For our friends in Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Viriginia, here are popular hiking trails for you, courtesy of Trails.com.
Black Creek Trail: Fairley Bridge Landing to Janice Landing in Wiggins – This 16.6-mile hike requires moderate skill level and begins its upstream trek in the lower Black Creek valley before making its way to the Red Hills before briefly turning toward the Mississippi River and away again to hill country and through the Black Creek Wilderness. The trail exits the wilderness at a parking area near Janice Landing.
Black Creek Trail: Janice Landing to Big Creek Landing in Wiggins – This 24.1-mile continuation of the lower trail mentioned above requires moderate skill level and closely follows Black Creek, providing easy access to cool waters and white sandbars. Hikers should closely monitor white blazes as the trail can be hard to follow at times. The trail features numerous swamps, sloughs and wetlands that play host to pitcher plants. Moodys Landing provides great river views. The trail travels near the site of an old, abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps camp and then crosses a highway before returning to Black Creek.
Mount Mitchell in Asheville – Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, is one of the most cherished parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). The summit is only a five-mile detour from the BRP. The 1,700-acre Mt. Mitchell State Park, North Carolina’s first state park, includes six of the 10 highest peaks in eastern North America. This trail includes three hiking options, Mt. Mitchell Trail to Mt. Mitchell, Balsam Nature Trail and Black Mountain Crest Trail, varying in difficulty from easy to strenuous.
Grandfather Mountain in Linville – Grandfather Mountain is a rocky, spectacular summit known to tourists for great views and Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Grandfather Mountain’s 4,000 acres are home to 43 species of rare or endangered plants and animals. This trail includes three hiking options, Tanawha Trail and Daniel Boone Scout Trail to Calloway Peak, Grandfather Trail and Profile Trail, varying in difficulty from easy to strenuous.
Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to Roan High Bluff & Rhododendron Gardens in Bakersville – This 5.60-mile loop requires moderate skill level and features Roan Mountain, the largest of the southern Appalachian grassy balds, and boasts beautiful Catawba rhododendron. This moderate hike features two high points, excellent views and several different mountain habitats. This section of the AT goes from Carvers Gap to the site of the Cloudland Hotel and features two additional U.S. Forest Service trails.
Black Mesa - Oklahoma Highpoint in Kenton – This 8.4-mile moderate hike is not recommended for young children. Hikers should watch out for rattlesnakes and be aware that there is no water available leaving the trailhead and should carry and consume at least 2 quarts of water during this hike. Kenton is the only town in Oklahoma on Mountain Time. Average time: 3 – 5 hours.
Raven Cliff Falls in Greenville – This 6.6-mile, moderate skill day hike travels to one of the highest and most scenic cascades in the eastern United States. Raven Cliff Falls now features a swinging footbridge and hikers have two choices - go to the overlook for a spectacular, slightly distant, view of the gorgeous falls or walk to the suspension bridge and stand right above the falls.
Jones Gap Trail in Greenville – This 10.6-mile, relatively easy day hike travels along the scenic Middle Saluda River from Jones Gap State Park to Caesar's Head State Park. The Jones Gap Trail was built in the 1840s by Solomon Jones as a toll road. Legend says that Jones would release a pig into the woods, believing it would take the easiest path. The trail follows the Middle Saluda River.
Huntington Beach State Park in Myrtle Beach (photo on left)– This easy 8.7-mile day hike travels through freshwater and saltwater marshes, sandy beaches and maritime forests in a state bird habitat. Huntington Beach State Park is a relatively secluded and well-preserved 2,500-acre expanse of undeveloped beach with easy public access. The Sandpiper Pond Trail provides hikers with a pleasant journey through layers of coastal ecosystems.
Alum Cave Bluffs in Gatlinburg – This 4.6-mile moderate day hike is a must. Highlights include: Cascading Creek, Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluffs views. This is a very popular hike, so unless hikers take to the trail in winter, expect company.
Big Frog Mountain Trail in Ocoee – This 5.6-mile moderate hike offers outstanding views of the surrounding mountains, including the Cohutta Wilderness to the south and the Tennessee Valley to the west. Numerous possibilities also exist for loop trips and point-to-point trips.
Maddron Bald Overnight Loop in Waynesville – This moderate skill level, two-night trip travels 17.8 miles and is one of the most popular backpacking loops in the entire park. The trail travels along the lower reaches of Gabes Mountain, passes Henwallow Falls and offers virgin woodland to camp at Sugar Cove. On the second day, hikers head up to Albright Grove, which contains some of the park's largest trees. Hikers camp along a creek near Maddron Bald, which sports awe-inspiring views both above and below. The return trip travels Snake Den Trail.
Enchanted Rock in Austin – This 5-mile easy day hike loops onto and around a large pink granite dome and provides rock climbers with excellent rock face. Permits are required for camping.
Lost Maples in San Antonio – About 50 miles southwest of Kerrville, this 4.6-mile easy day hike travels through bigtooth maples in a narrow Hill Country canyon. Permits are required for camping.
Dinosaur Valley in Ft. Worth – About 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth, this 4.3-mile easy day hike travels through the hills above the Paluxy River and features dinosaur tracks and exceptional views. Permits are required for camping.
Brazos Rivers in Houston – About 45 miles southwest of Houston, this four-mile easy day hike follows along part of the Brazos River and features a lush forest and red buckeyes in the spring before looping back.
Big Devils Stairs in Front Royal – This 5.4-mile moderate hike is an easy walk visited by few hikers. The nearly level Bluff Trail follows along the Big Devils Stairs canyon rim and offers a great view of the valley below and the mountains beyond. The site also hosts a shelter used by through-hikers on the AT. Average time: 3.25 hours.
Whiteoak Canyon Falls in Stanley – This 5.6-mile hike is great for families with children. Six numbered falls start from the Blue Ridge Mountains and end at the base of the canyon. This classic Shenandoah hike offers canyon views and unmatched beauty.
Great Falls Park in Great Falls – This easy 3.4-mile hike weaves land and history throughout Great Falls Park and includes the spot where George Washington championed a canal to skirt the Potomac River’s 77-foot “great falls.” The trail features canal ruins, inspired views over Mather Gorge, wildflowers and historical ruins. The terrain features rocky cliff tops, dirt footpaths, dirt roads, riverside trails, hardwood forests and marsh. Average time: 2 hours.
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[Photo Credit: Trails.com]