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The Top 4 Places to Hike and Photograph in North Carolina

Discover adventures and photography in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

By: Bryant Jordan + Save to a List

They say once you visit the Carolinas, you never leave. After living here for 8 months, I now have full understanding how a saying like that became so popular in the states. Being a student athlete, I find it extremely hard to make time for these beautiful and spontaneous adventures. However, I somehow manage to find time in order to take a worthwhile trip up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, even if I have to sacrifice valuable sleep. A wise and hardworking woman (my mother) once told me, "you can sleep when you're dead." Unfortunately, I now live my life by that saying. Luckily though, my mother is the one who introduced me to photography and showed me how to view the world from an alternative and beautiful perspective. Once she imbedded the foundation of photography into my mind, I instantly became addicted to the hobby. Being from Texas, I didn't necessarily have the beautiful landscape to capture because for the most part, Texas is desert, cedar trees and cactus. Don't get me wrong, Texas has it's own intimate beauty, such as the stunning Big Bend National Park. But, North Carolinas natural beauty is simply incomparable. Between the waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife, North Carolina is a photographers and adventurers paradise.  Use this guide to find the best great hikes for an after-work outing, or a great family hike for the weekend all within an hour of charming Asheville. 

Grandfather Mountain

Earlier in the spring, our baseball team finally received an off day. Therefor, a couple of friends and I decided to take an adventure up to Grandfather Mountain for the first time. During the fall, I have always teetered with taking a trip to Grandfather Mountain due to the fact that reports say how touristy this location can be. Come to find out, I have been missing out because this was easily the most beautiful mountain in North Carolina. I highly recommend going on a rainy day because the fog is absolutely gorgeous. 

Blue Ridge Parkway - Mount Mitchell 

If you're looking for the prettiest drive in the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to Mount Mitchell is THE place to go. The Parkway has alway been a favorite of mine because the road is directly through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the road there are various lookouts where you are able to park your car and take in the mountain scenery. Eventually, the road takes you up to Mount Mitchell which is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The peak of the mountain stands at 6,684 ft tall and the view is mouth-dropping. 

Dry Falls

I was fortunate enough to get a weekend off in February and the first thing I did was take a trip to Dry Falls. This is my favorite waterfall in North Carolina because of how powerful it is and that you are capable of walking under the 65 ft waterfall. Not only was the waterfall incredible, but so was the drive. Dry Falls is a perfect family friendly getaway. 

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

If you're looking for the most vibrant colors in the fall, look no further than the Smoky Mountain National Forest. The Smokies are absolutely stunning due to the incredible mountains, waterfalls, wildlife and fall colors. There is so much to do in the Smoky Mountains that a weekend would not be enough. You are capable of kayaking, backpacking, camping, and observing the teeming wildlife (including elk and bear) within these mountains. If you're looking for an awesome experience for your family, I would thoroughly recommend the Smoky Mountain National Forest. 

As you can see, North Carolina is a beautiful state. There are so many hikes and adventures I simply can not list them all. The places above are a few of the best, but you can't go wrong hiking in different locations because all of Carolina is stunning. Happy Adventuring!

Instagram: bryantjordanphoto

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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