The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

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The mountains and valleys around Asheville and Hendersonville are a hiker’s paradise. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to this region every year just to hike and to experience the countless trails that range from short day hikes to the world famous Appalachian Trail.
   Because of the vast territory involved for possible hiking, some considerations should be made concerning planning and safety. For the most part, the Western North Carolina mountains are wilderness or semi-wilderness areas. That means there are a lot more trees and woods than people. Getting lost is a possibility if proper planning and cautions are not taken. In order to prevent any problems, you should always take the following precautions before venturing out into the woods on any hike that takes you away from civilization.
       1. Always check in at a ranger station or park headquarters for the latest trail information before you leave. Trail conditions often change due to weather conditions and knowing about any changes in advance can prevent much aggravation later. In addition, rangers know the trails and can best advise you regarding which trails to take, length of hikes and so on.
        2. Always leave word with someone about where you’re going, when you plan to leave and when you plan to return. In the worst case, this will insure that you will be searched for should you not return at the designated time.

Wild & Furry Animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, by Lee James Pantas

        3. Always take a trail map on your hike, unless it is a short self-guided nature trail or similar trail. Know how to read the map. Check with a local forest ranger if you have any questions about the map and the trail you intend to hike.
        4. If at all possible, never hike alone. An injury alone in the woods can be life-threatening without someone else to assist or go for help.
        5. Lock valuables in the trunk of your car or take them with you.
       6. Be prepared! Do your homework before you even start out. Talk to professional outfitters to insure that you have the right hiking shoes, equipment, food, first aid supplies and maps. Take plenty of food and water, and cold weather gear in the fall or spring. A cell phone is a great idea for emergencies although don't count on coverage in some areas.
        7. Never leave the trail. Even experienced hikers can get lost by taking off-the-trail shortcuts.
        8. Do not drink the water in streams or springs. Bacterial diseases can be contracted by drinking untreated “wild waters.”


Blue Ridge Parkway Trails:
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs thru Asheville, has hiking trails along its length that are easily accessible. Keep in mind that Asheville is located around milepost 380 and getting to milepost 260, for example, 100 miles on the park-way, will take a good three hours driving time. One of the author's favorites is the Graveyard Fields Trail, an easy 2-mile, which located at milepost 418.

The local office of the U.S. Forest Service is another valuable resource and can also answer questions you might have regarding hiking trails in the nearby Pisgah National Forest. Contact them at the U.S. Forest Service, P.O. Box 7148, Asheville, NC 28802; 828-257-4200. The choice of possible hikes is so vast that no attempt will be made to even begin to cover what trails are available. I strongly suggest that you first visit one of the outfitters mentioned above and start there. They will be able to help you make some good choices based on your preferences and skill level. These stores also have maps and books for sale about hiking in the mountains.

Another great online resource if you are looking for hiking trails in Western North Carolina is Asheville Trails. Eric Champlin is its founder, a former advertising creative director with Rob Sollie as co-founder, a former landscape architect. They started publishing  Asheville Trails (along with sister Atlanta Trails) to share their favorite hikes with their friends and have developed a major resource website for hikers, backpackers and campers.

Their mission is to deliver the absolute best and most detailed info on trails in the South and to help people find a great trail and get the most out of every adventure. Their sites include features that most other publishers skip: interactive trail maps, directions, elevation profiles, original photography, and detailed trail descriptions. And throughout their sites, they include really important guidance on how to Leave No Trace, what to pack for each adventure, and how to practice good trail etiquette.

Hiking & Walking Clubs:
Asheville Amblers Walking Club: Recreation walking club based in Asheville. 85 Tunnel Road, Suite 12A-262, Asheville NC 28805. 828-687-2777.
Carolina Mountain Club: Over 175 organized group hikes every year. The Carolina Mountain Club has been in existence for over 80 years. PO Box 68, Ashville NC 28802.
High Country Hikers: Hiking club based near Hendersonville NC. Twice weekly group hikes. 828-891-6294.

Outdoor Stores & Outfitters in the Asheville-Hendersonville Area:
Black Dome: 140 Tunnel Road, Asheville NC 28805, 828-251-2001.
Diamond Brand Outdoors Downtown: 53 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, 828-771-4761
Mast General Store: 15 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville NC 28801. 828-232-1883.
Play It Again Sports (Second-hand): 611 Tunnel Road, Asheville NC 28805, 828-299-1221.
REI: 31 Schenck Parkway, Asheville NC 28803, 828-687-0918.
Second Gear (Second-hand) 444 Haywood Road, Asheville NC 28806, 828-258-0757.
Ski Country Sports: 1000 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville NC 28804, 828-2542771.

Outdoor Stores & Outfitters in the rest of Western North Carolina:
Bryson City: Nantahala Outdoor Center: 13077 Highway 19W, Bryson City NC, 800-232-7238.
Cashiers: Highland Hiker
: 47 Highway 107 South, Cashiers NC 28717. 828-743-1668.
Fontana Dam:
Fontana Village Adventure Center, 300 Woods Road, Fontana Dam NC 28733, 800-849-2258.
Hot Springs:
Bluff Mountain Outfitters: 152 Bridge Street, Hot Springs NC 28743, 828-622-7162.
Murphy: Appalachian Outfitters: 104A Tennessee Street, Murphy NC 28906, 828-837-4165.
Valle Crucis: Mast General Store: Other locations in Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville and Asheville. Highway 194, Valle Crucis NC 28691. 828-963-6511.
West Jefferson: Mountain Outfitters: 102 South Jefferson Avenue, West Jefferson NC 29694. 336-246-9133.

Expedition & Guide Services:
Slickrock Expeditions: Slickrock Expeditions runs recreational trips of backpacking, canoeing, and camping in wilderness areas throughout the United States. Po Box 1214, Cullowhee NC 28723, 828-293-3999.
The Wildland Trekking Company: Trips out of the Asheville area into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 800-715-4453



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