Mary Dotson

Asheville: A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Best Hiking


By: Melina Coogan

From the tallest point in the East to the famous grassy balds of Southern Appalachia

A voluminous network of trails spiderweb the mountains that surround Asheville. Soaring ridge lines, breathtaking views, and an epic array of terrain have long established this city as one of the hiking epicenters of the country.

The tireless efforts of such organization as  The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina have not only protected the existing state parks and forests, but have been able to expand upon them by thousands of acres. From the heights of Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak on the East Coast, to the waterfall-studded trails of Dupont, to the sublime views of Max Patch, the outdoor opportunities in the Southern Appalachians are limitless.


Mount Mitchell

Sunset from Mt. Mitchell. Ryan Snyder


Photo: Sunset from Mt. Mitchell. Ryan Snyder


Hikers, backpackers, trail runners, and naturalists flock to the summit of Mount Mitchell not only for the beauty of its surroundings, but also because it is the highest peak East of the Mississippi. Towering above the Black Mountains, the views from the top are truly exceptional.

One of the best ways to reach this acclaimed summit is to begin at Black Mountain Campground on the South Toe River in Burnsville. The steep, thickly wooded trail climbs 3,600 feet in just over 5.5 miles. The forest transforms as you quickly gain elevation, a welcome distraction to the grueling uphill hike. When you reach an alpine meadow abloom with wildflowers, allow yourself a well deserved break, as the rigorous pace of the trail soon picks up again. Even experienced hikers will find this a strenuous, all day excursion, but the the reward of heavenly views and pristine mountain air at the summit are worth the effort.

When you arrive, take a moment to pay tribute to Elisha Mitchell, for whom the mountain was named. This scientist, explorer, and professor was the first person to measure the mountain and declare it the highest in the East. She is buried on the summit.


Shining Rock


Photo: The quartzite gardens of Shining Rock. Stephen Reinhold


Luminous with bright white quartzite rock, the summit of Shining Rock is a veritable gem of the Appalachians. In the Shining Rock Wilderness, high in the Great Balsam Mountains, miles of soaring ridgeline string together grassy balds laced with wildflowers and surrounded by ethereal views. Perched high in the rugged and remote wilderness, the quartzite garden atop the summit is a popular spot for star gazing.

Although a collection of trails leads to Shining Rock, the most picturesque of these includes a section of the Art Loeb Trail. Park at Black Balsam Knob Trailhead on Road 816 off of the Blue Ridge Parkway; head North and follow the white blazes of the Art Loeb Trail. You will reach the top of rounded summits, traverse five miles of spectacular ridgeline, and drop down mountain passes before reaching Shining Rock Gap. From there, scramble up a network of unmarked trails to the summit and watch the sunlight bounce off crystalline rock formations.

Dogs are more than welcome, and no fees or permits are required to hike or camp at Shining Rock. However, it is a designated Wilderness Area, so be aware of the specific guidelines that come along with that. 


DuPont State Forest


Photo: The cascading falls of Dupont. Selena N.B.H

In 2012, DuPont State Forest gained notoriety as the hauntingly beautiful backdrop of the smash blockbuster hit The Hunger Games. Before then, this 10,000 acres of wooded wilderness was best known for its abundance of waterfalls. The Little River cascades through the forest, careening over Bridal Veil Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, and more. Eighty miles of meandering, multi-use trails and five cold water mountain lakes makes DuPont a hiker’s oasis during the hot summer months.



Linville Gorge Wilderness


Photo: Michael Sprague

The 12,000 acres of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area are some of the most rugged and wild in all of North Carolina. Thirty nine hiking trails fan out from access points on the East and West Rims. Although the trails vary in length and intensity, with a few easier options on the rim, most carve their way steeply down to the bottom of the 1,400 foot canyon. Certain strenuous hikes will even cross the Linville River before marching sharply upwards again.

The beauty of this remote wilderness and its spectacular, long-reaching views cannot be overstated. Towering cliffs (often slung with ropes and dotted with rock climbers) and a thriving mixed hardwood forests surround you as you plunge deeper into the canyon. When the river is high, it is considered one of the best, albeit dangerous, class V whitewater kayaking runs in the Southeast. At lower volumes, you will have your pick of swimming holes, cliff jumping and small waterfalls to explore.



Max Patch


Photo: The lush summit of Max Patch. Retromoderns


Roughly 20 minutes outside of Hot Springs, NC, Max Patch is one of the Southeast’s most acclaimed and spectacular viewpoints. This enormous, verdant meadow lies on the Appalachian Trail as it follows the crest along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. The exquisite, panoramic skyline includes the Great Smoky Mountains, the Great Balsam range, the Roans, and the Black Mountains. In the evening, the sun bleeds purple fire over the rolling, expansive view of Tennessee to the West.


Read More Here

Here is another great artlicle: Top 50 Long Distance Hiking Trails In The USA



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    Low-Cost Improvements to Help Your Home Sell

    Put these inexpensive but invaluable fixes on your to-do list before you put your home on the market


    By: Lurdes Abruscato




    Many homeowners won’t even consider listing their home, because they can’t afford extensive remodeling to get it ready for sale. But sometimes it’s not the major renovations that buyers notice.


    Consider this checklist of cheaper to-do’s before hanging that for-sale sign.

    1. Quick-clean the exterior and landscape.

    They don’t call it curb appeal for nothing. Check for loose or clogged gutters and broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind the gutters. Cut the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure the garage doors open and close properly. Wipe down lawn furniture. Fix any dangling shutters.

    Estimated costs: Completely replacing gutters can be expensive; replacing just parts is more economical. A 10-foot gutter starts at $6; downspouts start at $8. High-end garage doors cost $1,000, but a decorative garage door hardware kit starts at $19.

    2. Make that door (and doorbell) stand out.

    Many homeowners don’t come in through the front door, but prospective buyers do. “While the Realtor is fiddling with the lockbox, trying to get the door open, the buyer is standing there looking around,” says stager and interior designer Deborah Goode of A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging in Annapolis, Maryland. Fix cracked or peeling doorways with a fresh coat of paint and be sure the bell actually rings.


    Estimated costs: Exterior paints start at $30 a gallon; doorbells are $10 and up.

    3. Evaluate every entrance.

    It’s not just the front door that will get the once-over. “Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually,” says Chris Neumann, director of operations for Pyramid Builders in Annapolis. Update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs, he suggests. “And replace any junky bifolds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors,” he adds.


    Estimated costs: Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

    4. Look down.

    People walk in and wipe their feet. One of the first things they’ll notice is the condition of the floor, says Goode. Stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors are fairly easy fixes.


    Estimated costs: You can rent a carpet steam cleaner for $60; the cost of area rugs varies significantly.

    5. Select the right scent.

    Beware the four most dreaded words in real estate: “What is that smell?” Buyers will associate musty odors with mold damage or disrepair, so eliminate any nose agitators. Clean out litter boxes, make sure your animals are bathed, banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage, and throw out that science experiment in the fridge. Find one scent (or complementing scents) you love and use it throughout the house to avoid scent overload.


    Estimated costs: Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17. Or try these great DIY Scents!


    6. Spot treat any blemishes.

    Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. “Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light,” says interior designer Jana Abel, president of J. Abel Interiors in Silver Spring, Maryland.


    Estimated costs: Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

    7. Have a place for everything.

    If buyers see that your stuff doesn’t have a home, they won’t want your home. “I always advise my clients to take out at least a third of what they have in closets,” Goode says. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.


    When closet space is at a premium, repurpose other areas for storage. “Finish the garage walls and floors and add some simple storage to make the room part of the home,” says Abel.


    Estimated costs: Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.



    8. Check the tracks.

    You may no longer notice that lopsided utensils drawer, but potential buyers will. New cabinetry may be out of the question, but fix bent drawer tracks and slides, replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.


    Estimated costs: Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

    9. Give the appliances some elbow grease.

    Buyers want stoves that shine, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole. Clean the oven, refrigerator, microwave, sink and any other appliance that will be included in the purchase of the home.


    Estimated costs: Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.



    10. Finish with finishes.

    Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. “If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze,” says Abel. New shower curtains, towels and mats also will help the room look updated and clean, she adds.

    Estimated costs: Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.


    For More Great Ideas Check Out this Article:



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      Fun Activities that Define Asheville

      Here are some of the incredible activities in Asheville that make it a great place to visit and live! These are just a few of the many things that make Asheville amazing so if you ever want to know more, please don't hesitate to call Town and Mountain Realty (828) 232-2879! We would love to be your guide!



      We asked Asheville native Lan Sluder for 10 fun activities that define his hometown. He is author of "Amazing Asheville: Guide to Asheville and the Beautiful North Carolina Mountains" (Equator, $19.95).


      Sip coffee in the double-decker London bus. "It's on Biltmore Avenue, permanently parked in a lot across the street from the Aloft Hotel. Go in, buy coffee and a muffin on the lower level; there are seats there - or go up to the second level. This is one of 10 or 12 coffeehouses in the area, but it's unusual to see."


      Tube down the French Broad River and stop at Bywater for refreshments. "Bring your own tube or rent one from Asheville Adventure Rentals ( Bywater ( is near UNC Asheville right along the French Broad on Riverside Drive. It has bar food - burgers and that sort of stuff - and there are picnic tables outside."

      BatteryParkMalaprop's Bookstore

      Try the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. "Have a glass, buy or exchange used books. It's in the Grove Park Arcade. Malaprop's ( is best for new books; try this place for used ones. BPECB ( allows pets inside, and has a slogan along the lines of 'Dogs and well-behaved owners are allowed.' "


      Catch the drumming circle. "Every Friday night in Pritchard Park, on Patton Avenue about three blocks from Pack Square. Crowds hear the noise and people gather around to listen for free ( There could be 15 drummers, there could be 30 or more."

      Take an unusual tour. "The LaZoom tour ( is like a comedy club on wheels. There are two booze tours (; where you go to different breweries and have a beer at each. For the Amazing Pubcycle tour (, you get on a specially-made super-large bike that can hold 13 people. Everyone peddles and you go to different bars, brewpubs and craft breweries."


      Go to Moogfest. " Moogfest (, April 23-27 this year, celebrates Robert Moog, who invented the synthesizer and, essentially, electronic music. He spent his later years at UNC Asheville and is buried in Asheville."

      See where Fitzgerald stayed. "The Grove Park Inn ( is now owned by Omni, which is making improvements and adding restaurants. You can go there and look at the suite where famed Roaring '20s author F. Scott Fitzgerald lived for a couple summers in the 1930s when he was trying to kick his drinking habit. The story is, he'd drink a case of beer a day because he didn't consider it alcohol."


      Sample the beer district. "One of the biggest things in the last 15 years is this Beer City thing: It now has about 24 or 25 craft minibreweries in and around town - more than in Atlanta. The area called South Slope, south of Patton Avenue, between Biltmore and Ashland Avenues, has become kind of the beer district. There are six or eight there, and the whole area is coming alive: Not only with breweries, but with new restaurants. An interesting place is Ben's Tune Up (, which used to be a car fix-up place. There's an open air patio - and it serves Japanese fusion Southern food."


      Check out the River Arts District. "It's south of Patton Avenue and used to be an industrial area; now its a district where you can buy things at artists' studios ( Check out this great video about the River Arts District here! Just walk in and see what the artists are doing. The district has helped make Asheville a center for crafts and fine art. Wedge Brewering ( is there, and New Belgium, a national brewery, is opening there in 2015. There are lots of pizza places and new restaurants. Bull & Beggar ( is one of many 'New Southern' restaurants - locovore produce, grass-fed beef, etc."

      Hear the tunes at Shindig on the Green. "It's held most Saturday nights in summer in Pack Square Park ( It's free and live mountain music. Related to that is the Mountain Dancing Festival (, the oldest event of its kind in the United States. It starts 'long about sundown and is held the first weekend in August." John Bordsen


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      History of Earthquakes in North Carolina

      8/24/2011 - History of Earthquakes in North Carolina

      by Anne Blythe - News & Observer

      Just to give some more information - and to show this isn't "the norm" for Western North Carolina!!!  Earthquakes rarely happen here, and when they do, we barely feel them.  So forget all that, and come see the leaves - coming soon to a mountain near you!


      Most people think of California when they hear about earthquakes. But North Carolina has a history with quakes, too. Among them:

      March 8, 1735 - The first North Carolina earthquake on record hit near Bath.

      1811-1812 - The great earthquakes centered in the Mississippi Valley near New Madrid, Mo., were felt throughout North Carolina.

      1874 - Western North Carolina residents, particularly those in McDowell County, could feel the earth move about 75 times between Feb. 10 and April 17.

      Jan. 18, 1884 - An earthquake shook houses in Wilmington, rattling crockery off shelves.

      Aug. 6, 1885 - Reports of houses rocking violently and dishes rattling near Blowing Rock.

      Aug. 31, 1886 - A major earthquake near Charleston, S.C., caused about 60 deaths near the epicenter and widespread property damage. In North Carolina, there were reports of toppled chimneys, fallen plaster and cracked walls in Charlotte, Raleigh, Hillsborough, Elizabethtown, Henderson, Abbottsburg, Waynesville and Whiteville.

      Jan. 1, 1913 - Chimneys in Kings Mountain fell from a shock in Union County, S.C. This earthquake was felt in Raleigh - about 180 miles away,

      Feb. 21, 1916 - One of the largest earthquakes within North Carolina borders was centered near Asheville. Damage was limited to cracked plaster and falling crockery.

      July 8, 1926 - A shock caused a broken water pipeline and cracked building foundations in southern Mitchell County.

      Nov. 2, 1928 - A tremor in Asheville created mild panic in a theater and caused damage in upper stories of buildings.

      March 5, 1958 - A shock occurred in the Wilmington area near the same place as the 1884 tremor.

      Dec. 13, 1969 - A minor earthquake with a sonic boom-like noise awakened many in Jackson County in the western part of the state. Rumbling noises were reported in North Carolina and South Carolina.

      June 4, 1998 - A 3.2 magnitude quake shook Davidson, about 20 miles north of Charlotte.

      Dec. 9, 2003 - A magnitude 4.5 earthquake recorded about 30 miles west of Richmond, Va., caused ripple effects in Raleigh and other parts of the Triangle.

      March 21, 2011 - A magnitude 2.9 earthquake shook portions of four counties southeast of Charlotte, nearly two weeks after the 9.0 quake that devastated Japan.

      Read more: Earthquake History of North Carolina -

      Check out more recent info here:


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