We asked Johnny Molloy about his favorite mountain hikes. He is the author of “Hiking North Carolina’s National Forests” (UNC Press; $45 hardcover, $22 paperback).
Highlands of Roan. “It has the largest number of natural Catawba rhododendrons in the world. This is a moderate trail in Pisgah National Forest, and when you start you’re immediately in a meadow of rhodos and you walk through miles of fields interspersed with them. The trail is on a high ridge on the Appalachian Trail, on the North Carolina-Tennesse border and you have unbelievably great views.”
Shining Rock Wilderness. “Many have heard of this area off the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the wilderness portion is actually of lower height and goes through rugged back country where nature is on display. And it’s nature at its overpowering finest, with enormous trees, big waterfalls and big streams. The trails are less maintained, so you have a challenging hike at the same time.”
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Glen Falls. “This is a nice little moderate hike along a stream called Overflow Creek, near Highlands. The creek is almost one continuous waterfall and on the hike you see so many different faces of it.”
Best for families
Jackrabbit Mountain loop trail. “This is near a campground on Lake Chatuge, in the Nantahala National Forest near the Georgia border. It’s a nice two-mile loop that goes by an old home site and along the lake. It has something to offer in every season.”
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. “Here you have a pretty easy two-mile loop trail; you can go as far as you want. Kilmer is notable for its collection of huge trees; a walk in this forest primeval makes you glad North Carolina’s national forests are preserved.”
Max Patch. “This is a nice loop trail near Hot Springs with an open meadow you can drive to for enjoying 360-degree mountain views. It’s fun to pick blackberries there in the summer.” John Bordsen