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  • Reviews

    hiking
    2 months ago

    Not strenuous at all, but a nice wide, relatively flat walk along the riverside with smaller falls appearing first and then a beautiful high set of falls at the end of mile. Take your mom.

    hiking
    4 months ago

    Definitely the best of the summits in the nearby area above Montreat. (Hike to all of them while you’re up there.) Far fewer people than on the trails to the other peaks. Great view from the top.

    hiking
    4 months ago

    Make sure to visit Rattlesnake and walk the other trails once you’re above Montreat.

    4 months ago

    Beautiful. Moderate walk with superb views, especially at the top. Bring a lunch and a camera.

    hiking
    4 months ago

    Beautiful views, but lots of tourists. Easy walk to each site.

    hiking
    4 months ago

    Pretty woods and a view of the river and train tracks from the bluff. A nice walk. Not strenuous at all. A good place for a hammock and a book (or a nap) (or both).

    Oh, and the disc golf course is excellent!

    But, as mentioned by everyone else, the trail is marked terribly, so be willing to wander a bit or keep the trail map open (no trouble getting service while walking).

    walking
    5 months ago

    Calling this afternoon’s slow amble around Pine Tree Loop a hike would be an exaggeration of that word. It was a walk in the woods. The loop really is a slowly falling and rising bike trail.

    So save this one for a rainy day. Literally.

    Indeed, cool rainy sunsets might be invitations to slowly sip bourbon on the patio, but everyone should keep a local forest walk or three for warm rainy afternoons like today’s. It’s okay: get wet. Your clothes will dry after you replenish your soul.

    Walk slowly, look around, and stop frequently to listen to the symphony of water. The white patter of raindrops on the canopy, the occasional and inconsistent drips from laden leaves, the burbles and gurgles and swishes of creeks dancing.

    Today I had the trail to myself except for some birds and squirrels, and I watched a fox play in a puddle and deer sip from a low bank.

    And then, amid the green ripples under the changing percussions of falling drizzle, an older tree noisily added some twenty degrees to its ongoing topple. I’d swear that I heard a few wood nymphs cheer a life well- and long-lived and celebrate the many potentials of the new chapter in the resulting clearing.

    hiking
    5 months ago

    After walking past the fly fishermen, you’ll cross a wooden bridge 200 yards from the parking lot and then start walking past a half dozen pretty campsites along the river over the next half mile before the ascent begins. If you take the first right turn marked John Rock, you’ll ascend the easier counterclockwise route. If you prefer doing the harder altitudinal changes before reaching the rock face, then continue straight a while longer on the way up, and the turn at the second John Rock sign to make the steeper clockwise climb across the summit and ridge line (and past a few nice campsites up there) before reaching the Rock.

    The view of the valley and other hills from the rock face is beautiful, and if you walk down to the right, you can sit comfortably on a broad rock shelf facing Looking Glass Rock across the valley.

    I suspect that John (after whom the rock is named) was a yellow jacket because five or ten times many of his family members aggressively attacked several hikers to advertise their displeasure at the trespasses. Be careful!

    hiking
    5 months ago

    Nice, easy hike out to the remains of a remote lodge.

    walking
    5 months ago

    A heavily-trafficked roadside stop with an easy walk down stairs to a beautiful waterfall. Great for family photos and cooling off after the hike up Looking Glass Rock (a few miles away).

    hiking
    5 months ago

    The walk up primarily is a set of switchbacks that gradually rise across the face of the same forested slope: pretty and green, but the view doesn’t change for quite a while. When the view does change, though, it is simply breathtaking. I sat on a rock just on the outside of the main exit from the forest to have lunch and to hear people’s reactions as they emerged. Just as I had done, even having read the reviews, truly 100% vocalized some instant, quiet, and genuine, nearly spiritual, version of, “Oh, wow .”

    I’m a forest lover more than I am a balds fan, so this was a wonderful hour of quiet rolling green and pretty creeks. There are no big views here, but it’s a super walk and a great area to take a nap in a hammock. Another plus is that there are so many crossing trails and additional loops that your hike can be modified very easily.

    Note: this trail really is on the easy side of moderate, so don’t expect much of a workout on foot, and be careful trail cyclists.

    This is a great trail for hikers who like crossing through fields of wildflowers and high grasses. Watch out for snakes, of course, and don’t worry about the bees everywhere because they’ve got plenty to focus on other than you. The top of the hill provides nice views from flat rocks (again, snakes on warm days), so bring a camera and a snack for the summit.

    Lots of up and down over a short distance. Good for cardio training. Stop for a snack on the rocky overlook at the top of Little Butt (right side as you hike away from the parking lot).

    Take your time, pay attention to cyclists, don’t get mad at slow drivers ahead of you, bring food and hiking shoes (even if you had planned only to drive), and pull over every time you want.

    hiking
    6 months ago

    The terrain here is beautiful, and the altitude changes nicely (but be careful about loose stones and slippery wetness). If you want to see how the different faces and altitudes of the region affect the trees and local insects (open grassy fields, hickory, berries, oak, various evergreens, bees among the rhododendrons and ragweed, flies on the bear and dog scat), this is a good trail for that purpose over just a few miles. Also, there are several crossing routes and side trails so that you can modify your hike to your needs, but remember to walk the extra mile or two to catch all of the falls.

    hiking
    6 months ago

    Ahhhhh... Back in the Appalachians. Despite my relatively high ratings of trails in (flat) Michigan and Florida, this one is qualitatively different. Superb. The system needs more than five stars so that I can nudge those others down a bit, but this is a real five-star trail. Pretty, well maintained despite its popularity, hilly, green and alive with a variety of flora and fauna, and punctuated with a lovely waterfall that’s a great place to watch people, to get wet, to picnic or hang a hammock, and to marvel at Nature’s creative paths and tableaux during her slow march forward. P.S. Remember to enjoy the drive along the Bluegrass Parkway with plenty of time for stopping at overlooks.

    hiking
    6 months ago

    A nice short hike. Parking seems crowded, but as long as you park off the side of the pavement near the designated hard-top parking spaces, you’ll be fine.

    The view from the top is superb, and it’s particularly great if you’re the only one up there, especially for a nap on the rocks in the sun. (But beware of snakes with similar ideas.)

    Not a trail for hammocks because it’s pretty narrow most of the way, but super if you want to test a rookie’s pace and stamina with moderate hiking in less than an hour.

    Except perhaps for some cities in Europe, I am most happy place-wise in the rolling hills of the Appalachians. I’ve never needed cliffs. Just some hardwoods and a couple thousand feet of altitudinal change without airplanes or asphalt too near. In North Florida I was lucky to have sinkholes and the scarp provide me a few similar rolls and a quiet place to hang my hammock only 20 minutes’ drive and 15 minutes’ walk into San Felasco. Southeast Michigan has been equally challenging. There are some pretty woods and nice lakes, but hills in the Midwest are rare. Today, though, I found my new day hike. Okay, the altitude rises and falls only a couple hundred feet, but that will do when the chipmunks are the loudest things around. Admittedly, I didn’t love the lakeside beach, but this Florida boy probably always will think of water below 65F as deadly unless it’s being consumed, so I’m not a great judge of that end of the trail. (The few people that I saw there with fishing poles and happy dogs seemed to love the lake, though, so I’m sure that it was lovely if that’s your thing.) The walk was a nice few hours, especially in the middle of the trail network because of the infrequency of overlaps between the bike and horse and hiking paths and because it was still just chilly enough to keep the crowds away while the first green leaves were peeking out.

    Okay, I know that I’m spoiled by years on the AT and hiking near the Blue Ridge, but I never thought about how exciting the marshlands of NFla are compared to marshes elsewhere. No worries about alligators or wild horses or boars here. Like most of SE Michigan, this trail is flat, so I decided to call this one a walk rather than a hike despite the small pack on my back. The trail is well-maintained, though often quite muddy, and it’s cool to be among the reefs and the trees along the edge of the lake, but this is really set up better for dog walkers, day runners who want to escape the pavement, and ecologists or naturalists looking for swans, geese, and explorations of which green things grow back first after the ice melts. I’d have given the walk a 2.5-star rating, but that choice isn’t available, and my downward vote comes primarily from the fact that half the park has a view of the landfill hill only a half-mile away.

    hiking
    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    In the flat landscape of Eastern Michigan, it’s always nice to find any change in altitude, even if just a few dozen feet, like in this two-mile loop and the other shorter trails in the woods along the water. The trail was well-marked by posts and footfalls despite a few days and inches of snow. This wander through the trees was a pretty and quiet hour and an easy walk.

    hiking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    Pine Mountain is beautiful, especially in the late autumn as the trees change color and the campsite crowds diminish. I love the many loops and sub-trails on the mountain that allow me to pick from among different types of views, lengths, and levels of difficulty (though none of the paths rate as difficult) depending on my mood, time of day/year, weather conditions, and whether I want to camp overnight along the hike. Mountain trail runners also love the main spine trail, but I prefer the quieter walks past waterfalls, through the woods, and among the rocky outcrops.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    Belle Isle is a superb getaway inside Detroit. Except for the closing of one end of the island for a month each year for the Grand Prix and my impatience waiting as the state eventually repairs and renovates all aspects of the park, most of the island is a great set of fields, gathering places, views of Detroit and Windsor, space for walks/jogs/bike rides, and occasional planned activities. The museum fills a nice hour, and the greenhouse and garden are maintained beautifully. The fountain and casino building are great for photos. The walk out to the lighthouse and on the trails across the little bridge is pretty, pleasant, and excellent for a lazy picnic or nap with a book. Watch the sunset, watch the variety of people, and watch the big container ships as you escape the hubbub of the city for a while.

    hiking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    I’ve only visited this trail in the snowy winter, but it was a beautiful walk through pretty forests and along a lakeside. Despite the cold and the snow, we weren’t the only hikers that morning, but the general peacefulness and relative solitude were sublime.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    I love the Riverfront — the cityscape of downtown, the view (and sometimes sounds) of Canada, the river with is otters and ice and ships, and the small landscapes along the walk (benches, gardens, a library box, harbors, a hill). The proximity to Belle Isle, Atwater Brewery, and festivals/shows at the various facilities along the way are bonuses. Don’t be confused; this isn’t a backpacker’s hike. But it’s a wonderful space for a walk or a run among people in the city while not surrounded by buildings and cars.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    If you want to see alligators up close and in the wild, this is the place. Horses, mosquitoes, birds, and fish almost always are present, as well, and lucky walkers occasionally see deer and/or families of wild boar ambling across the trail into the grassy side foliage. Along with Devil’s Millhopper, this is a must-see for visitors and new residents.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    The trail passes through pretty changes at the edge of the hammock and is a great place to see a big variety of typical North Florida — turtles, deer, palms, pines, squirrels, sand, ants, mosquitoes, mosses, oaks, flowering plants, and vines. Then comes the tower and the view onto Paynes Prairie, which is a totally separate experience, including glimpses of horses. If you have the stamina (not hard at all for adults, but I do remember the heaviness of my two-year-old!), and if the passage is dry enough to let you through, add the walk along the berm onto the prairie to see a unique vista. Bring snacks, water, and bug spray.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    Good for bikes and horses. Much of the trail is sandy and passes among flat stands of pines, but botanists will appreciate the subtle changes, especially in comparison with the nearby Devil’s Millhopper scenery.

    walking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    The trail itself is a simple flat loop through the woods around a sinkhole, but the sinkhole is stunning and a must-see for visitors to North Florida. Currently (after the high waters that filled several feet at the bottom of the sinkhole in summer 2017), the walk down is closed as the boardwalk is being repaired and perhaps re-routed a bit, so call the park to find out the status of the trails and boardwalk to avoid disappointment. (Volunteers hauled several vertical feet of wood from the boardwalk out of the sinkhole in December to help the park to move forward with new plans for the boardwalk).

    hiking
    Sunday, December 24, 2017

    The return of water in the past few years has reinvigorated the walk to how I remember it as a kid. The ravine is lovely and quite photogenic, and the walk out among the palmettos is pure North Florida. Don’t fail to notice the small bat houses along the way!

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