Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 40
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.
Behind: the endless woods of Nantahala National Forest. Ahead and
far below: miles of pristine wilderness, a shimmering viewscape of
trees and sky.
Pilot Mountain State Park,
Imagine a column of rock 2,000
feet high pushing its way through
the gentle piedmont woodlands.
That's Pilot Mountain, visible from
great distances and therefore a historic landmark for navigation. Nowadays the mountain itself gets a lot
of love for its hiking trails, bridle
trails, canoeing access and familyfriendly campsites. Rock climbers
add to the allure.
Pisgah National Forest, Asheville (supervisor's office)
Preserved for generations to
come, this half-million-acre wilderness serves as a backdrop for the
geologic forces eternally at work in
the Blue Ridge. Waterfalls abound,
highlighting the active interplay
between rock and water. An array
of recreational amenities serves nature lovers of all activity levels: hiking and biking and equestrian trails,
scenic overlooks, quiet bends in the
river, plus cabins and campgrounds.
Thermal City Gold Mine,
There's gold in them thar' hills
and the folks at Thermal City Gold
Mine will help amateur miners find
it. This "recreational" mine site operates a bit over half the year, March
through October, and offers gold
panning supplies and workshops,
plus heavier dredging and other
equipment and access. There are
cabins and campsites so that serious
hobbyists can stay for a while.
Few jewels hold the allure of em-
eralds, with their cool deep-green
tones and sometimes eye-popping
size. North Carolina's gemstone reserves include rich veins of emerald,
and Hiddenite deposits have yielded
some of the largest North American
specimens. Discover the thrill of
the hunt at this year-round facility,
where fees cover sluicing, creeking
or digging. There's lapidary service
on site, and camping.
Chimney Rock State Park
& The Chimney Rock, Chimney
At Chimney Rock State Park the
geological underpinnings of the
Blue Ridge play hide and seek with
the forest. Hiking trails crisscross the
landscape and waterfalls punctuate
the heights. A separate attraction in
the midst of it all is "the rock" itself,
a gnarled spire of stone with both elevator and walking access and a huge
view from the top. Rock climbing is
permitted by prior arrangement.