After completing the AT in 2000 I was yearning for a spring hike in the Southern Appalachians earlier this year. My two hiking buddies convinced me to broaden my horizons and to hike some new territory, and boy am I glad we did.
We spent 4 days hiking around the Pisgah National Forest around Black Balsam Knob and up into the Shining Rock Wilderness area. We hiked quite a bit on the Art Loeb Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail. What an incredible area!
Then we spent 3 days in the Nantahala National Forest in the Joyce Kilmer Slick Rock Wilderness area. Another total gem of an area! It was so beautiful there that I actually felt as if I did not belong. Thick carpets of trillium on the forest floor and moss covered boulders all along Slick Rock Creek in the heart of the wilderness.
Anybody have any other favorite non-AT hiking areas in the Southeast? I'll be relocating to the Chattanooga area in 2003 and need to learn a few new places to escape to. I'm told the Cumberland Trail starts a few miles from my new home in Signal Mountain, TN. Any experience with that trail out there? A Of course the Smokies are beckoning... Any favorite side trails that I should place on my short list? Thanks...