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  1. #1
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    Default Good "Out n' Back" in NC

    My wife and I are taking up hiking/backpacking as a hobby. I have some experience with both, but years removed when I was much younger and in much better shape.

    That said, I dont think we would have a problem covering 6-7 miles easily.

    Ideally, what I would like to find for our first time out together is a nice out n' back where we could park the truck at the trailhead, have a nice hike and find a spot to pitch the tent for the evening. Some nice scenery would be preferable as well.

    Suggestions? Id like to make use of our tent, so Im looking for a tent site specifically. We are looking at late October/early November for a timeframe as well.

  2. #2
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    You'll get a lot of responses - here's mine:


    Park at Sam's Gap, hike up to Big Bald to camp, hike back down in the morning. If the weather cooperates the views are awesome.

    That's around 14 miles round trip, the first day is mostly up, coming back is mostly down and the trailhead is a safe place for an overnigher.

    The top of Big Bald is dry but there are water sources within a mile or 2 of the top.

  3. #3

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    Since you're in Wake Forest, my suggestion is Grayson Highlands in VA. It's roughly only 3 hrs from the Raleigh area.

    You can park in the overnight backpacker's lot in the park, and head either north or south on the AT. Going south (towards Damascus) there are plenty of nice, open grassy campsites heading in the Mt. Rogers NRA, and the water was flowing well when I was up there last month.

    The area also has other trails that can be combined into a nice loop.

    10-K is spot on with Big Bald too.

    http://mappery.com/Grayson-Highlands-State-Park-Map

  4. #4

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    No from the area but I have a friend who frequents there. I will talk to him and get back to you. Good luck.

  5. #5

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    Sorry, I wrote that wrong. Not from the area.

  6. #6
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    3rd for Big Bald from Sams Gap or Spivey Gap.

    Carvers Gap on Roan Mountain-Park there and walk north on the AT and camp at Over Mountain Shelter or a little further on the summit of Big Hump. Comparatively easy walking.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

  7. #7
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    For the AT Big Bald, Roan (Carvers Gap to 19E); Standing Indian Loop;

    MST around Craggy Gardens to Mount Mitchell, or NC 181 to Rosebourgh Road;

    Uwharrie Trail or Birkhead Trail in the Uwharrie Forest.

    South Mountain State Park.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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    Falls Lake Trail: 2011

  8. #8
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    Thanks guys. Nice to see a local on here too (Tennessee Viking).

  9. #9
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    I also suggest the area around Overmountain Shelter (I think it's the prettiest spot on the Trail in NC!) but be aware that it's possible to drive within half a mile of it, i.e. you don't have to hike all the way therte from Carver's Gap.

    You could park near the shelter and walk in, and then spend most of your time exploring the hills and balds nearby. Towards day's end, you could return to the shelter; there are beautiful tentsites nearby looking down the valley and the next morning you'd be really close to your vehicle.

    This would make for a very pleasant night out, especially if you haven't done this in awhile.

  10. #10
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    The hike up Big Bald from Sam's Gap is a pretty stiff climb for a beginner. I would recommend the Grayson Highlands area in Southwest Virginia. Park at Massey Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park, and climb up Wilburn Ridge on the AT. At Rhododendron Gap keep following the AT toward Thomas Knob shelter, but start looking for camp sites on your left after about 1/2 mile from Rhodo Gap. Plenty of good site. Water and privy at the shelter (not far.) Great views. Wild horses. Go in October.
    Ken B
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    Our Long Trail journal

  11. #11
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    Sorry to bring this back from the dead, but would late November/December be a bad time for hiking from Grayson Highlands to Mt. Rodgers? Can you camp on the summit of Mt. Rodgers?

  12. #12
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    Its pretty perfect right now with fall colors coming out. And the area has gotten some good rain, so sources should flowing.

    I have only passed the side trail to the summit, but from what I understand its pretty rocky on top. But Thomas Knob Shelter is in sight of the summit trail.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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  13. #13
    Registered User chelko's Avatar
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    Late November and December are a little late for a beginner trip to Mt Rogers. The weather up there gets very unpredictable and severe. Many scout troops have been resqued from blizzards there.

  14. #14
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    Default Shorter drive to va

    As someone has already mentioned, for those of us who live in the Triangle, it's less drive time to get to the AT in VA than NC.
    Joe Miller, who writes the "Take it Outside" articles for the Raleigh News and Observer, had a good article making this point several years back.
    He points out that an 80 mile section of the AT from I-81, near Roanoke, up to US 60 can be accessed in about 3 hours from the Triangle.
    Compared to the destinations, all very fine locations, others have posted this will save 1 to 2 hours drive time OUT to your hiking destination let alone driving back!!
    There are two good backpacking and camping areas that fall into this 80 mile AT window.
    One is near Peaks of Otter, off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the other is the Thunder Ridge Wilderness & James River Face Wilderness just off US 501.
    One beautiful location with good hiking and camping is the Mount Pleasant Scenic Area of VA.
    It' s just north of US 60 about 3.5 hours from the Triangle.
    You park at Hog Camp Gap on a dirt FS road and from there can take two loop hikes with good tent sites.
    One loop goes to the summit of Mt Pleasant with some great small tent sites and views near the top.
    The other loop uses the AT and crosses the grassy summit of Cole mountain where you can camp at Cow Camp Gap shelter and return on the Old Hotel trail.
    Another fine hike using the AT is just north of Hog Camp Gap and crosses the open bald of Tar Jacket Ridge.
    This hike could make for a good out and back.
    Two web sites to consider with lots of useful and helpful information are "Local Hikes" and "Hiking Upward".
    It should also be noted, the other destinations mentioned by other posters are also at elevations of 5000-6000'.
    If you go in Nov/Dec. you must keep a close watch on the weather and be prepared for very cold weather camping and possible adverse conditions.
    You might consider saving these higher elevation jaunts for mid to late spring or early summer.

  15. #15
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cucamelsmd15 View Post
    Sorry to bring this back from the dead, but would late November/December be a bad time for hiking from Grayson Highlands to Mt. Rodgers? Can you camp on the summit of Mt. Rodgers?
    For beginners? No -- as already mentioned, the weather is unpredictable and can get *very* cold in December. (Of course, it could be 50 and sunny, too....) This weekend the expected low temp Friday night (10/29) is 26-F.

    No camping allowed on the summit of Mt Rogers itself, but there is plenty of camping along the AT between Rhododendron Gap and the Thomas Knob Shelter.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  16. #16
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    Hmmm, so we might have to watch the weather to see if Mt Rogers shakes out. Otherwise, I think we might just make a dry run at Umstead and wait until the spring.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cucamelsmd15 View Post
    My wife and I are taking up hiking/backpacking as a hobby. I have some experience with both, but years removed when I was much younger and in much better shape.

    That said, I dont think we would have a problem covering 6-7 miles easily.

    Ideally, what I would like to find for our first time out together is a nice out n' back where we could park the truck at the trailhead, have a nice hike and find a spot to pitch the tent for the evening. Some nice scenery would be preferable as well.

    Suggestions? Id like to make use of our tent, so Im looking for a tent site specifically. We are looking at late October/early November for a timeframe as well.
    Go see Ron Haven in Franklin. Stay at his hotel for the hiker rate. He can clue you to the blue blaze trails in the area that aint full of bozo thru hikers. Pay for the room and the shuttles. Have fun, sleep clean and eat well. You're wife will thank you for it. You might even get her to go hiking again.

  18. #18
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cucamelsmd15 View Post
    Hmmm, so we might have to watch the weather to see if Mt Rogers shakes out. Otherwise, I think we might just make a dry run at Umstead and wait until the spring.
    There are other hikes in that area. Drive to Damascus and get a shuttle to US 421 south of town. It's a 15 mile hike northbound back to town, along a ridge line that runs around 3000 feet. The lower elevation makes the weather less bad in early December (though a few years ago I did a hike there when the temps got down to around 0. Cold.) Makes a nice overnight hike.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    There are other hikes in that area. Drive to Damascus and get a shuttle to US 421 south of town. It's a 15 mile hike northbound back to town, along a ridge line that runs around 3000 feet. The lower elevation makes the weather less bad in early December (though a few years ago I did a hike there when the temps got down to around 0. Cold.) Makes a nice overnight hike.
    Yeah, I was looking at something similar. How did you find the forecast for Mt Rogers? We have 30*F sleeping bags, so some cold isnt a problem, but the weather is a "wait and see" as always.

  20. #20
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Point source forecast for the summit of Mt Rogers: http://tinyurl.com/22pwuzo

    A good local forecast is for the town of Whitetop: http://tinyurl.com/yrefh3 -- this one is a good average between the lower and higher elevations.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

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