know Before You Go:

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  • Plan for a full day and leave early.
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  • Bring jacket, water, lunch/snacks, wear good walking/hiking shoes.
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  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas before entering the Park.
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  • Always check the weather and road conditions in the Park before going
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To learn more about other outdoor adventures in the Asheville area click HERE.

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Top photo by Jeremy Wilson.  Waterfall photo by Jason Tarr.

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A Fun-Filled Day in Pisgah National Forest

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The Pisgah National Forest is home to mile-high peaks, countless waterfalls, rushing rivers, endless trails and rich forests covering a mind-boggling half million acres. This vast preserve reaches north and west of Asheville and includes the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911 that led to the creation of national forests in the eastern United States.

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You would need weeks to explore Pisgah properly. But if you have just a day, find the best of Pisgah along a 12-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 276 starting from Brevard (an easy 30-minute drive from Asheville). Your first stop should be the Pisgah Ranger Station on the right for the latest info on fun for all interests, including best hiking trails, mountain biking and horseback rides, along with informative exhibits about the forest.

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Drive a few more miles for a short detour to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Walk the hatchery raceways to watch thousands of trout that will stock many mountain rivers. Inside, see exhibits and watch an award-winning documentary on the area’s fascinating natural history. Find numerous trails at the center for either a short stroll or challenging hike. Walk the Cat Gap Loop trail for a mile to Cedar Rock Falls or stroll along the river.

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For the more adventurous, take one of the most iconic hikes in the state to the top of Looking Glass Rock with sweeping views. The 6.5-mile roundtrip hike is strenuous, so allow at least four hours. You’ll find the trailhead along the road leading to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife.

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Back along US 276, stop at one of many riverside picnic tables for lunch. By the way, stop at a farmer’s market or deli in the city to pick up food before you leave the city since you won’t find any restaurants or stores inside the forest.   

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Next, stop at a gorgeous roadside waterfall, Looking Glass Falls. It’s one of the most beautiful settings you’ll find. During the summer, dip your toes in the chilly water.

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Another mile up the road is the ever-popular Sliding Rock, the natural waterslide that delights both kids and adults each summer. In cooler months, it’s a very tranquil spot to enjoy.

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Drive four miles more to the Cradle of Forestry, the site of the first forestry school in America. Today it features many historic buildings, trails, exhibits and fun events like the Twilight Firefly Tour and the Songcatchers music series.

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To return to Asheville, continue up US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and head north. For the perfect topper to the day, stop at long-time favorite Pisgah Inn for dinner paired with panoramic mountain views.

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Note: If you prefer a guided expedition, ride the trails with Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures or go horseback riding at Pisgah Stables to Twin Falls.

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High Falls

10 Waterfalls You Want to Find Now

by Mark File

With hundreds of beautiful cascades near Asheville, where do you begin? Here’s a quick sampler to get you started. These 10 locations represent a diverse range of options, so there’s something for everyone.    Tallest: Upper … read more

Sweeping mountain views, great food, and lively music create the vibe in Asheville

50 Things to Do in Asheville

by Del Holston

If you’re looking for things to do in Asheville, then consider this list your primer to the many activities available in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re a first-time visitor, or perhaps well acquainted with the flare of this … read more

Looking Glass Falls

6 Drive-By Waterfalls: A Windshield Tour for All to Enjoy

by Mark File

The Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville are home to thousands of beautiful cascades . While most are in remote areas or require a hike to see, here are half a dozen waterfalls that you can easily enjoy from the road. And they are all free to … read more

High Falls

A Day Trip to DuPont

by Melissa Stanz

Less than an hour’s drive south of Asheville between Hendersonville and Brevard, drop-dead gorgeous DuPont State Recreational Forest is a wonderful day trip if you enjoy waterfalls, easy trail access, and beautiful scenery—and who … read more

Autumn glory in the Smokies

An Eden Still Unspoiled

by Janet Moore

There was drama in the mountains of Western North Carolina back in the 1920s and 1930s, and it had nothing to do with prohibition and moonshine. One need only read Serena , Ron Rash’s riveting novel set in the region’s rich timber country … read more

An Evening with the Elk

An Evening with the Elk

by Mark File

A quick trip to the gorgeous Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains offers big rewards. The biggest is getting a close-up view of the majestic elk that weigh up to 900 pounds, making them the largest animals in the park. The large meadows by … read more

Couple Hiking

Asheville Hiking Guide: The Trail Starts Here

by Joanne O'Sullivan

Thousands of miles of trails twist, meander, dip and climb through the peaks and valleys around Asheville. In this world-class hiking destination, you can take your pick from peaceful hikes along mountain streams and technical scrambles up steep … read more

Sunrise over the mountains illuminates a field of wildflowers near Asheville.

Asheville's Wildflower Bloom Schedule

by Asheville Insider

The landscape of the southern Appalachians, the oldest mountains in the world, is rich in biodiversity, offering you an opportunity to discover flora not found anywhere else in the world. In Asheville, seasonal favorites like daffodils, tulips and … read more

GSMNP Sunset

Day Trip: Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

by K.C. Cronin

To walk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to follow in the footsteps of the Cherokee Indians; living on this land for more than 14,000 years. Because of the great efforts of many , today the 520,000-acre Great Smoky Mountain National Park … read more

Looking Glass Rock with wildflowers

Doing Pisgah Perfectly

by Mark File

The Pisgah National Forest is home to mile-high peaks, countless waterfalls, rushing rivers, endless trails and rich forests covering a mind-boggling half million acres. This vast preserve reaches north and west of Asheville and includes the first … read more