Our featured North Carolina icon this week is the Appalachian Trail. It’s number 6 on Our State magazine’s list of 100 North Carolina Icons. They say, “Take a hike. It doesn’t have to be a long one to enjoy the beauty of the AT.” The Appalachian Trail is 2,184 feet long, reaching from Georgia to Maine. It was built by private citizens between 1921 and 1937. Today it’s maintained by many clubs and volunteers and is managed by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. You can learn more about the Appalachian Trail, and other North Carolina icons, from the State Library of North Carolina. The Appalachian Trail has many hikers every year, from people going for a day trip to those who hike the entire trail. Whatever your pursuit, we hope these books will help you.
Joe Miller brings us the first-ever stand-alone guidebook to backpacking in North Carolina, a state long known as a terrific backpacking destination. Covering 43 of the best trips the state has to offer (including 5 on the Appalachian Trail), Backpacking North Carolina provides all the information necessary for beginning and experienced backpackers alike to enjoy hiking destinations from the mountains to the coast. Each trip description offers key maps and navigation information, including water sources and camping spots, as well as trip highlights and special considerations. Miller offers tips for enriching the experience, such as filling dark nights with stargazing and other activities, and gives advice for backpacking with children. Offering his expertise in a way that emphasizes the accessibility of backpacking, Miller encourages a wide range of nature lovers to give it a try, perhaps for the first time. Several “best-of” lists are included, featuring trips with exceptional nature study opportunities, water recreation, and easy excursions for beginners. Backpacking North Carolina takes the reader deep into a state full of natural wonder and adventure.
Walking the Blue Ridge: A Guide to the Trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway by Leonard M. Adkins is a classic Parkway trail guide that includes hikes for every skill and interest level, from five-minute “leg-stretchers” to overnight hikes. Veteran hiker Adkins describes every one of the more than 100 official Blue Ridge Parkway walking trails along with every other trail (more than 70) that comes in contact with the Parkway. (Chapter 3 is all about the Appalachian Trail.) He details each walk, noting exact length, points of interest, and natural features.
If you want immediate gratification, go get the 3rd edition, above, right now. If you’re planning next summer’s hikes, you can pre-order the next edition of Adkins’s book, Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will be published in June 2013. In this edition you’ll find GPS coordinates for official Parkway trailheads, along with fifty maps and many photographs of what you’ll see along the way. Adkins notes each trail’s length, difficulty, points of interest, handicap accessibility, and natural features.
Far more than a guide to the trails, this book also tells you what to expect at overlooks, as well as where to dine, sleep, and find a restroom, and suggests worthwhile side trips. Elevation change charts for bicyclists, minimum tunnel heights for RVs, camping recommendations, roadside bloom calendars, sightseeing information for nearby towns, and other advice make this the perfect companion for your next Parkway adventure.
Remember to keep track of our NC Icons tag while we continue to post weekly updates of things to do and places to visit in North Carolina.