Lowesville, VA - Just west of Charlottesville, the Appalachian Mountains rise and the Blue Ridge Parkway snakes northwards. Just off the parkway, Three Ridges rises prominently and hosts some excellent hiking and camping. The hiking loop utilizes both the Appalachian Trail and the Mau-Har Trail to form a moderate to strenuous 2-day hike. At a length of 13 miles (round-trip), this hike has a maximum elevation difference of 2130′ and features some amazing vistas.
West Augusta, VA - A short drive west on US 250 leaving Staunton, travelers will come upon another slice of the remote George Washington National Forest. Here, a rocky mountain stream and wooded valley surrounded by towering mountains help to create an awesome loop trail. At a length of 16.8 miles (round-trip), this strenuous hike ascends around 2000′ and makes a perfect weekend trip.
After climbing the Shuckstack Fire Tower, you’re above the trees. Note the stark contrast between the aging steel and fresh green leaves, it’s nice.
Fontana Dam, NC - Shortly after Appalachian Trail hikers cross the Fontana Dam, they quickly ascend onto the higher peaks of the Smokey Mountain National Park. On this ascent, one can take a short detour and explore the abandoned Shuckstack Fire Tower. Brave hikers can climb to the top of the tower for an awesome view of the surrounding valleys and Fontana Lake. At a length of 3.3 miles (one-way), this section of the Appalachian Trail ascends around 2120′ and can be finished in around 4 hours (out and back).
Pleasant Grove, NC - The Chestnut Knob Trail is located in South Mountain State Park, just southwest of Hickory. Starting at the Jacob Fork parking area, a short hike past the picnic area and amphitheater on the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail leads to the trailhead. Although it starts out steep, the trail levels off and makes a gentle climb to the top of Chestnut Knob, before heading out to the overlook. At 1.8 miles (one-way), the trail ascends around 918′ and can be finished in around 2 hours (out and back).
Albemarle, NC - Hattaway Mountain is a modest mountain in central portion of Morrow Mountain State Park. As part of Uwharrie Mountains, it is one of the oldest mountains in North America. Starting at the park’s swimming pool, the trail moves counter-clockwise around the base of the mountain, before heading up to the summit and returning back down to the start . Totaling at almost 2 miles (total), the trail ascends to a point 436′ higher than where you start and can be finished in around 1 hour (total).
Because it had been a while since our great Northeast Train Trip, Janis and I decided it would be fun to travel up to the New York City area for New Years. We embarked on the morning of the 30th, driving all day to get there, fortunately only hitting moderate traffic around DC. The next day, we set off and did some sight seeing in the town of Red Bank, hiking through the marshes of Sandy Hook, bowling in the largest bowling alley Janis and I have ever seen and watched fireworks in the city of New Brunswick. On Sunday, we closed out our trip in the city, walking through a snowy Central Park and seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center. View the Gallery »