Best of the Outdoors in Western North Carolina

Smokies - Mt. Sterling

This week, the Mountain Xpress came out with it “Best of” 2011. It’s done by a popular vote. I immediately turned to the Best of the Outdoors.

Here’s what Asheville people voted for:

Best Hike with a View:

1.  Max Patch – great view. It’s a 0.25 mile hike and over an hour’s drive from Asheville.

2.  Black Balsam – Another outstanding view. Maybe 0.8 mile and almost an hour, slower if you get hung up behind a leafpeeper on the Blue Ridge Parkway

3.  Craggy Pinnacle – Fantastic view. It’s less than a half-mile – maybe a 45 minute drive

Does that say anything about what people are voting for? Have you been to Mt. Sterling in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Amazing view. See the photo on top.

The shortest way up is still 2.5 miles (These are all one-way distances) and it’s about 90 minutes from Asheville.

Best Hiking Trail:

1.  Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Wonderful! There’s almost 1,000 miles of the MST, over 300 miles in the mountains. I wonder what people had in mind when they voted for this trail.

2.  Graveyard Fields – A great trail, part of the MST.

3.  Bent Creek – Bent Creek Trail is not the best hiking trail, not in any sense of the word. It is close to the center of Asheville. People run, hike, mountain bike and walk their dogs. It’s a service area.

What didn’t get mentioned is the Smokies. Here we are so lucky to have the most visited park in the United States in our backyard and it didn’t make the top three of either category.

Boy are we spoiled!



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