One of my favorite waterfall hikes in the southern Appalachians is the Rainbow Falls Trail in western North Carolina, just south of Lake Toxaway. Beginning in Gorges State Park, the 4-mile (round-trip) trail soon enters Pisgah National Forest, where it follows the Horsepasture River (a designated Wild and Scenic River) along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Four waterfalls occur along this stretch of the river, including Rainbow Falls, a near-vertical cascade about 125 feet high with a large plunge pool at the base. Few waterfalls in the southern Appalachians are as spectacular (and powerful) as this one.
Yosemite National Park made the evening news on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reached the top of El Capitan by ascending Yosemite’s Dawn Wall. The climbers’ years of preparation, 19-day free-climb, and personal stories riveted television audiences nationwide. News programs also gave audiences a rare treat: panoramic views of the park’s natural beauty that included cascading waterfalls, granite formations, and snow-dusted trees.
Yet Yosemite almost did not become a national park.
Waterfalls are constantly changing. A rapid surge in stream flow following a heavy rain can turn a modest waterfall into a raging torrent of water. Dry periods can transform a waterfall into a trickle of water (much to the disappointment of waterfall enthusiasts). A slight breeze can elicit a shimmering spray, and if the light is right, a colorful rainbow. If passing clouds obscure the sun, the brightly reflective waterfall changes to softer hues, and the rainbow vanishes into thin air.
Controversy rages over fire policy in Linville Gorge, which was the first designated Federal Wilderness in the East with the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Currently, the policy is to suppress any fires that threaten manmade structures, but to allow lower-intensity lightning-strike fires to burn. The latest management plan proposes prescribed burns in the Gorge to promote pines and rare plants and to reduce fuel loads. Homeowners in the Gingercake Acres development, perched on the eastern rim of the Gorge, understandably worry about risk to their homes. Advocacy organizations like Save the Linville Gorge Wilderness argue that fire destroys the wild character of the landscape. Skeptics scoff that the Forest Service maintains only an illusion of control over something as unpredictable and powerful as fire.
I think most of us are “destination-oriented”—focused on the trail’s end, the scenic vista, the waterfall. Many of our hikes have points of interest such as these, because we love them too. By using our book, you can become a “journey” person as well, someone who sees something new and exciting around each bend in the trail. We want you to start seeing the forest intimately, instead of a background of green noise.
As a member of the intellectual elite in the Virginia colony, how did William Byrd II understand weather, the seasons, and their effects on the land?
Our State strongly recommends a trip out to the beloved Outer Banks where you can visit the barrier islands and, “In Corolla and Shackleford Banks, you can see North Carolina’s most famous horses.”
Our State explains the best way to appreciate the pioneer’s of aviation: “Stand at the base of the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, right where it all began.” Then, just a few miles to the south you can visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home to the East Coast’s tallest active sand dune, where Our State recommends, “Want to be a daredevil? Try hang-gliding. Rather keep your feet in the sand? Fly a kite.
In an interview with North Carolina Bookwatch host D. G. Martin, Riggs talks about the richness of resources and the comparatively pristine state of North Carolina’s coastline and barrier islands.
Red wolves are shy, elusive, and misunderstood predators. Until the 1800s, they were common in the longleaf pine savannas and deciduous forests of the southeastern United States. However, habitat degradation, persecution, and interbreeding with the coyote nearly annihilated them. Today, reintroduced red wolves are found only in peninsular northeastern North Carolina within less than 1 percent of their former range. In The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf, nature writer T. DeLene Beeland shadows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s pioneering recovery program over the course of a year to craft an intimate portrait of the red wolf, its history, and its restoration.
The National Weather Service is in the middle of their National Hurricane Preparedness Week, running from May 26–June 1. The website provides a helpful Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide with meteorological information on hurricanes, the many hazards that occur both during and after the storm, and a checklist precautions to take to ensure your safety through the six-month hurricane season.
Our State describes the variety of the region: “Southern Pines is the horse capital of N.C., Pinehurst is the golf capital, and Candor is the peach capital.” Stretching into South Carolina and Georgia, the Sandhills are also known for a dry climate, sandy soils (hence the success of peaches), and vast Longleaf Pine forests that support threatened and endangered species like the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
Newly published this spring at UNC Press, Philip Gerard’s Down the Wild Cape Fear: A River Journey through the Heart of North Carolina is the perfect compliment for any trip out to the Cape Fear River.
The first essay, “Three Elephants in the Basement,” allowed me to transport the reader back to a time not very long ago—just a comma and three zeroes ago—when the land that would become North Carolina was populated by three species of elephant and a menagerie of strange animals as large as any in Africa today.
Botanist C. Ritchie Bell, one of UNC Press’s best known and most influential authors, passed away this month in Chapel Hill at the age of 91.
For me, every story is a journey, so the format was natural: follow the river and pause at each interesting bend to reveal its story—its natural and human history, the way it has shaped our life and politics.
Filmed in the serenity of a longleaf forest, the book trailer not only introduces audiences to the authors, but also provides a glimpse at the book’s sublime photography.
Now available: an omnibus e-book that combines John Yow’s delightful books The Armchair Birder and The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal.
Our featured North Carolina icon this week is the Appalachian Trail. There are thousands of different species of plants and animals along the Appalachian Trail, varying as the trail goes through different climates. There are 2,000 rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.
Our Holiday Sale is now underway! If you need some gift ideas for the folks on your list, our Southern Gateways catalog is a great place to start. Southern Gateways is where we collect of all our general interest books about this region we call home.