Mid March Hiking Locations

8:56 p.m. on January 20, 2009 (EST)
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My friends and I are wanting to do a 3 day excursion hike somewhere in the U.S. for our senior year spring break. We are wondering if anyone has any ideas on where we could go. We would prefer somewhere remote, with little snow, warmer weather, and of course mountains.

We would greatly appreciate your thoughts!

Dustin

10:02 p.m. on January 20, 2009 (EST)
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Hi Dustin!

I know of a wonderful place like you seek! Several actually.
Where are you located Dustin? How much hiking experience do you have?

I am in the Southeast, is that too far for you?

In fact, my avatar picture was taken in one of these places.

10:21 p.m. on January 20, 2009 (EST)
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Trouthunter I would love to know about these places that you talk of especially since I only live around 3 hrs from you.

9:14 p.m. on January 23, 2009 (EST)
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Southeast would likely work. We are located in Iowa but are wanting to do some traveling. We have a couple people with little hiking experience coming along. As long as there isn't a need for any rock climbing we should do okay.

So where are these places you speak of?

Dustin

9:30 a.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Hey guys, It will take me a few minutes to list a brief description of each place and post a link to a site for each so you can get up to date info. There will be some editing as I do this, I will post a 'finished' message when I'm done.


J. Dustin, I would highly recommend you guys read up on any place you should decide to visit, get current info including what you should expect in terms of weather for that area, as well as getting a good weather forecast before you leave.

You've probably thought of that already, however a couple of the areas I'll list can and do have significant rainfall at times and although they are very beautiful places visitors should come prepared just in case.

Justin, you stated your friends had little hiking experience, I would highly recommend they get some before venturing out anywhere you must be self reliant, the little things you don't know are the things that can turn a great trip into a miserable one, even a dangerous one. Local hiking clubs are a great place to start hiking with knowledgeable people.

There is a lot of good information on hiking / backpacking on this site, and the many members would be more than happy to answer any question you guys may have, like what gear to get or not get.
Read 'The Ten Essentials' if you guys have not done so already. No matter where you go you will need to practice the 'Leave No Trace' principles as well.
If I'm telling you stuff you already know I apologize, I just want you to have a great time and we all need to work together to keep our special places pristine and untouched.

The region I backpack in is The Southern Appalachian Mountains. The S APPS. are made up of several different mountain ranges & geographic locations. The terrain ranges from easy to very steep and rugged.
There are numerous State Parks with both front country (car camping) and back country primitive camping with well maintained trails and roads. There will be some fees and a lot of rules in these areas. I'm not against the rules, most are just common sense anyway, but your activities will be limited to their rules. These parks see a lot of visitors and strict rules keep everyone safe.

Then there are my type of places, State Wilderness areas (SNA's), Pocket Wilderness areas (PWA's) and other such terms.
These areas are free use areas. There are no fees, just park at one of the trail heads, read the signboard if there is one and fill out a paper slip with your name, date of departure and such, drop in box and start hiking.
Be aware that in these places there is usually no staff to assist you in any way, you MUST be self reliant.
The reward however is that these places hold the most pristine, wild areas. You get a sense that you went back in time. In some areas you will be the only ones there, in others you will encounter other groups of hikers on the trails at times. But for the most part solitude can be had in these places.
There are LOTS of streams and waterfalls in the S. APPS as well as a very wide diversity of plant and animal life.
Some of our plants do not grow any where else in the world.

But I digress, you can read about that on your own if you wish.
Here are some places to consider.

North Chickamauga Creek Gorge!! Very rewarding but you need some experience under your belt first, there are no Rangers or staff here.
One of my favorite places located on the Cumberland Plateau Escarpment.
8 mile trail, moderate terrain with a couple difficult ascents/descents but not bad if you take your time and pace yourself.
Hike in halfway up the mountain side with many views of the river gorge, take a break halfway at the old coal mines, and finally a steep descent to a great campsite beside a 75' cliff located between a waterfall (Stevenson Branch), and Chikamauga Creek, which can get quite dangerous after a day of rain, this creek drains a LOT of plateau area from above. Here is a link:
http://www.tennessee.gov/environment/na/natareas/northchick/

Savage Gulf, like a little grand canyon with a great trail system!
You can hike to one of several campsites or to Hobbs Cabin. Then go day (or night) hiking on the many trails both short and long. Some trails are on top of the plateau with GREAT VIEWS of the canyon, and some trails are in the canyon floor along creeks and waterfalls.
This area has Park Rangers who can assist you with any questions you may have and provide you with a nice overview of the area along with a very detailed trail map.
Nice area and a good choice for those who wish to visit a cool place but do not wish to find themselves in a remote area with no help available. This place is also about as close to Iowa as any I have been to myself.
Check out this link and be sure to click on the VISITOR tab at the top which will have a drop down list for maps, pictures, and weather info.
http://www.friendsofscsra.org/aboutthepark.htm

Cherokee National forest!! Absolutely gorgeous area! Mountains, lakes, streams, & waterfalls, and of course our famous smokey mountain smoke. Water vapor actually, mostly in early morning and nightfall, but can last all day and can get quite thick at times. This is a huge area with both a southern and northern section separated by the Great Smokey Mountains State Park (GSMSP).
I would recommend the southern section. This is a fee & permit area but well worth it. There are paved roads to take you to different areas of the park, you then find the trail you want from the trail guide they give you, park your vehicle in the parking area for that trail, and head out on foot. There are Rangers here that are very helpful!
Here is the official site, however it does not do this area justice, I would recommend you google images of the area.
http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/cherokee/recreation/

Nantahala National Forest, one of my favorite large river gorges. Nantahala means "Land of the noonday sun" in the Cherokee language. I would recommend hiking in the actual river gorge itself which is a very lush and fertile gorge with numerous waterfalls and feeder creeks. Very nice overlooks are available from the trails as you start out at the top of the gorge. Some of the terrain is steep and rugged, but you can pick which trails you are interested in from the trail guide you will receive there. There are fees and rules here but seclusion is not a problem. Here is a site with good info, you can see the "smoke" on the mountains in the picture on the home page.
http://www.nantahalawilderness.com/

I would also recommend you hike the short Pickens Nose trail in Nantahala, here are some pictures and trail info.
http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.emapstore.com/sc_blue_ridge_mountains/Hike/pickensnoseview2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.emapstore.com/sc_blue_ridge_mountains/Hike/pickens_nose_nc.htm&usg=__Qb-rnEe3dVrYdPQczfBjoR-WcfU=&h=337&w=450&sz=52&hl=en&start=13&tbnid=XCNOvEIB3AWNmM:&tbnh=95&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dnantahala%2Bnational%2Bforest%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1B3GGGL_enUS239US240

Last but not least (actually I could do this all day but we have to stop somewhere)
The Blue Ridge Escarpment, also known as "The Blue Wall".
The escarpment is a fairly large area with many trails.
This area is absolutely gorgeous with many sheer cliffs, waterfalls, and overlooks! The terrain ranges from easy to very rugged in the actual escarpment area. Pick a trail with the terrain you want.
The area is considered to be a sub-tropic rain forest and has the rainfall to prove it. Do not venture here without adequate gear!
The escarpment is divided into different areas. The Foothills Trail is one of my favorite trails and follows the Escarpment for 80+ miles.
I would recommend you check out the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area. This area will let you venture out to the escarpment for the many views, but also has several easier trails to adventure on.

12:15 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Mountain Bridge Wilderness is divided into two Parks, Jones Gap & Caesars Head. Caesars Head is up on the Escarpment and Jones Gap covers a watershed area with easier hikes along the many creeks. If you wish to do one of the more strenuous hikes I recommend you make camp first and do it as a day hike.
I would not backpack in on one of these trails unless you are an advanced backpacker. Here is some info, check out the photo link on this site.
http://hikingthecarolinas.com/mountain_bridge_wilderness.php

Justin based on what you have told me, I would recommend either Savage Gulf in TN or Mountain Bridge in SC as being the closest to what you are looking for. These areas would be more user friendly, with a lot of trail guides and other material available to you as you arrive. You can also contact the Ranger Stations for more info.

Ok, I'm done!

12:27 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to write that! I will show all the other guys what you wrote and check out some websites to learn more.

Let you know if we have any other questions!

Dustin

6:13 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Wherever you go, I hope you guys have a blast. Lots of beautiful places to see.
If you are interested in any of the places around the Southern Appalachians I can help you get some info together.
There are many more places around here that I did not list and other members of this site probably have some great recommendations as well.

I have a LOT of good sites bookmarked and I know a good number of people in these areas, so holler if I can help.

Take it easy.

9:29 a.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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I agree about the MBW. The Raven Cliffs Falls loops is one of my favorite Day Hikes.

5:48 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Yes Raven Cliff Falls is worth seeing!

8:58 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Yes Raven Cliff Falls is worth seeing!

I made it up there this past fall just one week late of the peak of the leaves changing but still pretty.

This pic is from the overlook
http://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm104/jmcwatty_2008/DSCF1072.jpg

10:09 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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Nice!
You make me want to go back, I prefer to go to MBW in winter, just because there is less traffic. But it is worth going at anytime IMO.
I wish I had more pics of my trips, for years I didn't take many, I wish I had.

The entire Blue Wall is a special place. I wanted to do the foothills trail again this winter but work has me pinned down.
Oh well, more time to buy gear I guess.

10:43 p.m. on January 26, 2009 (EST)
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I have never been up ther in winter. You have me thinking now though. I need to get out of town if just for a day.

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