We can all agree that tradition is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Sharing a tradition builds family bonds and provides the comfort of familiarity, but after a while the years can start to blur together until no one can remember what year Uncle Johnny lit the neighbor's yard on fire deep frying a turkey, or when Grandma’s pecan pie won first prize in the county fair.

And while carrying out the traditions themselves can be more cherished than the secret family recipe they are built around, every once in awhile, change can be a welcome breath of fresh air. We believe in the invigorating power of that fresh air, which is why we are proposing something a little different for this holiday season. Below is a guide to creating a holiday feast al fresco with a few recipes to cook over a campfire. So be bold and savor the new experience. The food will taste better as the cool crisp air heightens your senses. And who knows, you might just be creating a new tradition.

Enjoy the stunning colors of fall, on the table and outdoors.

Hailey Moore

To make the most of your meal, take time to plan the menu. We’ve offered some great recipes here, but feel free to make modifications that cater to your taste. Most of the recipes will require at least a few of these key ingredients:

Staple Ingredients: Fire-proof gloves, aluminum foil, camp skillet, olive oil, sharp knife, salt and pepper, 1-2 heads fresh garlic

Specific ingredients for each dish are listed below. Of course a campfire is going to be the most important element in your rustic repast, so be sure to know the basics of building a good cooking fire. A level, U-shaped fire ring with one prominent “chimney” stone at the back is ideal, but any flat fire ring will eventually produce the desired bed of smoldering coals. This smoldering bed of coals is going to be crucial to ensure even cooking of your food. Bringing along a fire grate is optional but encouraged if you intend to use camp cookware. However, several of the recipes below call for no more from the kitchen then a simple roll of aluminum foil, which is great if you plan on packing light.

Hobo Packs

Hobo Packs use a few key ingredients that will transformed once cooked together.

Katie Taylor

These recipes embody the simplistic yet delicious flavors that can be achieved by cooking over an open fire with nothing more than aluminum foil and your favorite seasonal produce or cured meats. Quick pro tip: once you have your fire blazing and are waiting for it to turn to coal, place your fresh garlic on a nearby stone to roast while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Be sure the garlic does not catch fire, but is close enough to roast in the husk. This will make an amazingly smoky, savory addition to your meal. Now you’re ready to begin.

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 large beets, peeled and chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, sage or rosemary
  • a couple cloves of roasted garlic
  • handful dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, or pecans
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by chopping an assortment of the fall veggies listed above. It is important to chop them fairly small so that you’re not waiting all night for them to cook. Tear a 12-inch sheet of aluminum foil (one per person) and mold around your fist in the shape of a “pocket”. Depending on how full you’re filling your pocket, you may want to double up the foil. Drizzle some olive oil into the bottom of the pocket to prevent sticking and fill with veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a sprig of thyme, sage, or rosemary and stuff in a couple cloves of roasted garlic if you made some earlier. Add about ¼ cup of water, fold pocket closed and set to cook on the coals for 20-40 minutes. Bringing along some pre-cooked bacon, or honey ham to throw in with your veggies is also a great way to add a savory umami kick.

Chorizo Hobo Packs

  • 8 oz. dried Spanish chorizo, casings removed and chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds fingerling potatoes, chopped (skin on is OK)
  • 3- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, sage or rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

The great thing about using dried chorizo here is that you don’t have to worry about refrigeration and can spend the day on the trail worry-free. Chop all of your ingredients and wrap per the same method as the Veggie Hobo Packs. Cook over the coals for 25-35 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Campfire Panini and Turkey Cream Cheese Sammy

A skillet over the campfire is a great way to cook cheesy, delicious paninis.

Basheer Tome

If low maintenance cooking is your M.O., we’ve got you covered. Sandwiches, especially hot sandwiches with beautiful golden-buttered toast, and melted cheese oozing through the crumb (let the salivation begin) are perhaps one of the most underrated comfort foods around. And with the holidays being about comfort food, we thought we’d share some of our suggestions for making the best holiday sandwich you’ve ever had. The amounts here yield about 4 sandwiches.


  • 8-10 oz. carved roasted turkey or honey ham
  • 1 jar fig preserves, apple butter or cranberry chutney (you pick your jam)
  • 8 oz. sliced gruyere, gouda, brie, provolone or swiss (you want a creamy, melting cheese)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
  • A loaf of sliced bread (honey wheat or sourdough are great options)

Assemble your sandwiches with the ingredients listed. Heat a camp skillet over the hot coals and add 1 tbl. butter to melt. Once butter is melted, toast your sandwich in the pan, grilled-cheese style.

Turkey Cream Cheese

  • 8-10 oz. Carved roasted turkey
  • 8 -10 slices crispy bacon
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • handful chives, chopped or fresh rosemary, chopped
  • A loaf of sliced bread (try rye or pumpernickel)

Toast your bread slices in a pan with a small amount of butter. Meanwhile, mix cream cheese with chives or rosemary (or both!). Once toasted, spread the herb cream cheese on your bread slices and go to town adding the turkey and bacon slices. It’s that easy.

Holiday Hash

Use traditional seasonal ingredients—or anything else you like—in creating a campfire hash.

Hailey Moore

This dish is a mash-up of the sweet and savory holiday flavors that make a dish satisfying. This is a one pan meal which makes it ideal for camp cooking.

Camp skillet

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or pork sausage (if hiking at all before setting up camp, use frozen sausage so that it will be cold but thawed by the time you’re ready to cook)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbl. maple syrup
  • 2-3 cloves roasted garlic, minced
  • A few dashes of the following spices: cinnamon, cayenne, and sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Coat the bottom of skillet with olive oil, cook sausage with maple syrup until browned, then remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside. Add onions and sweet potatoes to the pan and cook until sweet potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add apples and spice mixture, cooking 8-10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes and apples are completely tender. Return the cooked sausage to the pan and toss together with a handful of dried cranberries, pecans or toasted pumpkin seeds!

Baked Apples

Is anything more reminiscent of the holidays then the aroma of baking apples and cinnamon? This perfect combination is truly a hallmark of any holiday meal, and should be included in yours too.

For our rustic rendition of baked apples you will need an apple per person, aluminum foil, pairing knife and a 50/50 cinnamon-sugar mix. Leaving the skin on, cut a hole in the top and bottom of the apples to pop out the core and create a hole that cuts through the apple. Set the apple upright on a piece of foil. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar mixture into the hole (which should be closed off by the foil) and wrap the foil closed around the apple. Place on the coals to cook for 10-15 minutes and enjoy a piping hot-baked apple.

It’s true that most of us do not eat the same way year-round as we do around the holidays. We expect the same to be true for how we eat on the trail—usually we throw in a few packs of instant oatmeal, trail mix, some ramen and call it good. But for this special season, we hope you feel inspired to pack in a little extra weight (to keep a little extra off) and indulge in some holiday feasting and festivities chez-mother nature. Being gathered around the warmth of a fire inspires storytelling and memory sharing much the same way as being gathered around the family table.

Written by Hailey Moore for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Anne Worner

With the right strategy, hammock campers can sleep comfortably during cold winter nights.

They call it "cold butt syndrome." When you sleep in a hammock, the parts of your body that press against the fabric get cold because they’re more susceptible to the wind.

If you camp in a hammock in winter, you need to take extra steps to stay warm. Leaning on our own experience, as well as advice from hammock manufacturers, we’ve come up with seven solid tips to help you stay toasty in your hammock.

Seek Natural Shelter & Consider the Wind

As you set up your hammock, a main goal is to deal with potential wind. So, note the direction of the wind and take advantage of natural windbreaks, like hills, rock formations, and trees. Instead of hanging your hammock in an area that’s relatively open, move to a cluster of trees and take advantage of their natural sheltering effect. You could also consider hanging a tarp between two trees as an extra layer of protection.

An alternative to an under quilt is an under pad.


Use Quilts to Stay Warm

To help trap heat and block the wind, use an under quilt, which is an insulated blanket that you string up beneath your hammock. This creates a layer of air between the quilt and the hammock, so heat is trapped to provide more insulation. You’ll be warmer if you deploy an under quilt, rather than just using a sleeping bag inside your hammock. In a hammock, the insulation in a sleeping bag gets compressed and loses its ability to trap heat.

While a sleeping bag will still do a good job of insulating the top of your body, many hammock campers forego a bag and instead use a top quilt that’s made specifically for a hammock. Typically, top quilts are light and compressible, so they’re easy to carry into the backcountry.

Use a Sleeping Pad

An alternative to an under quilt is an under pad, which you place beneath you inside the hammock. You can use a standard foam or inflatable sleeping pad, but be aware that these can slip and even slide out of the hammock as you move around while sleeping. Some hammocks have an inner compartment that holds a foam or inflatable sleeping pad and prevents the pad from shifting.

Another option is to invest in a pad made specifically for a hammock. These not only have side sections that fold to conform to a hammock, but some also feature materials that reflects your body heat. You can also find sleeves that slip over a pad and have reflective materials to help you retain heat.

Rig a tarp above your hammock to protect you from the elements.

Buddy Lindsey

Rig a Tarp Above the Hammock

If you rig a tarp above your hammock, it can block wind, rain, and snow, and also trap heat. Keep in mind that it’s best to place the tarp as low as possible. Once you’ve attached the tarp to a spot on the tree just above your hammock straps, pull the tarp corners as low as possible and secure them. On the market you’ll find a wide variety of rainfly and tarps from several hammock manufacturers.

Rest Your Head on a Pillow

To stay warm in winter, you should prevent your skin from pressing against the hammock fabric as much as possible. So, pack a travel pillow, and also cover your neck and shoulders as you sleep.

Layer Your Clothing

It’s a good idea to wear many layers when you camp in winter, even when you’re using a hammock. This will allow you to regulate your temperature to keep from getting too hot or too cold. With a little practice, you’ll even learn to add and remove clothes without leaving the cozy confines of your hammock.

It’s wise to keep extra clothing inside your hammock at all times so it stays warm and readily available. Also, be sure to remove snow from your clothing before you get into your hammock. While this might sound obvious, it can make a big difference in keeping you dry and warm.

Stash a Hot Water Bottle

Here’s a trick hangers have used for years—fill an insulated water bottle with boiling water before you go to bed and stash it near your feet. This will help warm your whole body during the night.

Written by Marcus Woolf for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Andy McLemore

Dawn patrol is the practice of heading out before sunrise and beginning the day with a paddle, run, ski, hike, or whatever form of outdoor adventure you most crave. Crawling out of bed into the cold and making your way to the trailhead in darkness requires deep motivation, commitment and prior planning—but the payoff is enormous. So set the alarm, ready your things the night before, and see for yourself how dawn patrol sets the stage for a fulfilling and invigorating lifestyle. Here are ten reasons for Asheville explorers to head for the hills before daybreak.

1. You Don’t Have to Travel Far

One of Asheville’s greatest assets is its proximity to the wilderness. Your morning mission could take you as far away as Cataloochee Ski Area , or as nearby as Richmond Hill Park. Ease yourself into the realm of dawn patrol with a sunrise run on the Greenway, and work your way up to a trail run at  Bent Creek  or an illuminated ride at Pisgah . When the Blue Ridge Parkway is shut down in the winter, it creates a beautiful track of clean snow, 469 miles long, for hiking and cross-country skiing. Whatever gets your heart beating and fills your lungs with fresh air makes a suitable morning conquest.

2. Achieve the Coveted Work/Life Balance

Asheville sparkles in predawn light.
Asheville sparkles in predawn light.


Achieving a healthy work/life balance is very possible in a small city such as Asheville. When your life is partly defined by outdoor adventure, however, the limited daylight of winter does present a challenge. Practicing alarm-clock discipline, arming yourself with warm layers and a headlamp, and fearlessly facing the predawn darkness will allow you to infuse each and every day with outdoor endeavors, before you even clock in.

3. Appreciate the Comforts of the Office

There’s nothing like the coming in from the cold to help you appreciate the everyday luxuries we so often take for granted. Those first few lungfuls of frigid mountain air might feel harsh, but dawn patrol will help you revel in the comforts of office life as you never have before: placid temperatures, hot water, your lumbar-supporting office chair. Even that brown-bag lunch you brought from home will be a source of gleeful anticipation to your super-stoked appetite.

4. Catch a Blue Ridge Sunrise

The sun rises over Graveyard Fields, a popular hiking destination along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The sun rises over Graveyard Fields, a popular hiking destination along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Jenn Deane

Greeting the dawn is one of the healthiest rituals you can incorporate into your life, and the ethereal Blue Ridge Mountain range puts on a truly spectacular sunrise. Catch the show from Mt. Mitchell State Park , Sam's Knob , the Blue Ridge Parkway, or any place where you can glimpse those first rays. The tranquility, awe, and invigoration that you experience will fuel you straight through your 9-5.

5. Shoot Stunning Photos

Perfecting the camera settings to catch those elusive moments of daybreak.
Perfecting the camera settings to catch those elusive moments of daybreak.

Matt Paish

Western Carolina is photogenic. But Western Carolina at sunrise is really, really photogenic. Dawn patrol can yield some breathtaking captures: silhouettes and sun rays, the delicate colors of dawn seeping through the forest or brightening the streets, and you, in a glorious selfie, looking burly and alive in the first light of day.

6. Stick to Your Exercise Plan

Experts agree that the most effective way to stick to a workout plan is to exercise first thing in the morning. So while you’re outside, being uplifted by nature and extolling in the many virtues of dawn patrol, you’re turning this healthy practice into part of your daily routine, and upping your chances of meeting your fitness goals.

7. Avoid a Congested Commute

Don’t hit that snooze button: the earlier you’re up and at ’em, the emptier the roads are going to be. Asheville’s growing traffic issues are never as apparent as they are during peak commuting hours. By heading into the hills before dawn, not only will you skip the morning commute, you’ll also save yourself from battling post-work traffic as you try to make it to Bent Creek before nightfall.

8. Coffee in the Mountains…

Coffee in the mountains sure beats the drive-through line at Starbucks.
Coffee in the mountains sure beats the drive-through line at Starbucks.

Martin Cathrae

Coffee tastes better on the side of a mountain, or sipped from a thermos as you stroll alongside the French Broad river. That pleasant caffeinated buzz hits you harder when mixed with fresh air and exercise endorphins. Simply put, dawn patrol coffee is one of life’s most decadent offerings. Enjoy it as often as possible.

9. …Espresso in the City

Enjoy your second round of coffee at one of Asheville's many cafes.
Enjoy your second round of coffee at one of Asheville's many cafes.


You’re back in town and ready to start the work day….but not until you’ve finished a second cup, this one purveyed at one of Asheville’s many artisan coffee shops. From the strong espresso and even stronger hipster scene at High-Five Coffee Bar , to the comforting neighborhood cheer of the West End Bakery  and the spacious, modern vibes at Vortex Donuts, you can find good coffee and grab-and-go breakfast on every street corner. Treat yourself to an espresso and a glazed twist; after all, it’s 9 a.m. and you’ve already earned it.

10. The Breakfast Beer

Once in a while, your morning conquest might just turn into a ”mental health“ day.
Once in a while, your morning conquest might just turn into a ”mental health“ day.

Jay Johnson

If your morning conquest somehow turns into a full blown snow/sick day (who can blame you?) and you find yourself released from the work-day duties, this is the perfect time to try out a “breakfast brew” at one of Asheville’s many breweries. Perk up with a pint of Highland Brewery’s Thunderstruck Coffee Porter, crafted from beans roasted by Dynamite Coffee Roasting, or go all out with a decadent French Toast Stout at  Wicked Weed

Written by Melina Coogan for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Caleb Morris

Summer is coming to an end in the mountains of Western North Carolina. What this means for Asheville residents, aside from the explosion of color and the introduction of cozy favorites like wool sweaters, corduroy pants, warm apple cider, and pumpkin-spiced treats, is a long, healthy list of fall festivities. There's nothing quite like fall in southern Appalachia — when the mountain air turns crisp and cool, the nostalgia returns in overwhelming waves of inexplicable sensation, and the banjos and fiddles slow their pace to something more fitting for the season. The only problem with this time of year is its impermanence. Autumn in Asheville is gone in the blink of an eye. Be sure to embrace the season for as long as you can by visiting these five festivals. There will be plenty of food, folk music, and flowing taps to help you celebrate one of this region's favorite times of year.

1. Brewgrass Festival, Memorial Stadium, Asheville

Brewgrass is an annual beer and bluegrass festival that showcases more than 100 beers from close to 40 American breweries, all to be enjoyed while listening to old-timey bluegrass. Past acts have included Foxfire, Blue Highway, Smoke from the Kitchen, Barry Waldrep, and Lost River Cavemen. Participating breweries include Asheville’s Altamont Brewing Company, Wicked Weed, and Hi-Wire Brewing companies (among others) as well as other North Carolina, Southeastern, and national breweries. Local food vendors will offer plenty of options and there are lots of non-beer beverages for the kids. The festival is free for children under the age of 7. Bring chairs, umbrellas, and backpacks, but no coolers.

2. Nantahala Outdoor Center Guest Appreciation Festival

A different kind of festival, NOC’s GAF, as it’s known, is more of a celebration of savings for gearhounds, with new and used gear going for big discounts, plus there are a lot of family-friendly activities, such as free face-painting, crafts, a raptor show, games, contests, and a bouncy house. There’s food and live music, plus bike trials and a pump track exhibition. Guests and non-profits can also sell their used gear or crafts (to sell more than one piece, you’ll need a vendor permit) and nonprofits can distribute promotional material. Ziplining and rafting are offered at special prices and shuttles are free for those taking part in the Cascades and Upper Nantahala recreational releases.

3. Asheville Oktoberfest

This 21-and-over festival is a great expression of Asheville’s beer culture and general wackiness. The German-inspired Asheville Oktoberfest will feature a lovely mix of Appalachia-infused Bavaria. Think yodeling, polka, traditional German lagers, and seasonal ales all from local and regional breweries in downtown Asheville's South Slope. Put on your lederhosen and enjoy the live German music.

4. LEAF, Black Mountain

The quintessential local festival, LEAF (formerly known as Lake Eden Arts Festival) is held twice a year (once in the fall and once in the spring) and revolves around a full weekend of live music, a crafts fair, camping, and kids’ activities in a gorgeous setting on Lake Eden, at the foot of the Black Mountains. LEAF typically brings in internationally known acts, which in the past have included Robert Randolph & the Family Band as well as Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Local and regional acts such as Rising Appalachia, David Wilcox and David LaMotte have also performed. LEAF is known for its socially conscious vibe, commitment to local nonprofits and family-friendly nature. Camping reservations fill up quickly, so check the LEAF website to see what’s available for a day or weekend pass.

Written by Joanne O'Sullivan for Matcha and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by flattop341


Looking Glass! We have to talk about Looking Glass! It’s located in the Davidson River area of the Pisgah National Forest and is one of the premier, if not the premier, multi-pitch traditional multi-route destinations in the south. It’s a huge, exposed granite dome with many many routes of multiple pitch lengths.

What Makes It Great

Classics include The Nose (5.8), which is extremely popular. There is extensive guide book coverage, and a lot of information in Selected Climbs of North Carolina. It’s about 45minutes to an hour from downtown, and you’re pretty much looking at a full day by virtue of the length of the routes.  

For those only interested in a hike, there’s a really great trail that leads to one of the most majestic views on the east coast. It climbs a steep 1,700 feet in just over three miles, taking hikers along a cascading mountain stream and through tunnels of rhododendron and mountain laurel, before beginning a series of switchbacks up the mountain. The views from the top are well worth the effort though; simply stunning!

Who is Going to Love It

The Looking Glass area has a ton of opportunities for climbers of all abilities. It’s also a great place to just go for a hike!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Parking is pretty obvious, but the thing about Looking Glass is that there are two distinct sides. The road (Hwy 276) splits and branches toward the Pisgah center for wildlife education and the hatchery. Off that branch to the left is Looking Glass south access. Access to the north face is Forest Road 475b. 

Be sure to check in the posted guide books, because sections of the North Face are closed for several months out of the year for peregrine falcon breeding.

Written by Jordan Dowdy for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Jordan Dowdy

Although it feels as if just yesterday we were jumping into swimming holes and running through green mountain trails, somehow the trees are bare, the earth is hard with frost, and the holidays are again upon us.

With this time of year comes the ubiquitous reminders to celebrate the season and be thankful. And although our gratitude is never limited to just one season, those of us lucky enough to live in Western Carolina—encompassed by the beauty of the Blue Ridge and afloat on an endless variety of microbrews—should take this time as an opportunity to slow down and appreciate all that we have at our fingertips. Here are six wild and adventurous reasons to be thankful that we live in Western Carolina.

1. The Highest Highs

Sunrise at Mt. Mitchell.
Sunrise at Mt. Mitchell.

Kolin Toney

So we’re all aware that we live just 19 miles northeast of Mt. Mitchell , the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. But how often do we stop to consider how truly awesome it is to be able to stand on the observation deck, 6,684 feet above sea level and bask in the assurance that everyone on the East Coast is below us? How surreal it is that we can sit and enjoy a picnic atop the very throne of eastern North America? Then we ride back into town for coffee, or catch a movie, or continue with our backpacking trip on the Mountains to Sea Trail, knowing that for one moment we stood hundreds of feet above everything and everyone, even those in the highest skyscrapers in New York City.

Mt. Mitchell State was one of America’s very first state parks and it remains one of the most spectacular. It casually encompasses Mt. Craig, the second highest peak on the East Coast, and several other peaks that reach over 6,000 feet. The trail options range from short summit jaunts to challenging ridge-line treks to drive by vistas and the views are sensational.

2. The Lowest Lows

If on Saturday you stood atop the highest point on the East Coast, then why not round out the weekend by spending Sunday exploring the lowest?  The Linville Gorge, the deepest canyon in the east, is an adventurer’s paradise. The Linville Gorge Wilderness is the third largest swath of wilderness in North Carolina and boasts 11,786 acres of hiking, top-roping, multi-pitches, bouldering, backpacking, backcountry camping, swimming holes, extremely difficult whitewater, and phenomenal views.

Catch a sunset at Wiseman’s View, one of the most breathtaking vistas in the Southeast, then be home in time to make dinner and watch a little Netflix before bed. That’s just a typical day for the Ashevillian. If you need just one reason to feel thankful this season, let it be the Linville Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of the East,” just over an hour away.

3. You Never Have to Leave

A winter ride through Richmond Hill City Park.
A winter ride through Richmond Hill City Park.

Melina Coogan

Those of us who live in the mountains of Western Carolina never need to know the agony of the glacial, day-by-day countdown toward that one coveted vacation each year, nor the bleak return to work after your one week of freedom has passed. There are swimming holes in the summer. Foliage in the autumn. Skiing (and paddling, and bouldering) in the winter. Hiking in the spring . Asheville is a year-round vacation destination for those inclined toward joyful pursuits in the wilderness.

Certainly we have our share of dreary February days, but if you know where to look for it, there’s never a shortage of adventure. Why plan a pricey tropical trip when the rivers are pumping, the mountains are sparkling in white and the cold holds at Rumbling Bald are grippy as ever? And if you do find yourself in need of a weekend away, just hop in the car and drive an hour to these nearby adventurous vacation towns, or burrow away in a farm cabin or country cottage for a few nights.

4. Variety

If variety is the spice of life then Asheville has a five-star rating. We can barely keep track of all our ranks, ratings and raves. Singletrack.com calls Asheville “A Beer Town with a Mountainbike Problem,” while  Outside  magazine voted us one of “America’s Best River Towns,” and look, there we are included in Yoga Journal’s “Top 10 most Yoga Friendly Cities in the Country!”

Start your day with a brisk trail run through Bent Creek, sneak in a little afternoon SUP on your lunch break and hit the nearby boulders for a post-work session. As for weekends, the broad range of adventurous opportunities is simply overwhelming, whether you’re hoping fora relaxing float and a casual loop at Tsali, or the white-knuckled gory glory of Kitsuma singletrackor the off-the charts pucker factor of the Green River Narrows.

This Holiday season, every time we see yet another Subaru Outback loaded down with a creek boat and a mountain bike, the trunk overflowing with ropes and harnesses, let’s be take a moment to be grateful that as adventure loving "multi-potentialites" in Western Carolina, we can have it all.

5. Our Commute is in a National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway in Autumn.
The Blue Ridge Parkway in Autumn.

Brian Leon

There’s nothing quite so frustrating as being trapped in traffic on the way out to the mountains. The irony of being stuck in gridlock when you’re trying to get off the grid is enough to make some city dwellers forgo their weekend plans all together. Asheville is the biggest city in Western Carolina and, sure, we see a bit of stop-and-go at rush hour. But we never have to wallow in traffic too long. In fact, many of our favorite outdoor destinations are found alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s longest national park. Orbitz Travel blog ranked taking a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway as number one on their list of “Seven Things You Absolutely Must Try in a National Park.” No big deal, that’s just our daily commute.

6. Romance

It doesn't get more romantic than Black Balsam Knob.
It doesn't get more romantic than Black Balsam Knob.

Melina Coogan

Can we all take a moment and be grateful of how completely effortless it is to find wild and adventurous romance in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Nothing is more beautiful than watching the morning mist rise over the Shining Rock Wilderness, or viewing the lights of the city from Elk Mountain. There’s no quarrel that can’t be cured by sharing a sunset somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, no deal that can’t be sealed by a box of French Broad Chocolate Truffles and a picnic at Max Patch. From active dates in the great outdoors to funky neighborhoods filled with breweries, love is always in the air in Western Carolina. Love and gratitude—the two essential ingredients to a life well-lived.

Written by Melina Coogan for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Melina Coogan

Across Great Smoky Mountains National Park, miles of interconnected trails meander through lush, green valleys, hug the banks of moss-laden, rocky creeks, and climb through thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron to the blue-tinged mountain peaks.

You could spend weeks backpacking through this rich landscape, but a weekend trip will also allow you to experience the best of the Smokies. To help you plan your visit, we’ve highlighted three backpacking loops that give you the Appalachian Trail, streamside and ridgeline campsites, killer views, and enough distance and elevation to satisfy your inner weekend warrior.

Big Creek Loop

Combining the best of frontcountry and backcountry camping, the Big Creek area on the northeastern tip of the park off I-40 offers something for every level of hiker. Tackle a 21.5-mile loop over big peaks or lower your mileage and elevation with a night at one of the sweetest creekside campsites in the park. Either way, you’ll hike the AT through some of the most scenic terrain in the Smokies.

You will be in constant awe of the beauty on Big Creek Loop.


Roll into Big Creek Friday night to enjoy campground amenities like restrooms, dinner at a picnic table, and campsites with fire rings. You’ll be up early on Saturday to climb the Chestnut Branch Trail 2 miles to the Appalachian Trail. One of the shortest AT access points, the trail passes the remains of homesteads that pre-date the national park.

Turn south on the AT and continue climbing 3.3 miles to the 0.6-mile Mt. Cammerer fire tower spur trail. At 4,928 feet, the tower overlooks the Pigeon River Gorge to the north and Mt. Sterling to the south. From the fire tower, it’s a moderate descent 2.1 miles to the Low Gap Trail. Take Low Gap 2.5 miles to campsite #37 at the Big Creek Trail junction. Right on the banks of Big Creek, you’d be hard pressed to find a more spacious backcountry site in the park.

On Sunday, you can go big or go home, as they say. Going big means a hike up the Swallow Falls Trail 4 miles to the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail. It’s another 1.4 miles and more climbing to an elevation of 5,842 feet on Mt. Sterling. Climb Sterling’s 60-foot steel fire tower for panoramic views of Cataloochee Valley, the Black Mountains, and the Southern Appalachians. Now, the downhill endurance test begins, with a 4,000-foot elevation loss over 6 miles on the Baxter Creek Trail. If you opt to go home, you can sleep in, savor your coffee by the campfire, and still have plenty of time to hike the moderate, 5-mile descent along Big Creek back to the campground, passing two stunning waterfalls and plenty of swimming holes along the way.

Big Creek loop ends with a 4,000-foot elevation loss over 6 miles on the Baxter Creek Trail.


Big Creek Campground is open from April through October and makes a great base camp for groups by serving a wide variety of abilities and interests. On your way home, make sure you leave enough time to refuel at Carver’s Apple Orchard in Cosby, Tenn. At Carver’s you can shop for fresh produce at the farmers market, nab awesome treats at an old-time candy shop, and feast at a homestyle restaurant, where the apple fritters are not to be missed.

Twentymile Loop

In the southwest corner of the Smokies you’ll find a lesser-used trailhead that leads to the AT and one of the most scenic balds in the park. From this trailhead, you’ll log 17.6 miles on the way to Gregory Bald, sleeping one night on the AT and camping the other night on the bald.

Start off Friday afternoon at the Twentymile Ranger Station off Highway 28 near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. A non-technical climb takes you 4.5 miles to meet the AT at Sassafras Gap. Campsite #113, at Birch Spring Gap, is less than 1 mile north of the trail junction. If time allows late Friday or early Saturday morning, head south on the AT for 360-degree views at sunset or sunrise from the top of Shuckstack Fire Tower. The historic lookout isn’t regularly maintained, so watch your step on the 200-foot climb to the top.

In the southwest corner of the Smokies you’ll find the lesser-used Twentymile Loop trailhead.

Chris M Morris

You’ll resume your northward journey on the AT, traveling 2 miles over Doe Knob to the next trail junction. Next, take Gregory Bald Trail west a little more than 3 miles to campsite #13 on the bald. Known for spectacular flame azalea blooms each year in mid to late June, the grassy high-elevation meadow offers stunning views of Cades Cove, Fontana Lake, and Clingmans Dome.

On Sunday, make the final 6.3-mile descent to the trailhead on the wide, non-technical Wolf Ridge Trail. Refuel at Fontana Village, just over 6 miles down Highway 28, before heading home. Burgers and brews will hit the spot at Wildwood Grill, while the Mountainview Restaurant highlights seasonal produce, along with fresh, local rainbow trout.

Deep Creek Loop

Along Deep Creek loop you’ll pass Indian Creek Falls.

Alan Cressler

Enjoy the streams and waterfalls of the Deep Creek area in the south-central region of the Smokies on this 28.2-mile loop. You’ll also spend a night in an AT shelter and exit on one of the longest continuously descending trails in the Smokies.

You’ve barely left the Deep Creek Ranger Station before you come across Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls. Once you pass these Instagram-worthy stops, it’s a slight uphill grade for 4 miles along the moderately rocky Deep Creek Trail to campsites 54-59. Claim a site for Friday evening (note that an advanced reservation is required) to enjoy the refreshing waters of Deep Creek and thickly wooded campsites.

Creek crossings and easy bushwacking are on the agenda Saturday, as you hike another 4 miles to the Fork Ridge Trail. Fork Ridge ascends 5 miles to Clingmans Dome Road and the AT. A short hike north takes you to the Mount Collins shelter, where you’ll spend the night in a high-elevation spruce-fir forest and dramatically cooler, drier conditions. Enjoy the shelter amenities, like cozy bunks and a fireplace inside.

Hike down from Clingmans Dome Road to start your final 11.4-mile descent.

Kevin Stewart Photography

The pre-dawn hike south to Clingmans Dome is highly recommended for 360 degrees of sunrise from the highest point in the Smokies. Hike 2 miles down Clingmans Dome Road to the Noland Divide Trailhead to start your final 11.4-mile descent. The trail slopes gently for the first 5 miles before making a steeper drop into Deep Creek, but there are few roots and rocks to slow you down. Make sure you stop to enjoy the views at Lonesome Pine Overlook along the way.

After logging all those miles, nothing’s going to taste more satisfying than a meal and craft beer at The Warehouse at Nantahala Brewing Co. Wrap up your Smokies adventure on the outdoor patio in downtown Bryson City with specialties like the slow-cooked brisket noodle bowl, apple bourbon pork chops, or Bryson City Brown Ale chicken along with a flagship or seasonal draft.

Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated in partnership with OrthoCarolina and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Kevin Stewart Photography

Winding, twisting, curving and carving through the landscape, the Blue Ridge Parkway travels some of western North Carolina’s most scenic terrain. This 469-mile, all-American road meanders through Asheville, offering access to some exceptional high-elevation views from the overlooks peppered along its path.

But if you’ve only experienced the Parkway for the drive, you’re missing out: scattered along the parkway, trailheads lead to some seriously great hiking and running trails. Grab a hike or trail run to rushing waterfalls, through rolling forest, to lofty summits with see-forever views, and through grassy meadows filled with endless wildflowers and wild berries in the summertime months. Thanks to its already-high elevation, most Blue Ridge Parkway hikes don’t have to venture far – making many of these hikes beginner-hiker-friendly.

The Parkway follows a lofty ridge for much of its drive. Elevations along the road are often much cooler than nearby Asheville, so pack a jacket, even in summertime, and dress in layers to stay comfortable on your hike. And before you go, check the official Blue Ridge Parkway website for road closures, especially in snowy winter months.

Grab your hiking boots (or running shoes), hit the Parkway and get ready for an adventure – and enjoy the spectacular drive to the trailhead, too.

Deep Gap Trail to Mount Craig

Hike the two tallest peaks east of the Mississippi River on the Deep Gap Trail at Mount Mitchell State Park, catching stunning high-altitude views along a ridgeline from Mount Mitchell to Mount Craig and Big Tom Mountain.

Craggy Gardens Trail

It’s a can’t-miss hike just north of Asheville: hike the Craggy Gardens Trail through a beautifully surreal, gnarled forest of rhododendron and blueberries to an idyllic, grassy mountaintop.

Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain Loop

Climb two summits, hike five miles and catch many epic views. This loop hike is one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most scenic, trailing over the grassy bald mountaintops of Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain.

Shining Rock Mountain via the Art Loeb Trail

Hike the Art Loeb Trail from Black Balsam Knob, rolling elevation over grassy, wildflower-covered balds into the Shining Rock Wilderness. The final destination: the summit of Shining Rock, which offers stunning views from enormous, white quartz boulders and rock outcrops.

Linville Gorge: hiking the Plunge Basin Trail

Hike this just-off-Parkway trail to up-close views of the Linville Falls waterfall, trekking to the Plunge Basin Overlook and the floor of Linville Gorge.

Mount Mitchell Summit and Balsam Nature Trail

Hike a two-trail duo to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, and through a gorgeous, shady forest filled with sweet-scented balsam fir.

Graveyard Ridge and Graveyard Fields Loop

Hike a loop at Graveyard Fields, one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most popular hiking destinations, to ridgeline views, two waterfalls and through fields of wildflowers, wild blueberries and blackberries.

Craggy Gardens: Hiking the Craggy Pinnacle Trail

Our favorite Craggy Gardens hike climbs to gorgeous 360-degree views on the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, hiking through a mossy, lush, green forest of gnarly-branched rhododendron.

Art Loeb Trail to Black Balsam Knob

It’s one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s best: hike the Art Loeb Trail to the sun-drenched, grassy summit of Black Balsam Knob, climbing through a forest of sweet-scented black balsam fir.

Linville Falls Trail

Hike to exceptional views of some of the best waterfalls near Asheville, trekking to three overlooks with views of upper and lower Linville Falls and some beautiful views into Linville Gorge.

Sam Knob Trail

Hike the Sam Knob Trail to some exceptional summit views, trekking through a wide, open meadow filled with wildflowers, from a trailhead off the Parkway near Black Balsam Knob.

Skinny Dip Falls Trail

Hike to a popular summertime swimming hole south of Asheville, where a multi-tiered waterfall spills into deep, crystal-clear pools in a beautiful, shady cove at Skinny Dip Falls.

Mt Pisgah Trail

It’s a moderately difficult climb, but the views are well worth the effort: hike to the Mount Pisgah summit south of Asheville to catch some stunning long-range views.

Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail

Just south of Mount Pisgah, the Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail summits a mountain and climbs a historic steel fire tower, catching some stunning 360-degree panoramas.

Devil’s Courthouse Trail

It’s a short climb from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but so worth the effort. Hike to the towering, jagged Devil’s Courthouse summit through a beautiful high-elevation forest to catch some stunning summit views from the top.

Graveyard Fields Trail

Two waterfalls, beautiful views from the trailhead and miles and miles of rolling terrain filled with wild blueberries and blackberries: it’s no wonder that the Graveyard Fields Trail is one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most popular hikes.

Written by Eric Champlin for Asheville Trails and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Asheville Trails


Art Loeb was a man who “deeply loved these mountains.” If you travel to the highest point on the trail bearing his namesake you will see a weathered plaque commemorating these words. On a clear day, from this high point, you will also see picturesque, long-range Appalachian views in all directions. The 30.1 mile trail takes you through the wonders of the Pisgah National Forest before traversing the iconic crest of the Great Balsam Mountains to the crown jewel of the Shining Rock Wilderness. Easy access to both end points, multiple campsites, two shelters, plentiful water and epic views make the Art Loeb a must do on the life list of all Appalachian hikers.

What Makes It Great

This acclaimed trail connects the Davidson River Campground in Brevard to Camp Daniel Boone in Haywood County, NC. The Pisgah National Forest divides the Art Loeb Trail into four sections. The trail’s southern terminus can be found off of highway 276 on the Davidson River Campground Access Road. The first section of trail begins here and takes you to Gloucester Gap. Highlights along this section of trail include an up close view of Cedar Rock and a shelter at Butter Gap. 

From Gloucester Gap hikers begin their climb upwards towards the crest of the Pisgah Ledge. If you are a glutton for punishment you will enjoy every steep step up Pilot Mountain. Eventually you will reach the top and a grand reward, paid with awe-inspiring views, lies on the narrow summit ridge of Pilot Mountain. After you descend the backside of Pilot rest your weary legs and quench your thirst at the Deep Gap shelter. The trail continues upwards, crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway, and ascends a series of steep switchbacks to finally gain the ridge line, and briefly merge with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Once atop the ridge line, a traverse along a pathway cut through a coniferous forest, which lines the airy edge of the Pisgah Ledge, leads hikers to Black Balsam Knob.

Section 3, the reward for your massive uphill climb, starts here. A majestic chain of Appalachian Balds reveals itself atop the summit of Black Balsam. Your next 5 miles of trail will take you up and over a string of lush peaks with panoramic views in every direction. If you goal is a through hike we recommend a campsite within this section of trail. Chances are you will be rewarded with a heavenly sunrise or sunset, and a close up view of starry skies. Shining Rock stands tall and shimmering at the end of the this string of Balds. Quartzite cliffs on Shining Rock’s summit allow some incredibly fun scrambles onto exposed sections with long range views. Shining Rock gap has access to water and rhododendron-canopied camp sites perfect for tents and hammocks.  From Shining Rock the trail crosses a section known as “The Narrows” on its way to Deep Gap, another aptly named, Deep Gap in the ridge line. At Deep Gap a spur trail on your right leads to the summit of Cold Mountain, made famous by a book of the same name. 

The fourth section of trail (3.8 miles) descends steadily along the flanks of Cold Mountain towards the Camp Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp and the northern terminus of The Art Loeb trail. Trailhead information and parking for a shuttle vehicle are available here as well as a lovely creek to cool off in after a completed thru hike.

Who is Going to Love It

Whether you are practicing for a longer trail or rekindling your love for backpacking The Art Loeb Trail is the perfect choice for a 3-4 day trip. Both trailheads are easily accessible and the Blue Ridge Parkway bisects the trail making for easy shuttle and resupply opportunities.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the trail website: “Starting at the Davidson River near the Davidson River Campground, near Brevard, NC, Section 1 of the trail climbs Shut-In Ridge and travels generally west-southwest.”

Written by Steven Reinhold for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Steven Reinhold

The rolling, mountainous terrain of western North Carolina near Asheville is simply gorgeous. Tree-covered mountain summits and grassy balds fill the horizon. And deep cut river valleys and gorges slice through the landscape, spilling and tumbling and diving in scores of majestic waterfalls.

When river meets towering rock, something seemingly magical happens, as water begins to tumble and spill into a pool below. Waterfalls are simply beautiful. They’re strikingly photo-worthy. And those tumbling tendrils of water somehow stir remarkable emotion in the soul.

In Asheville’s mountainous and river-filled terrain, waterfalls are plentiful: there’s no shortage of great waterfall hikes to be found near the city. We’ve hiked many, exploring the area’s towering and thundering falls to the more gentle cascades set in stunningly beautiful forest. With so many amazing falls, it was tough to choose ten, but we’ve carefully hand-picked our favorites, all under a two hour drive from the metro Asheville area. Pack a picnic and hit the road: it’s time to chase some classically gorgeous North Carolina waterfalls.

Hike the Rainbow Falls Trail at Gorges State Park.
Hike the Rainbow Falls Trail at Gorges State Park.

Asheville Trails

1.Rainbow Falls Trail

Rainbow Falls is a stunner, tumbling down over a towering, 150-foot cliff in a single, dramatic drop. Hike theRainbow Falls Trail from Gorges State Park near Cashiers, NC to a series of spilling falls on the Horsepasture River and abundant summertime wildflowers.

Hike DuPont State Forest to Triple Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls.
Hike DuPont State Forest to Triple Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls.

Asheville Trails
  1. Triple Falls, Hooker Falls & High Falls

Three incredibly beautiful waterfalls, in less than five miles: it’s a falls-filled adventure. Hike a three-trail combo at DuPont State Forest near Brevard tothree of western North Carolina’s most beautiful and popular waterfalls.

Hike to the Linville Falls waterfalls at Linville Gorge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hike to the Linville Falls waterfalls at Linville Gorge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville Trails

3.Linville Falls Trail

The Linville River makes a dramatic entrance into Linville Gorge, spilling down through a steep-walled rocky wonderland in a multi-tiered waterfall. Hike theLinville Falls Trail to three overlooks of the falls, or the nearbyPlunge Basin Trail to an up-close view of the waterfall on the gorge floor.

Hike the High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville near Cashiers, NC to a stunning double-drop waterfall.
Hike the High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville near Cashiers, NC to a stunning double-drop waterfall.

Asheville Trails

4.High Falls Trail at Lake Glenville

Drop from the shores of Lake Glenville through a lush, green forest into a steep-walled gorge on theHigh Falls Trail, catching views of High Falls as it tumbles in a double-tiered waterfall.

Hike to the Graveyard Fields waterfalls off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hike to the Graveyard Fields waterfalls off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville Trails

5.Graveyard Fields Waterfalls Trail

Graveyard Fields, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, is a land of rolling meadows filled with wildflowers, wild blueberries and blackberries, and stunning waterfalls. Hike a relatively easy 3-miler on theGraveyard Fields Trail to the upper and lower waterfalls, and trek through some incredibly beautiful terrain.

Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to this multi-tiered waterfall and popular summertime swimming hole.
Hike the Skinny Dip Falls Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to this multi-tiered waterfall and popular summertime swimming hole.

Asheville Trails

6.Skinny Dip Falls Trail

Hike toSkinny Dip Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall that cascades into deep pools of crystal clear, chilly water. Framed in steep, angled rock and rhododendron, the falls are gorgeous, and it’s one of the most popular summertime swimming holes near Asheville.

Hike to Dry Falls, a towering walk-behind waterfall near Highlands.
Hike to Dry Falls, a towering walk-behind waterfall near Highlands.

Asheville Trails

7.Dry Falls Trail

At barely a quarter mile, roundtrip, it’s more of a roadside attraction than our typical definition of a hike. But it’s really, incredibly beautiful. TheDry Falls Trail wraps behind the 65′ waterfall, offering a unique behind-the-falls waterfall view.

Hike to Moore Cove Falls, a 50-foot waterfall that spills into a beautiful, forested cove near Brevard, NC.
Hike to Moore Cove Falls, a 50-foot waterfall that spills into a beautiful, forested cove near Brevard, NC.

Asheville Trails

8.Moore Cove Falls Trail

Between Brevard, NC and the Blue Ridge Parkway,Moore Cove Falls tumbles dramatically in a single sheet from a tall rock outcrop in a beautifully forested cove. It’s a great, family-friendly hike nearLooking Glass Falls.

Hike to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, near Cashiers.
Hike to Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, near Cashiers.

Asheville Trails

9.Whitewater Falls Trail

At just over a half mile, roundtrip, this hike packs a ton of scenic beauty into a short stretch of trail. Hike to two overlooks on theWhitewater Falls Trail to catch views of upper Whitewater Falls as it tumbles and cascades more than 400 feet, the highest waterfall in North Carolina.

Hike the Catawba Falls Trail near Old Fort, east of Asheville, through a waterfall-filled river valley.
Hike the Catawba Falls Trail near Old Fort, east of Asheville, through a waterfall-filled river valley.

Asheville Trails

10.Catawba Falls Trail

One of ourfavorite waterfall hikes near Asheville, the Catawba Falls Trail crosses several shallow river fords and treks through a waterfall-filled, shady valley to a century-old hydroelectric dam and several exceptionally beautiful waterfalls.

**Waterfall photography

Love taking waterfall photos, but struggle to get that great, wispy whitewater look? You’ll need to increase your camera’s exposure time, so your camera doesn’t freeze the action and suspend the waterfall’s water droplets in mid-air.

Mount your DSLR, mirrorless camera or point-and-shoot camera with exposure controls on a sturdy, lightweight tripod. Hike to a waterfall. Frame the waterfall in your viewfinder, switch to aperture priority mode, and then set a small aperture (f/16, f/22 or smaller) and a low ISO (100). This will help force your camera into a longer exposure, slowing waterfall to a blur, and the tripod will keep the other landscape details crisp.

For the best results, don’t shoot mid-day, or on sunny days. Shooting on cloudy days, at dawn or dusk, or adding a polarizing filter or neutral density filter to your lens will reduce the amount of available light, slowing the shutter speed and increasing the wispy-water effect.

**Waterfall hiking: safety

Hike safely: since the rocks surrounding a waterfall are often wet, they’re usually slippery too, so don’t climb, swim or hike on, around or over a waterfall. Falls can be fatal. And the best time to hike is usually not after a recent rain: a high-volume waterfall can be dangerous (and when raging, usually loses some of its magical, photo-worthy beauty).

Please help preserve North Carolina’s exceptional outdoor beauty. Pack out everything you pack in, and leave no trace. And don’t drink the water, as cool and refreshing as it may look: rivers and streams may may contain harmful bacteria and parasites. Some water sources may be safely filtered.

Written by Eric Champlin for Asheville Trails and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Asheville Trails