Tag: Jonathan Farber

4 Destinations Every Hiker Should Visit

Hiking and the great outdoors is a major passion of mine. And while I typically tend to stick to North Carolina’s great outdoors, I am always open to other areas of interest. So, in the spirit of all things backpacking and hiking related, here are four destinations around the country that are sure to make any first time hiker get hooked.

Adirondack Mountains, New York

Typically whenever New York is mentioned, people assume the city is all that New York offers. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. As the United States’ 27th largest state, with over 54,000 square miles, New York has a wealth of gorgeous wilderness to explore. Located only four hours from New York City, the Adirondack Mountains features some of the state’s most gorgeous views and mountain ranges. Featuring a 6-million acre forest and hundreds of mountains (46 of which are taller than 4,000 feet), the Adirondack Mountains are sure to entice any and all hikers.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

This glorious mountain is only 50 miles away from Portland. The best way to experience the stratovolcano is to hike its 40-mile Timberline Trail. The trail winds up and down through Hood’s gorgeous alpine meadows. But if simply hiking around the mountain isn’t good enough, rest assured that you can climb to Hood’s peak. The 6.8 mile Hogsback Route allows hikers, both novices and experts alike, to climb to the mountain’s 11,000+ peak. There are a multitude of methods to enjoy this natural beauty, so choose the one that suits you and enjoy.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee/North Carolina

More of a series of five peaks and less of an actual mountain, Roan Mountain still has plenty to offer for hikers. Enjoy its many woods, rhododendron gardens and its grassy balds. The choice is yours. Roan Mountain is also home to some gorgeous wildlife, including wild horses.

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Exotic wildlife, historic forests and breathtaking meadows await anyone who visits this national park. Even with all of that, Rainier’s most prized possession has to be its 14,410-foot volcano. If you’re looking for something specific to do, as opposed to wandering aimlessly through its wildflower meadows, try hiking through the Sunrise Rim Trail. The 5.2-mile trail grants visitors amazing views of the North Cascades, the Tatoosh Range and Mt. Tahoma. Still not satisfied? Then opt for the somewhat longer 17-mile Mother Mountain loop. Either way you go, you are sure to fall in love with the park, ensuring multiple visits for years to come.

The United States is littered with thousands of breathtaking views, from thousands of parks, ranges and mountains. This is only a small taste of what this beautiful country has to offer. For a larger list of locations that are sure to whet your wilderness appetite, be sure to check out Backpacker.com. Hopefully this small list gives you an idea of where to go.

10 OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA

“From the mountains to the woodlands to the coast, family experiences unfold on a variety of landscapes,” says Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist for VisitNC. “We are also a state with a full range of seasons, so there’s a variety of things to do all year.”

With so many options, finding the perfect destination for your next vacation or day trip can be a difficult decision. So to help, here are my top picks of fun outdoors activities to do in North Carolina:

See the wild horses along North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina’s coast is home to several groups of wild horses: Corolla’s Wild Spanish mustangs; Beaufort’s wild horses at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, Quarter horses, Shackleford Banks’ wild Banker horses; and Ocracoke’s Banker horses. In general, you can see the horses for free. All you need to see the horses in Corolla is a four-wheel drive vehicle so you can drive on the beach. Don’t have one? Several businesses offer four-wheel-drive guided tours.

Watch the sunset on top of Jockey’s Ridge.

There are very few spots in North Carolina where you can watch the sun set into a large body of water, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of them. Through its popular Sunset on the Ridge summer program, you can climb to the top of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. and watch the sun descend into the Roanoke Sound with the Atlantic Ocean behind you.

Take a plunge down Sliding Rock.

What could be more fun than a natural water slide?! Beat the heat this summer in North Carolina’s cool mountain water. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide. At the base, there’s a 6-foot-deep pool for a refreshing splash at the end of your exhilarating slide.

See a bald eagle at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has the largest population of bald eagles in the eastern U.S., and the best time to see one is during the spring migration (April-June). Arrive early morning or near dusk to increase your chances of spotting America’s national bird and find a location that gives you a wide view of the lake. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Admire the blue ghost fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Chasing backyard fireflies at dusk is a favorite childhood activity, but you’ve probably never seen fireflies quite like these. Instead of a yellow glow, the blue ghost fireflies of Transylvania and Henderson counties emit a steady blue glow along the forest floor. The eerie light show is only about four weeks long starting in May and disappearing by mid-June. Check the Friends of DuPont State Forest website or call for information about occasional guided tours.

Climb to the top of Hatteras Lighthouse.

It’s a pretty steep climb with 257 steps, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. You’ll also have a great view of the lighthouse’s previous home before it was relocated in 1999. The self-guided climb is not recommended for young children because of narrow stairs and only one handrail on one side.

Cross the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Named for its elevation, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge spans an 80-foot chasm. Originally built in 1952, the bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using galvanized steel for the cables, rails and floor boards. While there, visit the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum, the 11 hiking trails and the seven wildlife habitats to see different animals such as deer, bald eagles, bears and more!

Visit the site of the first U.S. gold rush.

When you think of a gold rush, California immediately comes to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that the first gold rush in the U.S. actually occurred in North Carolina. NC state also led in gold production until 1848. Reed Gold Mine is now a historic site open for tours.

Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.

Take an elevator or make the strenuous climb up 26 stories of stairs to reach the iconic monolith, which is 535 million years old. From the top, enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

While exploring the park, kids will love the discovery stations on the Great Woodland Adventure, an easy .6-mile hike to discover the lives of frogs, owls, chipmunks and more. Also, don’t miss Grady’s Animal Discovery Den with live animals, and make sure the kids visit Hickory Nut Falls, the second-highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Visit one of Blackbeard’s favorite islands.

While on the island of Ocracoke, visit Teach’s Hole, a channel named for Edward Teach, the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke was one of his favorite spots to drop anchor, and it’s also where he lost his life in a fierce battle. Young pirate fans will enjoy the Teach’s Hole “Blackbeard” exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden

Jonathan Farber PhDThe North Carolina Botanical Garden is a hidden gem located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and operated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The core mission statement of the Botanical Garden is: “To inspire understanding, appreciation, and conservation of plants in gardens and natural areas and to advance a sustainable relationship between people and nature,” (Ncbg.unc.edu). For over 40 years, the North Carolina Botanical Garden has been a leading education center and plant conservation in the southeast, committed to serving the public.

The University of North Carolina’s first botany professor, William Chambers Coker is one of the main founders of the Botanical Garden. In 1903, Coker taught his students outdoors by showing them various plants and trees located on campus. In the mid 1920’s, Coker and one of his most passionate students, Henry Roland Totten, came up with the idea to create a larger, complete garden area just south of the main campus. Later, in 1952, Trustees of the University dedicated 70 acres for development of the garden, with another 103 acres donated shortly after.

William Lanier Hunt, a former student of both Coker and Totten not only donated those 103 acres for the Garden, but he also helped establish the Garden’s membership support organization, now known as the Botanical Garden Foundation. In April of 1966, the Garden had its first public opening, offering Nature Trails throughout the Garden for all to enjoy.

Jonathan Farber PhDOver the years, the Garden has acquired major establishments, including the Coker Arboretum, the Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Battle Park, and the University of North Carolina Herbarium. The lands have expanded to over 700 acres and is now a nationally recognized conservation that offers a wide array of programs for those interested to participate in. Some of these programs include: conservation programs, horticultural therapy, botanical illustration, native plant studies, and educational collections.

In addition, the North Carolina Botanical Garden is a vital resource for experts studying wildflowers and native plants of North Carolina. Its Center for Plant Conservation is one of just 36 institutions throughout the United States to hold a National Collection of Endangered Species. The Garden is also a pioneer of various plant rescue techniques and was the first garden in North America to establish an exotic pest plant policy.

The North Carolina Botanical Garden is undoubtedly a beautiful resource that North Carolina is proud to own. For more information about the garden, please visit their website here.