2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina, and we're celebrating by showcasing a different Featured Hike each week. If you'd like to hike with us on one of the Featured Hikes, head to our Trips Calendar and book a private hike!

Laurel River Trail (Hot Springs, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Laurel River Trailhead near Hot Springs, NC

One of our favorite summer hiking spots is the Laurel River Trail, just north of Asheville in Madison County.  The trail parallels Big Laurel Creek from near the intersection of highways 25 and 70 to where the creek empties into the French Broad River, 3.5 miles in length (7 miles round trip).  This hike is easy on a wide, well-graded trail.  The first mile or so crosses through private property, so it is important to stay on the trail in this area.  Once you’re on National Forest land, there are plenty of spots to sit by the river, enjoy a picnic, or even go for a swim (though please do so with caution - this is a popular destination for whitewater paddlers after heavy rain!).

We offer this as a guided hike!  It's a chill Full Day or Half Day, perfect for families or anyone avoiding a lot of elevation gain.

Check out the recent feature from Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide including the Laurel River Trail.

Boogerman Loop (Cataloochee Valley, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Cataloochee Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of my personal favorite hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Boogerman Loop is a beautiful low elevation hike.  It starts in Cataloochee Valley, where visitors can still walk through historic buildings from the settlement that once called this valley home.  The hike itself is a moderately challenging 7.5-mile loop connecting the Boogerman Trail and Caldwell Fork Trail, through old growth forests filled with wildflowers and mushrooms.  This hike is notable for its 10+ un-bridged creek crossings - a great hike in the summer if you don’t mind getting your feet wet, but a challenge in cooler months because of the cold water.  I have two notes of caution on this hike.  First, Cataloochee Valley is home to one of the Park’s elk herds; please keep your distance from these large animals.  And second, this hike’s numerous creek crossings are up to knee deep at normal summer water levels; if we’ve recently had rain, please avoid this hike!

We offer this as a guided hike!  It's well suited for more adventurous hikers as a Full Day Hike, or can be integrated into a backpacking loop.

Mt Mitchell Loop (Burnsville, NC)

Primary Trailhead: Mount Mitchell State Park - Restaurant Parking Lot

If you want to transport yourself to another world without leaving Western NC, Mt Mitchell is the place to do it!  Mt Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, and is home to spruce fir forests that aren’t found anywhere else south of Canada.  This hike is strenuous, requiring the use of fixed ropes in a couple places.  It is rocky and often wet, and can be 20 degrees cooler than temperatures in Asheville.  Don’t let all that scare you away though, this forest is magical!  My favorite loop starts at the restaurant, hikes up the Old Mitchell Trail to the summit, loops to the visitor center via Commissary Trail, and finally returns to the restaurant via the Old Mitchell Trail for a total of 5.5 miles.  If you’re lucky enough to get views from the summit, it's a fabulous view, but this hike won’t be a disappointment without it.

We offer this as a guided hike!  It's well suited for more adventurous hikers as a Half or Full Day Hike, or can be integrated into a backpacking loop.