When you hike through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are hiking through North Carolina’s section of the Appalachian Trail. Grazing the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina’s 88-mile section of the trail is some of the most scenic along its 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. One of the longest footpaths on Earth, the Appalachian Trail celebrated its 75th birthday this past August.
There’s another 200 miles of the North Carolina Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee border. Some of the highest peaks this side of the Mississippi reside here, as well as vast areas of wilderness. You’ll find miles and miles of trails to hike through Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and DuPont State Forest. You’ll find gorgeous waterfalls, take in Whiteside Mountain and Looking Glass Rock.
Western North Carolina, affectionately known to the locals as the WNC, is also home to Asheville, where the North Carolina Nature Center serves all 27 WNC counties and the Appalachian Trail cuts through the eastern edge of the city. Fall is a great time to hike. The weather is mild, the autumn trees are just beginning to turn color and the many small towns dotting the landscape are as hospitable as they come.
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