So many adventures, so few weekends

So many adventures, so few weekends.

That’s the story of summer, the 13-week run between Memorial Day and Labor Day when we pack in most of our adventures for the year. So we set out to pick some destinations that seem most worthy of summer fun. Here are a few places we’re headed this summer, and why:

Peaks of Otter

Peaks of Otter

Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

June 1-3

Adventure: Weekend basecamp hiking

This especially adventurous trip combines hiking with a bit of history and a farm trip. June 6 marks the 74th anniversary of D-Day, and we’ll piggyback this hike with a visit to the National D-Day memorial in nearby Bedford, Va. After a tour of the museum Friday afternoon, we’ll continue on to our weekend basecamp at the Peaks of Otter campground. Saturday, we’ll hike three trails — 4.4-mile Flat Top, 3.3-mile Harkening Hill and 1.5-mile Sharp Top — and on Sunday we’ll make a return trip up Sharp Top to take in the sunrise. On the way out, we’ll stop at A Goode View Alpaca Farm.

Outdoor escapes in 2017 — Linville Gorge
Savording Linville Gorge from Shortoff Mountain

Linville Gorge

Linville, NC

June 22-24

Adventure: Weekend basecamp hiking

Linville Gorge is one of the Southeast most iconic adventures. The Linville River drops 2,000 vertical feet on its 13-mile run through a gorge that’s 1,300 feet deep, creating some dizzying drops and heart-pounding climbs. The majority of the region is a designated wilderness, so you get little help in finding your way: no trail blazes and when a towering hemlock drops, no one moves in with a chainsaw to chisel a way through. It’s some of the best true exploring to be had in these parts. We stick to the east rim Saturday, hiking from Table Rock to Shortoff Mountain and back, then Sunday plunge into the gorge on trails out of the Visitor Center.

Creek crossing in the Wilson Creek area

Wilson Creek

Pisgah National Forest near Mortimer, NC

June 29-July 1

Adventure: Backpacking Solo

For a summer destination, it’s hard to beat Wilson Creek, which serves as the drainage for massive Grandfather Mountain. Water worms its way every which way here, making for refreshing stream crossings, lots of waterfalls and delightful pools to cool off in. Wilson Creek itself can be overrun on a hot summer’s day, so we plan to hit the less popular, more challenging Gragg Prong and Lost Cove portions of this wild area on a trip that includes camping solo on a ridge ending in one of the best outcrop overlooks around; it’s an ideal locale for coffee and a Sunday brunch of oatmeal and Pop-Tarts. We hike out Sunday morning, with the option for a hike to South Harper Falls.

Hikers from our 2016 visit to Standing Indian

Standing Indian

Nantahala National Forest near Franklin

Aug. 24-26

Adventure: Weekend basecamp hiking

We went to Standing Indian two years ago and loved it. From the group campsite we hike up Kimsey Creek to the Appalachian Trail, cross over Standing Indian, and return to camp on Lower Trail Ridge Trail, so we can loll about back at camp in the cool waters of Kimsey Creek. Sunday, we head up Blackwell Ridge to the AT, with a return down the Long Branch Trail, in an area of old growth woods. It’s the perfect summer send-off.

Old growth forest
The view from near Laurel Knob on Snooks Nose Trail

Curtis Creek

Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, NC

TBD

Adventure: Weekend basecamp hiking

NOTE: This was actually going to be a sneak into summer this coming weekend, but a stormy forecast has pushed this trip to another weekend. We’ll let you know the new date! Curtis Creek became part of the nation’s nascent national forest system in 1913, becoming the first land in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest. The area is so rugged that large swaths of land hadn’t been logged yet and weren’t likely to be. Our base for the weekend is the Curtis Creek Campground up the gravel Curtis Creek Road. Both of our hikes emanate from the campground: on Saturday, we’ll take the Snooks Nose Trail 4.1 miles up to the Green Knob observation tower, encountering old growth woods above 3,200 feet. A little off-trail hiking will be required to reach the most impressive stands of poplars in an area off Laurel Knob called the Pompous Bowl. Sunday, after a pancake breakfast, we take a shorter hike out of the campground up Hickory Branch to more old growth.

Join us!

Learn how you can join us on these summer adventures by clicking on the links below.

Peaks of Otter

Linville Gorge

Wilson Creek

Standing Indian

Curtis Creek

Happy trails!

Joe

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