Carolina Hiking Essentials from Our Outdoor Pursuits Team at The Cliffs
Carolina hiking trails are some of the best in the country –– and whether you’re hitting the trail for a quick day hike or an overnight expedition, The Cliffs’ Outdoor Pursuits team wants to help you make the most of your adventure.
In this post, our experts share their recommendations for some of the tools you shouldn’t leave home without, as well as some of the most popular hiking trails to explore this spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
1. Appropriate Attire and Gear
To guarantee you are comfortable while on the trail, wearing the appropriate attire is vital. Consider wearing moisture-wicking clothing to keep you cool and dry, especially for longer hikes. You may also want to bring a rain jacket just in case the weather changes unexpectedly. Be sure to stop by your community pro shops to see what we have in stock before ordering online or buying from a large retailer.
When choosing footwear, look for shoes that have a soft, flexible sole that will provide support and protection from the rocks you may encounter on your hike. Most trails in the area will only require lightweight trail running shoes, as they provide the necessary traction to confidently trek along the terrain. For rough, rocky landscapes typically found on strenuous trails, hiking boots will provide hikers with more support.
Also, remember to bring along a compact day pack to help you carry all of the necessary supplies for your hike. For longer camping trips, you will require additional gear such as a sleeping bag, tent, and cooking equipment.
2. Food & Water
Perhaps the most important item to bring along on your hike is plenty of water. It’s crucial you stay hydrated, whether you’ll be on the trail for a few hours or a few days. For shorter trips, packing an extra water bottle should do the trick, but for longer backpacking trips, water treatment supplies are a must.
Also, having a quick snack on the trail may give you the burst of energy you need to reach the summit. Some great options include wholesome energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, and jerky. For extended backpacking trips, freeze-dried meals are an option you can find at most outdoor stores. Keep in mind that they may require additional cooking equipment, so plan accordingly.
Whether a GPS-enabled device, classic compass, or trail map –– be sure to bring along some form of navigation in case you stray off the trail and need assistance to find your way back.
4. Sun Protection
Even on a cloudy day or under the cover of trees, you’ll want to keep your skin protected from the sun’s rays. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended for extended outdoor activity — and an SPF-rated lip balm and pair of sunglasses are always a good idea.
5. First Aid Supplies
Whether it be blisters from a new pair of boots or a scrape from a fall –– accidents sometimes happen when out on the trail. For day trips, it’s always best to be prepared with a simple first aid kit that includes adhesive bandages, disinfecting ointment, and over-the-counter pain medication. Longer backpacking trips may require additional supplies.
From the blooming wildflowers to rushing waterfall and panoramic viewpoints on the mountain tops, you’ll want to bring a camera to capture all of the beauty you see along the trails. Whether it’s a professional-grade DSLR, a handy point-and-shoot, or simply your smartphone, make some room in your bag for a camera.
7. Portable Charger
Bringing a portable charger will ensure your electronic devices are always fully-charged and ready to go when you need them most. When choosing a portable charger, keep in mind how long you plan to be out on the trail. For longer trips, you will want to pack a charger that has the capability to completely charge your device multiple times.
Spring Carolina Hiking Trails
Spring is one of the most wonderful times of the year to plan a hiking trip in the Carolinas. The fresh mountain air, blossoming foliage, and spectacular views make for an unforgettable experience everyone will enjoy.
Throughout the region, you’ll find a number of trails that offer a different challenge. So, whether you’re a novice or a more experienced hiker, you’ll be sure to find a trail that satisfies your craving for adventure. Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular trails amongst our members at The Cliffs.
Located near Asheville, Bearwallow Mountain is a short, 1-mile hike with rewarding vistas. At 4,232 feet above sea-level, the views from the grassy meadow at its summit are breathtaking. There is also a new, 2-mile connector trail that hikers can take to explore the Wildcat Rock Trail and extend their journey.
Boasting the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain in Headwaters State Forest is an example of Carolina hiking at its finest. The 4.2-mile Foothills Trail takes you from Chimney Top access to the overlook and back. At the top, hikers will admire panoramic views of North and South Carolina, as well as Georgia.
Raven Cliff Falls
The Raven Cliff Falls trail is a 3.7-mile out-and-back trail in Cleveland, SC that visits a breathtaking 400-foot waterfall and features a suspension bridge over the falls at the hike’s halfway point. The hike is classified as moderately difficult and takes about three hours to complete.
Black Balsam Knob
A beginner-friendly trail located just off the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, the Black Balsam Knob hike allows for sweeping, panoramic views across bald mountaintops. It forms part of the 30.1-mile Art Loeb trail, one of the most popular trails in the state of North Carolina.
This hike in nearby Jones Gap State Park combines the Pinnacle Pass Trail and Rim of the Gap Trail for a 6.2-mile hike with almost 2,500 feet of elevation gain. This strenuous, 4-hour hike passes by picturesque streams, amazing lookouts, and massive boulder and rock formations.
Dupont Waterfall Hike
Known as one of the most famous forests in the Carolinas, Dupont State Forest has so much to offer hikers. There are many options on the 86-miles of multi-use trails that lead to the six waterfalls in the forest.
Outdoor Pursuits at The Cliffs
From exhilarating water sports in our Lake Region to mountain biking throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, the adventurous spirit is a significant part of our identity –– and thanks to our Outdoor Pursuits program, our members have exclusive access to a team of trained experts ready to share their knowledge and passion for the great outdoors.
Throughout the year, they lead regular hikes and guided excursions in the surrounding area. Not only do you get to explore the varying landscape’s flora and fauna, but it’s also the perfect way to get to know other members of your community.
Your Carolina Adventure Awaits
With access to private mountain and lake amenities within Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, our seven communities at The Cliffs are the perfect home for anyone who wants to be closer to the spectacular natural beauty of the area.
This post was originally written on April 4th, 2018, and rewritten on March 17th, 2021.