The warm temperatures have returned, the flowers are blooming, and the smells of spring are in the air; it’s time to explore the wild beauty of North Carolina. From the coast to the mountains, and the gorgeous river valleys in between, the Old North State has an adventure hiding in every corner. There are thousands of miles to hike, bike and explore, but there are a few special spots that can’t be missed.
Two hours outside the concrete jungle of Charlotte, the Linville Gorge Wilderness grants nature lovers access to one of the east’s most scenic wilderness regions. Here you’ll find 39 miles of trails dotted with stunning waterfalls, amazing forest, and panoramic views along rocky ridge lines. The Linville Gorge Wilderness has numerous hikes for all levels making it the ultimate weekend destination.
For families looking for an easy day hike, or those looking for a short nature walk, Linville Falls should be at the top of your list. What makes Linville stand out isn’t just the forests and waterfalls, but rather its ridges and views from the higher elevation. Or, if you’re hoping to be rewarded for your wanderlust by scenic vistas, then hike to the summit of Table Rock Mountain. With jaw dropping 360 degree views, this is where you go to feel alive.
Linville Gorge is also one of the Southeast’s premier destinations for rock climbing. The area has challenging routes for every level of climber and great exposure which will keep even the most fearless leaders on their toes. Moderate climbers need to check out the Amphitheatre, while hardcore folks need to hit up Hawksbill and Shortoff.
Mountain Biking is also very popular in North Carolina, with riders from around the world flocking to the region for the great singletrack found in nearly every city. There are three areas that offer world-class mountain biking, so, grab your Osprey Viper or Verve, fill that hydration pack, and get riding.
Close to Charlotte, Lake Norman State Park raises the stoke factor for beginners and advanced riders with its 17.5 miles of singletrack routes. Further from town, the Pisgah National Forest will leave you in awe of its beauty and amazing singletrack. Finally, the Mills River region is tough to beat, giving serious bikers an amazing ride on the Laurel Mountain Trail. If you love the idea of riding 14 miles of inclines on mountains and descents though forests and gullies, you need to ride here this weekend. Also nearby is the Fletcher Canyon Trail, which is a half the distance and elevation of Laurel Mountain and lets you crush a fast downhill singletrack trail through lush forests and open fields.
Thru-Hiking is yet another activity that puts North Carolina at the forefront of East Coast outdoor adventure. While many thru-hikers see North Carolina along the Appalachian Trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is where the true beauty of the state is discovered. This 962-mile trail stretches from the tallest peak east of the Mississippi to the sandy shores of the outer banks. It climbs the tallest mountain on the East Coast, winds through 37 counties, crosses through three national parks and two wildlife refuges, and finally deposits you at the highest sand dune in the eastern United States. This is the ultimate trail in the Tarheel State, and there is absolutely no better thru-hike to get to know North Carolina than this one.
Thru-hikers should rock an Osprey Atmos pack, since they are known for being comfortable, stylish and the best-designed packs around. You don’t have to hike the whole trail though. If you just want to zoom around and hit the best sights on a day hike, put on your Osprey Skarab pack and explore small sections at a time instead.
As always, before you head out, make sure you have a plan and the right gear to get you started. By heading to an outdoor store with a reputation as good as Great Outdoor Provisions, you are going to get the best gear and the best advice for the best price. Whether you are a gear head or just someone looking into getting their wilderness discovery started, the staff at Great Outdoor Provisions has over four decades of experience getting you and your family outdoors. With nine locations around the region, this Osprey Backpack dealer needs to be your first stop before hitting the local natural wonders.