The vast Pisgah National Forest is the perfect example of its kind. It has waterfalls, streams, towering trees, beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and an abundance of wildlife. Activities include birdwatching, swimming, canoeing, whitewater rafting, hiking, mountain biking and climbing. BBOnline has compiled a forest guide just for you.
Pisgah National Forest
Barnardsville, North Carolina 28709
The waterfalls in the forest are a major draw. The 60-foot-tall Looking Glass Falls can be easily accessed from the roadside (Highway 276), which makes it a highly popular attraction. The clear pool at the bottom invites a swim. You can actually slide down the famous Sliding Rock Falls which rushes over a massive rock. Lifeguards are on duty and a there's a changing station.
Hiking in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area
A hike in this wilderness in Pisgah National Forest is worth the drive from your comfortable Barnardsville Bed and Breakfast. The climbs and descents are not steep and the view from the top of the balds is spectacular, even in the nights with millions of stars above you. You'll find wild blueberries in season and gorgeous fall foliage. This high elevation area lies just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The area has waterfalls and meadows with magnificent views. The Shining Rock Trail is short and steep, climbing to 160 feet. On a clear day you can see 70 miles into the distance. In the heat of July, this climb in the cold, fresh mountain air is wonderful. In June, rhododendron and azalea bloom on the trail.
Linville Gorge Wilderness in Pisgah National Forest
Many refer to this area as the "Grand Canyon of the East." Linville Gorge is one of the most breathtaking and untamed places in the Pisgah National Forest. Once shunned by lumberjacks because of its ruggedness, it is a haven for serious hikers. It has soaring cliffs and steep terrain. Virgin stands of hemlock, hickory and poplar and dense rhododendron thickets are home to deer and black bears. In spring, the trails are lush with Large Flowered Trillium and Toad Trillium. In the summer, white spires of Galax mark the ridgetop trails. You'll also find rare species of plants like Heller's Blazing Star and Mountain Golden Heather in this magical place. Horseback riding is allowed in this protected area.
The unruly and rocky Linville River attracts whitewater enthusiasts and rock climbers. Two of the finest climbing destinations, Shortoff Mountain and Table Rock, soar above the east rim of the gorge. The multilevel Linville Falls cascade down 90 feet. You should hike here on a weekday in summer, because weekends can be crowded. The busiest trails at this time are Babel Tower and Spence Ridge. You can also visit the gorge from your cozy Barnardsville Inn during late fall to early spring, when the bugs are absent and the snakes are sluggish.