One of the toughest things about moving back to North Carolina is driving for a long time to go hiking. Well that, and missing the 500,000 acre ‘dog park’ that was the Chugach State Park in our backyard.
I wanted to be outdoors. As did Moose & Sasha. So this weekend, we decided to go and explore.
When I was researching hiking in North Carolina, I came across the Carolina Mountain Club – a 92 year old organization based out of Asheville, but with a reach all within Western North Carolina. Their website has a really interactive Hike Search function, and the club has over 200 sponsored hikes a year (Every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday!)
They’ve also got some really challenges that are exciting for goal oriented people (like me!). You pick a challenge, work your way though it, and get an award for finishing. This weekend, the pups and I decided to start on the Pisgah 400 Challenge.
Matt was taking a mountaineering course with Fox Mountain Guides in Pisgah/Brevard, so I decided to join in the same area. I drove up on Saturday and set up my stuff at Matt’s campsite and got the dogs ready to explore. Sasha isn’t the young pup she used to be, and has developed the hip problems that plague Bernese Mountain Dogs (She’s a mix), as well as some back issues. She can’t hike for a long time, but she still tries and often times overdoes it. So when I was planning out what trails we would explore, I picked several short ones so that when she reached her limit we could stop.
The trails we decided to tackle were the Andy Cove Nature Trail, the Exercise Trail, and the Slick Rock Falls Trail.
The Andy Cove Nature trail is an easy and short hike, only .7 miles, and pretty flat. It kicked off at the Pisgah Visitor Center, and had some cool information plaques along the route.
The Exercise Trail was really flat, and double the length (1.5 miles). This one was odd to follow because it kept going through campsites and crossing the road which is tough when you’ve got one dog who wants to zoom across the road (Moose) and the other who takes her sweet time (Sasha).
My favourite trail that we tackled was the Slick Rock Falls Trail. It was 1.4 miles round trip, and considered moderate difficulty. When I was parking at the trail head, I met two guys who were preparing to go climbing, so the pups and I walked with them along the trail. The scenery was absolutely beautiful with the leaves changing and all of the colors! It was a steeper hike, with a river crossing and some big boulders to climb. By the time we reached the top, Sasha was absolutely pooped! We rested for a while and watched our new friends climb until Sasha decided that she was ready to move on.
Once we got back to the trailhead, I realized Sasha was done for the day, so we loaded up and began the 2.5 hour drive home. One thing that made me laugh was that – unknowingly – Matt & I were on the same trail. His Mountaineering course was using a section of the rock wall. It was such a pleasant surprise to see his vehicle parked so close to mine at the trailhead, and to field all of the Alaska questions I was asked by other hikers coming down the trail.
So I’ve knocked out 3 of the 122 trails in the Pisgah 400! I’m hoping to be able to get back to the Pisgah area once a month to continue hiking and exploring, ideally with Moose & Matt in tow.
How do you find new trails to explore when you travel?