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Big Creek Campground

Intro

When we take the time to relax beside the roaring waters of an Appalachian stream, something incredible happens to our psyche. The roaring thunder of the water drowns out all the worries and doubts you carried from “real life.” The continual flow of a mountain stream ignites an innate sense of oneness with our surroundings and reminds us that time marches on.

What Makes It Great

On the Northern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a stream rambles in perpetuity from the balsam covered mountains above until reaching its confluence with the mighty Pigeon River below. The headwaters of this stream are born from some of the highest peaks in the park: Mt. Sterling, Big Cataloochee and Mt. Guyot. As the tributary waters rush down these steep slopes, they are purified by the lush flora of the Smokies before combining their efforts into what is known as Big Creek.

The Big Creek Campground is peacefully located right beside the cool, rushing waters of Big Creek. A total of 12 spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has easily-accessible and well-maintained restrooms that also provide drinking water. All of the sites at Big Creek Campground are considered walk-in, meaning you will have to leave your car in the parking lot and walk a short distance to a tent-only campsite. Each site is conveniently outfitted with a leveled tent pad, charcoal grill, and picnic table. The sites are strikingly beautiful and surprisingly serene considering Big Creek’s popularity.

The true beauty of the Big Creek Campground lies in its location. From the campground parking lot, visitors have easy access to one of the area’s most popular swimming destinations, Midnight Hole, via a 1.5-mile hike up the gently graded Big Creek Trail. Baxter Creek Trail also starts from the parking area and leads to stunning views from the fire tower atop Mt.Sterling. Also within striking distance from the campground is the Chestnut Branch Trail which climbs to the famous lookout tower atop Mt. Cammerer. The bold can take their kayaks down Big Creek and families can enjoy a guided rafting trip on the nearby Pigeon River.

Who is Going to Love It

Adventurers love the location of Big Creek’s Campground for its access to hiking, fishing, and flowing whitewater. However, you don’t have to embark on an epic adventure to enjoy the serenity of this area. Families love the placid picnic settings and creekside accommodations the campground has to offer.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

To reach the Big Creek Campground from Asheville, travel west on Interstate 40 to the North Carolina/Tennessee state line and take the exit 451 for Waterville. Take a left and cross over the Pigeon River via a bridge shared by the Appalachian Trail. Continue on this road until you reach a four-way stop. Go straight through this intersection and follow the signs for Big Creek Campground. Big Creek Ranger Station is located a quarter of a mile past this intersection on the right. Stop here to get more information on the area and a detailed map for a requested $1 donation.

Continue up the road for 1 mile until you reach the parking lot for the Big Creek Campground.

The Campground is open May-October and sites are $14 per night.

Featured image provided by Patrick Mueller

Hiking Max Patch

Intro

The Appalachian Trail follows the crest of the Appalachians along the North Carolina and Tennessee state line. In between the soaring mountains of the Great Smokies and the rolling hills of Hot Springs, the AT passes over the grassy bald known as Max Patch. The man-made meadow on top of the mountain was once home to large herds of grazing cattle. Today, the luscious green summit is home to one of the most acclaimed view-points in the Southeast and the herds have switched from bovine beasts to outdoor enthusiasts. A variety of trails can be used to access Max Patch. The most popular and pedestrian of the choices leads hikers to the grassy summit on a short, half -mile climb to the top.

What Makes It Great

At 4,600 feet, Max Patch is not a particularly high mountain, yet the views from the top are highly acclaimed. The view’s infamy comes from its grass covered summit stage, which offers long range views in every direction. The view is framed to the southwest by the northern giants of the National Park: Mt. Guyot, Mt. Sterling and Big Cataloochee. The Plott and Great Balsam Ranges paint the southeastern skyline while the towering crest of the Black Mountains stands guard to the east and the Roans to the north. The Patch is surrounded by picturesque rolling hills and mountains leading up to these mighty ridge lines in three directions. To the west, however, an uninterrupted view over the lush expanse of Tennessee allows for a famously stunning sunset view.

Several trail options line the sides and summit of Max Path. From the parking lot, visitors can take the direct route to the summit for a 1-mile round trip or the 2.4 miles loop which circumnavigates The PatchThose looking for a prolonged jaunt through the woods can follow the AT north or south as far as their hearts desire.

Who is Going to Love It

Photographers will find life-list photo opportunities atop Max Patch thanks to its ideal location on the western edge of the Appalachians. Bring your tripod along and set up for spectacular stellar and sunset shots. (Looking for more photogenic landscapes?) Romantics can take full advantage of Max Patch’s beauty by packing a blanket and picnic lunch to the easy access summit. Cap off your romantic evening as you return towards Asheville by taking a dip in the dreamy waters of nearby Hot Springs Resort. Anglers, bring your gear and cast a line in the Forest Service pond just past the parking area. The brave even venture to The Patch in winter for skiing and sledding amongst the sublime scenery.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

A trio of route options leads to Max Patch from Asheville. If you choose to tackle these routes in winter, come prepared with an emergency kit and snow-worthy vehicle. There is no access fee for the trailhead. Camping is allowed in nearby areas, but is prohibited on the summit itself. Venture just past the summit for the prime locations. Bring your fury friend along for this outing: the area is dog friendly and they will thoroughly enjoy the grassy summit!

Featured image provided by Jake Wheeler

What You Need to Know About Attending the Asheville Outdoor Show

The Asheville Outdoor Show makes its annual appearance on September 17 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Salvage Station. Since we’re at a new spot, we figured you might have some questions. We’ve got answers.

Location

Salvage Station is located at 466 Riverside Drive in Asheville’s River Arts District, in between Downtown and West Asheville.

Parking

There is limited parking at Salvage Station. PLEASE plan to carpool, bike, walk, or take an Uber or Lyft.

Who To Expect

We’ve invited a mix of local gear makers, national innovators, and nonprofit organizations. Check out the full list!

Family Friendly

Bring the kids to the KEEN Family Adventure Zone for face painting, sidewalk chalk, and Camp Cedar Cliff‘s AH-MAZIN’ Climbing Wall.

Giveaways + Raffle

The first 1,000 folks through the door will receive exclusive discounts at Diamond Brand Outdoors and Frugal Backpacker including a $10 gear card to each store! Other booths will have stickers, keychains, and other fine schwag to collect. Everyone will have a shot at winning a handsome reward in the form of our raffle packages.

Contests

Stop by the Asheville Trails and Trailful tents for your shot at taking the top spot in a contest to pack a backpack the quickest. Marmot will also have contests that test your speed when it comes to pitching a tent and getting in and out of a sleeping bag.

Food and Drink

The venue has a full menu featuring eclectic Southern and Appalachian inspired choices and food trucks, as well as a full bar. Outside food and drink is not allowed.

Music

Local legends The Blue Dragons will be bringing positive vibes to the Osprey Outdoor Stage throughout the day.

Yoga

prAna is hosting 20-minute riverside yoga sessions at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30. Just bring your own mat!

Pets

From Salvage Station’s website: “Service animals only. We have a large number of natural wildlife animals around our site that we are trying to be respectful of in the coming years. Also, we plan to have several high volume events that would not be conducive to having large groups of animals here. We apologize for the inconvenience in advance.”

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10 Family-Friendly Summer Adventures Around Asheville

Summer days are long and should be filled from sunup to sundown with adventures and enriching outdoor activities. Now is the season for children to get their hands dirty, to chase frogs and climb trees, to hear songbirds and eat freshly picked berries. Asheville and the surrounding mountains are brimming with family-friendly summer adventures that will keep the little ones engaged, entertained, and asking for more. Here are our top 10 picks for an active excursions filled with rivers, sunshine, and delight.

1. Explore the Botanical Gardens

With free admission, plenty of parking, and stroller-friendly trails, Asheville Botanical Gardens may be the easiest and most convenient way to introduce your children to the beauty and diversity of Asheville’s great outdoors. The gardens include over 600 species of trees, wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and sedges that are native to the Southern Appalachian mountains, including many that are rare and endangered. Guided tours are available or simply let the little ones splash in the creeks, dash through the meadows and explore the wildflower coves.

2. Go Star Gazing

Explore the night sky with the help of Star Watch Night Vision Tours.
Explore the night sky.
Christian Reusch

Here’s a compelling reason to keep the kids up past their bedtime. Plan a family stargazing session and prepare for one of the most memorable evenings of the summer. Getting started is easy and inexpensive.

3. Fly Through the Trees

Asheville Treetops Adventure Park offers kids off-the-ground thrills.
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park offers kids off-the-ground thrills.
Loco Ropes

Climb, jump, swing, fly, and rappel through the woods at Asheville Treetops Adventure Park, a wild and elaborate outdoor jungle gym just five minutes outside of town. Where else could you kayak through the canopy or snowboard through the sky? The park features five separate adventures trails, each with their own set of obstacles that will appeal to a wide variety of ages, experiences and comfort levels. Kids are guaranteed to have a blast and discover the adventurous side of physical fitness, all the while being kept safe and secure with the latest “smart belay” technology. This will be one of the most fun and active afternoons you’ll have all summer — just don’t be surprised when they ask to go back the next day.

4. Meet the Butterflies

The Hop'n Blueberry Farm features a butterfly house that kids love.
The Hop’n Blueberry Farm features a butterfly house that kids love.
Nick Page

The Hop’n Blueberry Farm  is a water-and-sun powered sustainable family farm located outside of Black Mountain, North Carolina. The farm’s unique array of specialties range from medicinal herbs and hops to butterflies and blueberries. Take a hands-on tour of this innovative Blue Ridge establishment, which dates back for seven generations, and learn about sustainability, permaculture, and pollination. Children will love the butterfly house, where you can reach out and have a friendly monarch land on your hand. During the summer months, you can observe every stage of these beautiful creature’s lives: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult. You can even purchase all things butterfly to bring home, including nets, butterfly grow kids and plant seeds.

5. Beat the Heat at Splashville

Splashville is a great way to beat the heat in downtown Asheville.
Splashville is a great way to beat the heat in downtown Asheville.
StacyVann

Splashville, a brand new interactive water fountain in Pack Square, is by far the coolest way to beat the heat in downtown Asheville. Children never seem to tire of chasing the jets of water that leap out of a tiled surface in this bustling and historical section of the city. Their shrieks and laughter mingles with live music of street performers and the chatter of shoppers, museum-goers and patrons dining outside of the many restaurants that surround the square. For an extra-special summer afternoon, treat the kids to an ice cream from nearby French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

6. Slide down Sliding Rock

Kids and adults will both be thrilled by this 60-foot natural waterslide.
Kids and adults will both be thrilled by this 60-foot natural waterslide.
William Whyte

Sliding Rock is a popular natural water park located 8 miles outside of Brevard, North Carolina. Children of all ages love the thrill of this exhilarating summer adventure, which includes lifeguard supervision during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. After you slide down a 60 foot face of smooth, steep rock, fueled by 11,000 gallons of water, and land with a splash in a deep, icy pool at the bottom, you’ll only have one thought: “I have to do that again!”

7. Visit the WNC Nature Center

This 42-acre wildlife park has plenty of critters and interactive exhibits to enjoy.
This 42-acre wildlife park has plenty of critters and interactive exhibits to enjoy.
anoldent

This 42-acre wildlife park and sanctuary is home to more than 60 native species of animals, including bobcats, black bear, red wolves and cougars. The Western North Carolina Nature Center provides a refuge for animals that have been imprinted, injured, orphaned, or otherwise rendered unable to survive on their own. Children of all ages will enjoy the interactive exhibits, such as touching reptiles, identifying songbirds, and observing the animals’ daily feeding. A highlight of your visit will be Otter Falls, a newly designed collection of pools and waterfalls chock-full of curious, playful river otters.

8. Have an Orchard Adventure

The Appalachian Heritage Center features live music, barn dances, mountain art and other cultural programs in addition to apple picking.
The Appalachian Heritage Center features live music, barn dances, mountain art and other cultural programs in addition to apple picking.
jchapiewsky

If you’re looking to take the family on a daytrip, The Orchard at Altapass  should be on the top of your list. Located 55 miles north of Asheville off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, this 105 year old orchard has been converted into an Appalachian Heritage Center, and features live music, barn dances, mountain art and other cultural programs in addition to apple picking. Children can listen to stories of the land’s remarkable history as they enjoy an orchard wagon ride, play an old fashioned game of checkers in the kids corner, hike on the nature trails, or participate in any number of hands-on art programs. Take home a jar of local jam to remember your idyllic day in the countryside.

9. Go Whitewater Rafting

The Nantahala Outdoors Center is the longest continually operated outfitter on the French Broad River.
The Nantahala Outdoors Center is the longest continually operated outfitter on the French Broad River.
Donald Judge

The French Broad River — the third oldest river in the world — is the perfect place to introduce your children to the world of whitewater rafting. A river trip is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience the outdoors on a hot summer day. The Nantahala Outdoors Center is the longest continually operated outfitter on the French Broad, and will provide your family with a safe and thrilling day of class II and III rapids while keeping you entertained with stories of the river’s dynamic history. The full-day trip even includes a plunge down a class VI drop, something your family will be telling stories about for years. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as kingfishers, bald eagles, and even black bears as you glide through a remote section of the Pisgah National Forest.

10. Go For a Hike

The Pink Beds Loop Hike is about 5 miles in total, mostly flat, and surrounded by water,
The Pink Beds Loop Hike is about 5 miles in total, mostly flat, and surrounded by water,
Bad Kleinkirchheim

Pink Beds Loop Hike is a great trail for sturdy young adventurers who already have a bit of experience on nature trails. The hike is 5 miles in total, but mostly flat and surrounded by water, including creeks to cross, streams to splash in, mountain bogs to explore and beaver dams to observe. A series of bridges, boardwalks and foot-logs keep the hike fun and dynamic, and an optional waterfall offers an additional reward. The abundance of pristine water and bogland creates a rich habitat for aquatic species and endangered plants, so keep a sharp eye out for critters.

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Originally written by RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Jessica Reeder

Top 5 Swimming Holes Near Asheville

The West coast may have hot springs and glacier-fed lakes, but here in the sultry Southeast we have our swimming holes — and we’re damn proud of them. Just listen to the Top 40 Country Countdown: people are always jumping into water, fishing in the holler, lying by the creek, and getting into trouble down by the river. A summer spent fully immersed in mountain-fed pools would be a fine summer indeed. Here are five of the coolest and coldest swimming holes within two hours of Asheville.

1. Sliding Rock

Jenn Deane

Just eight miles outside of Brevard, Sliding Rock  is Mother Nature’s answer to the slip n’ slide. You will shoot sixty feet down a perfectly smooth rock face, fueled by more than 11,000 gallons of cascading water, into a pool that is six feet deep and shockingly cold. This could be the perfect conclusion to a long day of mountain biking in the Pisgah National Forest.

As one might expect, this natural water park is extremely popular during the scorching Appalachian summers. A lifeguard is on duty between Memorial Day and Labor day, between the hours of 10am-6pm. If big crowds and long lines are not your cup of sweet iced tea, then make sure to visit Sliding Rock outside of these hours.

There is a $2 charge during lifeguard hours; bathrooms and showers available onsite.

2. Skinny Dip Falls

Jenn Deane

This may come as a disappointment for some and a relief to others, but Skinny Dip Falls is not actually a clothing-optional swimming hole. This rugged and serene pool is located at the headwaters of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. Waterfalls, jumping-off rocks, a deep plunge pool, and shallow areas for wading make it a very popular swimming spot. If you’re determined to go au naturel , there are plenty of secluded spots to be found by exploring upstream.

Located just a half mile off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Mountains-to-Sea-Trail, Skinny Dip Falls is a great place to cool down after hiking in nearby Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, or the Shining Rock Wilderness.

A blazed spur trailhead is located at Milepost 417 near the Looking Glass Rock Overlook. 

3. Compression/Twisted Falls

Ry Glover

Some of the best cliff jumping in the Southeast can be found in Cherokee National Forest, not quite two hours outside of Asheville. A series of curving back roads and a steep, mile-long hike will lead you to the base of Compression Falls—also known as Twisted or Twisting Falls—a 40 foot curtain of cascading water on the beautiful Elk River.

Although this area is becoming increasingly popular, its remote setting and steep access trail keeps the massive summer crowds at bay. A wide pool beneath the falls is ideal for swimming and sun bathing, and there are plenty of cliffs and jumping rocks to keep you entertained. Thrill seekers can find quite the adrenaline rush (not to mention photo op) by sliding directly over the falls into the pool. (While lots of people do this, be aware that any time you willingly or unwillingly plunge off of a waterfall, you are risking bodily harm. There have been a few unfortunate incidents of severe injuries resulting from people going over the falls.)

Your best landmark is Elk Mills Store on Route 321 in Elk Mills, TN. Find a map here

4. Hooker Falls

DuPont State Forest's Hooker Falls
DuPont State Forest’s Hooker Falls
mrnoy9n

DuPont State Forest is a complete, all-in-one summertime destination. Hikers and mountain bikers will enjoy over one hundred miles of multi-use trails, including the sweet, soaring downhill of Ridgeline Trail, the exposed, sun-beaten Slick-Rock Trail, and the many spectacular waterfalls for which the forest is best known. No day of exploration is complete in this natural playground without taking a dip in the pool beneath Hooker Falls — the only waterfall in DuPont that is safe for swimming.

Explore the misty chasm behind the pounding veil of the fall, plunge off the rope swing, or float in the languid downstream waters. Because the pool is part of Cascade Lake, there is no current or downstream waterfalls to watch out for. Hooker Falls are a mere quarter mile from the parking lot, so bring a floaty, a cooler, and stay ’til your waterlogged.

Park in the Hooker Falls Parking Area. Port-a-johns available in the parking lot. The forest closes at 10pm. 

5. Midnight Hole

Melina Coogan

The mountain-chilled, emerald water of Midnight Hole provides a refreshing oasis from the oppressive humidity of a Carolina Summer. This swimming hole, studded with jump rocks and fed by a small waterfall, is one of the many natural treasures you can find hidden away in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located on Big Creek on the Carolina/Tennessee State line, after an easy 1.4 mile hike on the Big Creek Trail.

Park at the Big Creek Campground Parking Lot.

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Originally written by RootsRated.

Featured image provided by Melina Coogan

Mt. Pisgah Campground

Intro

Mt. Pisgah Campground is located high atop the Pisgah Ledge at Flat Laurel Gap off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Centered amongst the wonders of the Pisgah National Forest, at an elevation of 5,000’, the Mt. Pisgah campground is ideally located for a ridgeline retreat. This mountain top campground is home to 70 tent and 70 RV sites, restroom and shower facilities, as well as several handicap accessible sites. Pack up all the luxuries car camping affords and reserve a spot in the heavenly confines of Mt. Pisgah Campground for your next adventure vacation!

What Makes It Great

The true beauty of this campground lies in its unique location along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A 20 mile drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway takes visitors high atop the prominent Pisgah Ledge on its way from Asheville to the Mt. Pisgah campground. The campground is nestled amongst some of the finest outdoor recreational opportunities around. With little more than a short drive campers have access to the Big East Fork and Black Balsam trailheads, Mt. Pisgah, Looking Glass and Sliding Rock as well as the famous mountain biking trails of the Pisgah National Forest! An elevation of 5,000’ ensure cool summertime temperatures! The campground also has access to a picnic area and nature trails that leave directly from the grounds.

The world famous Pisgah Inn sits directly across the parkway and gives visitors unique access to the finer things in life as they camp in the wilderness. The dining room at the Pisgah Inn is lined with glass and overlooks the pristine Pisgah National Forest below. A delicious array of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner items are served to patrons as they enjoy the finest view available from a dining room table! The Pisgah Inn also offers a Country Store, for those last minute camping supplies, and access to laundry facilities to refresh your wardrobe on prolonged outings.

Who is Going to Love It

The Mt. Pisgah campground and its surroundings amenities combine to form an outdoor oasis that “glamping” dreams are made of! Take advantage of the drive-up campsites by bringing your luxury list of camping items! Venture out on an epic Pisgah adventure during the day then return to camp for a shower. Next, cap off your epic day with a beverage and the delicious fare at the neighboring Pisgah Inn; camping never tasted so good.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The Mt. Pisgah Campground is located at milepost 408 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Gather your gear at Diamond Brand Outdoors, conveniently located right beside the Parkway!

Sites range from $16-$19 and the campground is open spring through fall.

Check Recreation.gov for more details on availability and reservations. For more information on the campground’s rules and regulations and a detailed map of the grounds click here.

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Featured image provided by Steven Reinhold

Hiking Chimney Rock State Park

Intro

Chimney Rock State Park is one of the most iconic outdoor destinations in the state of North Carolina. From the top of the ancient rock face for which the park is named, visitors can witness amazing views of Lake Lure and the sweeping valley below, and there are also plenty of recreational opportunities, ranging from hiking to rock climbing.

What Makes It Great

As for hiking, there are a number of excellent trails in the park. The wildly popular Outcroppings takes hikers up a challenging 26 story staircase to Chimney Rock. The Hickory Nut Falls Trails leads to an impressive 400-foot tall waterfall. And the Skyline Trail leads to Exclamation Point, which is the highest point in the park.

Not only is Chimney Rock known for its wonderful family hiking opportunities, but it also offers excellent climbing, for everyone from beginners to more advanced mountaineers. On sheer rock faces with long range views of the Hickory Nut Gap Gorge, anyone from 6 year old children to 60 year old seniors can enjoy top-roping these single and multi-pitch climbs for a fee that is pretty minimal. The park’s instructional partners, Fox Mountain Guides, are great at what they do, supplying climbers with all the equipment and requisite knowledge and support needed to have a successful day on the rock.   For beginners, there is a 60-100′ route that is single pitch and features good holds. Once to the top, climbers can rappel down for a just reward.

Intermediate and slightly more advanced climbers have the option of a multi-pitch route where an instructor will lead, place bolts and anchors, and belay from above. This route is closer to the 200-400′ range.

Who is Going to Love It

There are climbing routes for everyone from beginners to more advanced mountaineers. If top-roping isn’t your thing, experienced climbers can bring their own equipment and use the non-fee access to Rumbling Bald and its massive boulder field (with roughly 1500 boulders and some of the best routes in the southeast, if not the entire country).

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Chimney Rock State Park is located at 431 Main St. in Chimney Rock, NC 28720.

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Featured image provided by Doug Letterman

30 Reasons Why Autumn Is the Best Season to Get Outside in Asheville

The color experts predict our warm, dry winter and wet, temperate summer have set ideal conditions for a bright and healthy 2017 fall color show in the North Carolina mountains. Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, professor of biology and the “fall color guy” at Appalachian State University in Boone, says healthy trees will add to bright yellows joining the familiar orange and purple hues that mark autumn in the Asheville area. The Blue Ridge Mountains put on a show that spans six to eight weeks thanks to the variation in elevation throughout the region, according to RomanticAsheville.com.

There’s nothing quite like fall in Western Carolina — when the mountain air turns crisp and cool, the nostalgia comes flooding back with overwhelming waves of inexplicable sensation. Here are 30 reasons why autumn in Asheville is the most spectacular time of year.

1. Months of Foliage

The mountains of Western Carolina donning their fiery October red.
The mountains of Western Carolina donning their fiery October red.
Sarah Zucca

Due to early frost, warm weather, and a dramatic variance in elevation, the Blue Ridge boasts one of the most brilliant and long-lasting displays of foliage in the country. What a spectacular season to wander through the mountains, from high up in Craggy Gardens and Graveyard Fields, which are the first to turn, to the relative low country of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, which are the last to peak in early November.

2. Sleep Soundly

It's more comfortable than it looks!
It’s more comfortable than it looks!
David Clarke

Say goodbye to the restless, muggy nights of summer. A slight drop in body temperature is actually conducive to falling asleep and waking up refreshed, so curl up in your down sleeping bag and enjoy a chilly fall night under the stars. Check out Mt. Pisgah Campground, perched high in the Pisgah National Forest. Or, just sleep with the windows open!

3. Fall Festival Season is Back

Asheville Outdoor Show at Salvage Station.
Kelty

Festival season never really stops in the North Carolina mountains, but there’s an ah-mazin’ run from the Asheville Outdoor Show in September to the Asheville Holiday Parade in November. Fall also plays host to Goombay, Autumn at Oz, LEAF, and more. Head out to Franklin for PumpkinFest, an iconic mountain celebration featuring the World Famous Pumpkin Roll.

4. Happy Dogs

Happiest dog ever.
Happiest dog ever.
Peter Laurent

Dogs across the Southeast are breathing a sigh of relief now that the temperatures are finally dropping. With her fur coat no longer a burden, your dog is happily anticipating a brisk season of chasing balls, rolling in dead leaves, and accompanying you on those long, refreshing hikes.

5. Seasonal Brews

One of the most compelling reasons to get outside this season is what’s waiting for you when you return: lots of seasonal craft favorites like Asheville Brewing Company‘s Carolina Mountain Monster Imperial Stout, Catawba Brewing Company‘s King Don’s Pumpkin Ale, and Hi-Wire Brewing‘s Apricot Sour Ale. Spend some time exploring the stunning landscapes of Linville Gorge Wilderness or Pantertown Valley, then put your feet up and indulge with a sensational season brew. If a day of tasting is more of your thing, Asheville Oktoberfest can’t be beat.

6. Invigoration

Feeling inspired to go for a long hike? Not surprising.
Feeling inspired to go for a long hike? Not surprising.
Rachel Titiriga

Is it the snap in the air, the sweet relief from August’s humidity, or the backdrop of orange and gold that makes us feel so alive and and alert? Autumn breathes new life into the soul and the landscape, painting the mountains burgundy, turning cheeks pink, and instilling a craving for hard work and adventure. Channel this burst of energy by tackling some of the best trail running spots in the area.

7. Crunchy Leaves

Don't you want to crunch it?
Don’t you want to crunch it?
Nana B Agyei

There’s something so satisfying and quintessentially autumn about crunching your heal down on a dry, brittle leaf. It adds yet another element of tactile delight to the endless hiking trails that surround Asheville.

8. No More Pests
The air is clear of pollen, mosquitos are no longer swarming, and poison ivy has lost its summer potency. Overall, the wilderness is a more friendly, comfortable, and inviting place to lose yourself for the weekend.

9. Cooler Races

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s folks in Asheville keeping things weird!
Asheville Running Experience

Weekend warriors, get ready! Not only is the temperature cooler, but the races have more spunk and personality. The Asheville Running Experience offers five events over three days: ARX Happening, ARX Half Marathon, Asheville Brewing Super Hero 5K & Fun Run, Asheville Urban Odyssey presented by Frugal Backpacker, and Chasing Trail 8K. The cooler season also sees Asheville’s oldest running event, the Thomas Wolfe 8K; the Shut-In Ridge Trail Race; and the Asheville Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.

10. Empty Swimming Holes 

So cold. But so worth it.
So cold. But so worth it.
Melina Coogan

September still has its fair share of 80+ degree days and there is a major perk to taking an early fall dip: with the kids back in school and the holidays over, you might find some peaceful solitude at the region’s best swimming holes and have swimmable waterfalls all to yourself!

11. Whitewater Races

Kayaking racing season in full force
Kayak racing season in full force.
Melina Coogan

Kayakers, take your marks! The Green Race — one of the greatest spectacles in outdoor sports — takes place on the first Saturday of November.

12. Apple Orchards 

This dog seriously loves apples
This dog seriously loves apples.
Melina Coogan

In terms of classic fall adventure, nothing compares to the endless delights of an apple orchard. Go for a hay ride, hang out with a scarecrow, sip on warm cider. Picking apples under bright cobalt skies is the perfect excuse to get the whole family outside for the day.

13. Stock Up On Gear

We kick off the fall season with an awesome Labor Day Sale and keep the local love coming throughout the season to ensure everyone has the “Asheville uniform:” plaid shirt, vest, and beanie or trucker hat. Perfect for days spent on the trail and nights spent on the town.

14. Driving with the windows down

Ahhh, yes.
Ahhh, yes!
Chovee

For the past four months, driving has been either sweltering hot or artificially freezing. Fall brings the immense pleasure of driving with the windows down, making your commute to the trailhead downright enjoyable. Blast the radio and cruise The Blue Ridge Parkway (America’s longest linear park!) with fresh air rushing in and your hair flying in the breeze.

15. Bouldering Season

It's bouldering season again.
It’s bouldering season again.
Melina Coogan

September kicks off the start of bouldering season in Western Carolina; the air is snappy and the holds are grippy! Throw on your wool beanie, chalk up, and get thee to Rumbling Bald.

16. Pumpkin Seeds

One of the best ways to spend a fall evening with friends
One of the best ways to spend a fall evening with friends
Melina Coogan

As if you needed another reason to carve a pumpkin: those pepitas (or pumpkin seeds) are chalk full of magnesium, manganese, and protein. Roast them with a little sea salt and bring them along on your next hiking session for a healthy, locally grown snack. Churches, schools, and civic organizations all sell pumpkins as fundraisers, so you can feel even better about your new orange purchase.

17. Cozy Dates

Catching the last of the sun's rays on Black Balsam Knob.
Catching the last of the sun’s rays on Black Balsam Knob.
Melina Coogan

It’s only natural that we’re all looking for love before winter sets in. That, combined with the inherent coziness of shorter days and blustery weather, makes autumn the optimal season for dating. Check out these romantic fall outings for you and your sweetie.

18. Scarf Season

Apparently, scarf season isn't just for humans.
Apparently, scarf season isn’t just for humans.
Melina Coogan

Be it chunky knit cowl or fine wool wrap, we all appreciate the little boost of being bundled up in a bright scarf. Part fashion and part good sense, it’s the perfect accessory for heading outdoors, out with friends, or to the office.

19. Leaf Piles

At the intersection of household chores and childhood delights, enormous leaf piles are autumn’s answer to the swimming hole. Rake one up and dive right in — you know you want to.

20. Bonfires

There's nothing quite like the smell of campfires in autumn
There’s nothing quite like the smell of campfires in autumn.
Melina Coogan

Stave off brisk evenings and impending darkness with the warmth and glow of a backyard bonfire. Invite some friends, toast a marshmallow, and crack open some cheer. For many people, wood smoke is one of the most pleasant and nostalgic smells out there. Kick back, breathe deep, and enjoy!

21. Afternoon Light

Taking a break to lounge in the autumnal glow
Taking a break to lounge in the autumnal glow.
Melina Coogan

By mid-October, the foliage has reached the height of its splendor. When late afternoon sunlight filters through the deciduous canopy, the forest is transformed into a shifting kaleidoscope of gold, amber, and scarlet. Even the most focused and dialed-in adventurer will take a moment to pause and moved by this display of mountain glory.

22. Photography

With such an exuberant spectrum of color and texture, fall is a dynamic season for anyone with an eye for photography. Capture every radiant detail from a single copper leaf to a whole sweeping landscape. (We recommend visiting these particularly photogenic places during peak foliage.)

23. Foggy Morning Trail Runs

Rising early with the fog to enjoy a trail run is about as good as it gets
Rising early with the fog to enjoy a trail run is about as good as it gets.
Beau B

What could be a better start to your day than a trail run through the still-quiet fog of an October morning? Perhaps you’ll even see the silver of the season’s first frost feathering the grass and leaves before the warmth of the daylight melts it away.

24. Race Bikes at Oskar Blues 

The sublimely named Dirt Diggler Gravel Grinder will be held in September at the Oskar Blue REEB Ranch. This hybrid bike race is a 50/50 blend of gravel and pavement, capped off with 2 miles of sweet single track. If it’s not your thing, biking through the meandering roads of Transylvania County is great or you can also experience DuPont National Forest‘s autumn finery by foot.

25. Hot Coffee on Cold Mountain Mornings

Toboggans and piping hot coffee: two surefire signs that fall is in the air.
Toboggans and piping hot coffee: two surefire signs that fall is in the air.
Melina Coogan

Simply put, waking up in the mountains on a cold fall morning, preparing a hot cup of coffee, and watching the steam rise against the brightening sky is one of the greatest pleasures on earth. If you prefer a barista to craft your cup o’ joe, High Five‘s Riverside Drive location on the French Broad River in Woodfin has a great view.

26. Petrichor

Fall brings the possibility of passing tropical storms, bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation to the Blue Ridge. Rivers rise, gardens thrive, and we get to experience petrichor — that wonderful earthy scent that occurs after a hard rain falls on dry earth. For a rejuvenating adventure, check out a riverside hike such as the Laurel River Trail after a rainstorm and breathe deep.

27. Corn Mazes

Getting lost in a corn maze is one of the most quintessentially autumn things you can do.
Getting lost in a corn maze is one of the most quintessentially autumn things you can do.
Kevin Zamani

Getting lost amongst the stalks: it’s an autumnal right of passage. Check out the Eliada Corn Maze, just five minutes from Downtown Asheville. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to Eliada Children’s Home.

28. Sunny Days on the Rock

Autumn is the most enjoyable time of year to explore the local crags. The rock is no longer sweating in the summer sun and the views from the top are more beautiful than ever. Tie onto the sharp end and tackle the iconic multi-pitches at Looking Glass Rock in the cool breeze, without fear of burning up.

29. Cider Season

There are a lot of cozy things about fall, but cider might just be the coziest of all.
There are a lot of cozy things about fall, but cider might just be the coziest of all.
Melina Coogan

We may not fully understand the difference between apple juice and apple cider, but we know that cider is by far the more delicious way to rehydrate after a long ride, especially when it’s fresh pressed from the orchards of Western Carolina. For the hard stuff, be sure to check out CiderFest NC in October to taste some of the region’s finest.

30. The First Dusting of Snow

The faintest of dustings near Black Balsam Knob
The faintest of dustings near Black Balsam Knob
Melina Coogan

Sometime in late October, we’ll wake up and catch our first glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains dusted in snow. Then we’ll enjoy a brief and vibrant few weeks of frosty mornings coupled with warm days before winter takes its hold on the land. For outdoor enthusiasts, this means only one thing — ski season is just around the corner.

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Originally written by RootsRated.

Featured image provided by flattop341

Donate Your Eclipse Glasses

As Monday’s total solar eclipse passed through Western North Carolina, it offered a rare moment for friends and families to collectively enjoy an unique outdoors experience. In the days leading up to the big event, eclipse glasses were the hottest item in town. Now that the event has passed, we’re collecting your used eclipse glasses and donating them to Astronomers Without Borders and local schools. The glasses do not need to be those sold by Diamond Brand Outdoors.

Bring in your solar eclipse glasses by Monday, August 28, and we’ll give you a coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more. Astronomers Without Borders has announced a program to collect the used glasses and distribute them to schools in South American and parts of Asia, which will experience their own eclipses in 2019.

Since we’re local, we’re also working with local school systems interested in used glasses for astronomy activities and experiments. If you’re an interested local educator, shoot us an email.

The lenses on eclipse glasses expire after three years, meaning they’re not safe to use when the next solar eclipse moves through eastern Canada, the central United States, and part of Mexico in 2024. Many locals are framing or preserving them as souvenirs of the celestial experience. Paper frames can be recycled, but you’ll need to remove the lenses. Specialty recyclers like camera stores may accept solar filters for recycling. Glasses with plastic frames are likely not recyclable.

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Total Solar Eclipse Checklist

Your opportunity to experience a rare total solar eclipse in western North Carolina arrives on Monday, August 21. To make sure you’re prepared and packed for totality, the experts at Diamond Brand Outdoors have assembled this helpful checklist. For more on what to expect, check out Everything You Need to Know About August’s Total Solar Eclipse.

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this checklist.

What to Do Now for the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Select the best location and route for viewing the eclipse based on accessibility, weather forecast, and the time of day the path of totality will pass through the area. Many prime viewing spots require tickets or have a capacity cap in place for the day, so do your homework.
  • Select an alternate location and route. 64,000 tourists are expected to visit the mountains for the eclipse.
  • Book lodging close to your primary viewing location. Hotel rooms, campsites, and cabins are going fast!
  • Build your total solar eclipse viewing kit. (See the bottom of this post for a checklist.)
  • Purchase your eclipse viewing glasses at Diamond Brand Outdoors. We’ve ordered a lot, but they’re going fast!
  • Use an app, website, or book to find out which bright stars and planets you can expect to see during the totality, impressing your friends and kids!

What to Do the Week of the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Test all of your equipment by doing a “dry run.” Nothing’s worse than having a faulty camera when the big event gets underway!
  • Pack your total solar eclipse viewing kit and camping kit.
  • Review the eclipse timing and weather forecasts for your primary and alternate viewing locations.

What to Do the Day of the Total Solar Eclipse

  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Leave early for your viewing location.
  • Claim your spot by setting up chairs and viewing equipment, but remember to be a good neighbor so others may enjoy the experience.
  • Test your equipment.
  • Enjoy the day with your friends and family. The time of totality will be brief, but the experience leading up and following the first total solar eclipse in western North Carolina since 1506 will lead to storied memories for years to come.

Total Solar Eclipse Viewing Kit Checklist

  • WNC + NATIONAL PARK MAPS: Cell towers will likely be overloaded, so don’t rely on an app.
  • ECLIPSE VIEWING GLASSES: You must have these for direct solar viewing.
  • HAT: To protect your head from the sun while you wait for the main event.
  • SUNGLASSES: NOT to look at the sun, but to cut down on the glare when you’re looking everywhere else.
  • PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER: Make sure you’ll be able to document the day through photos and videos.
  • CAMPING CHAIRS + TABLES: Get yourself a chance to stake your claim to watch and rest after the excitement!
  • BLANKETS: No matter where you’re watching, blankets keep things cleaner. Bring more than you think you need.
  • COOLER: You’ll likely get to your viewing area hours before the eclipse. Drinks, lunch, and snacks are a must!
  • DRINKWARE + WATER BOTTLES: Insulated cups and tumblers keep your drinks cold (or hot), don’t sweat, and are reusable.
  • HEADLAMP OR FLASHLIGHT: Since you’ll be looking up, this is primarily for emergencies. Use the red setting instead of white.
  • COMPASS: There’s plenty of information online that will tell you exactly where to look as totality begins.
  • CAMERA: This is one of the times you may want a nicer camera than you’ll find on your phone.
  • CELL PHONE: Coverage may be too spotty for weather and GPS, but your clock and camera will still work.
  • WATER: Always stay hydrated, whether the sun is shining or not.
  • SUNSCREEN: Always a good idea when you’ll be outside for any period of time.
  • INSECT REPELLENT: Another good idea anytime you’re heading into the outdoors.
  • OUTDOOR GAMES: Help pass the time and enjoy some relaxation with friends and family.
  • HAMMOCK: If you’ve got space to set up an ENO hammock or WindPouch, laying down is a great way to watch.
  • ELECTRICAL TAPE: Some folks don’t know how to turn off their camera’s flash. Be prepared to help them out.
  • CAMPING KIT (OPTIONAL): Traveling the day before or staying overnight after the eclipse helps avoid traffic and can be fun!
    • TENT
    • SLEEPING BAG FOR EACH CAMPER
    • LANTERN
    • SLEEPING PAD FOR EACH CAMPER
    • PILLOWS
    • TARPS
    • STOVE + FUEL
    • MATCHES
    • FRYING PAN + POT
    • CUTTING BOARD + KNIFE
    • SPONGE, SOAP, + BIN FOR WASHING DISHES
    • PAPER TOWELS
    • FIREWOOD (IF ALLOWED)
    • ROASTING STICKS FOR S’MORES + HOT DOGS
    • BEAR KEG
    • ICE
    • TRASH BAGS
    • FIRST AID KIT
    • CORKSCREW

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Events

Sherpa Night: Celebrate Nepal

Sherpa Adventure Gear weaves together the latest designs and technology with the rich heritage and time-honored beliefs of Nepal. The company was founded by Tashi Sherpa as a living memorial to the unsung heroes of Mt. Everest. For decades, climbers have always been grateful for having a Sherpa companion on the treacherous slopes of the Himalayas. It is the Sherpa who makes the route, carries the load, and sets the ropes to the top and back.

Join us to experience Nepalese culture through sight and taste. We’ll show a short documentary focusing on Nepalese culture and enjoy authentic food samples and traditional tea. Mark Johnson of Hobnail Trekking Company will present information about expeditions from the USA to Nepal. You might be inspired to experience it firsthand!

We’ll have some giveaways for all and a special gift with any Sherpa Adventure Gear purchase that evening. For every piece of Sherpa Adventure Gear’s purchased, a donation is made to provide scholarships to children who grow up in remote Himalayan villages, bringing the spirit of the Sherpa full circle.

RSVP on Facebook

This free event is open to the public. Kids and well-behaved pets with owner on leash are welcome.