Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 45

Lover's Leap Hot Springs, North Carolina.

hiking over one of the highest,
longest mountain balds in the
region. The 6,200-foot summit is
open grassland with views to forever, and is located within Cherokee National Forest. The balds fall
away into mixed woodland and
hundreds of acres of Catawba rhododendrons that bloom in June-
like a pink cloud.
tnstateparks.com/parks/about/roanmountain
423-772-0190 (state park); 828689-8716 (U. S. Forest Service for
the balds)
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Oneida
Step right up for a big adventure. This rugged wilderness area
beckons serious whitewater enthusiasts, rock climbers, and horseback
riders who want to tough it. And
with hundreds of dramatic stone
arches sprinkled throughout the
recreation area it's also heaven for
hikers. The park maintains a roster
of authorized guides for safe expeditions. This resource area on the
Cumberland Plateau creeps into
southern Kentucky.
nps.gov/biso/index.htm
423-569-9778

RobeRt StephenS

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga
The earth holds many secrets.
One of the most astonishing is
a 145-foot waterfall located far
beneath Chattanooga's Lookout
Mountain. Long a tourist magnet,
Ruby Falls continues to delight visitors, and today the above-ground
activities have grown too. Ruby
Falls, named for a person, not a
gemstone, shows how active water
can be as it continues its hidden,
inevitable downward course.
rubyfalls.com
423-821-2544
Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, Manchester
Hundreds of years ago, before European settlement began in earnest,
native people of the Middle Woodland Period constructed an important ceremonial site on what is now
the Duck River. Mounds, stonework
and other earthworks seem to have
had ceremonial importance, perhaps in conjunction with the summer solstice. Today there remains
plenty to explore on foot.
tnstateparks.com/parks/contact/
old-stone-fort
931-723-5073
The Lost Sea Adventure,
Sweetwater
Ready to spend the night in a
cave? All it takes is a group of 12
or more bold participants-kids
are welcome-and a spirit of adventure. Groups can also book less
extreme "flashlight" tours. For everyone else a visit to the Lost Sea
Adventure means a comfortable
descent on foot some 140 feet into
the cavern, and then a quiet boat
ride on the 4-acre underground
lake.
thelostsea.com
423-337-6616
Tuckaleechee Caverns,
Townsend
Tennessee boasts more than 8,000
caves, and this one's a doozy. The
Big Room measures 400 feet long,
300 feet wide, and 150 feet from top
to bottom. And there's more: a dou-

ble waterfall in excess of 200 feet tall,
perhaps the tallest subterranean falls
known. Tucked beneath the Smoky
Mountains, these impressive caverns
represent hundreds of millions of
years of geological action.
tuckaleecheecaverns.com
865-448-2274

GEORGIA
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, Gainesville
Check ahead when visiting Brasstown Bald, for the winter weather
at Georgia's highest peak (at 4,784
feet) can change from fair to foul
in a minute, and the steep path to
the 360-degree viewing platform
may be inaccessible. Laid across
the state's northern boundary, this
swath of national forest land once
sheltered a Cherokee population beneath its thick canopy.
fs.usda.gov/conf
770-297-3000
Consolidated Dahlonega
Gold Mine & Dahlonega Gold
Museum State Historic Site,
Dahlonega
It's a fact: Gold lives alongside
quartz. The aim of the old Dahlonega gold mine was to separate the
two, doing whatever it took to bang
and blast apart those minerals from
a rich vein located 200 feet beneath
the surface. Today there's an underground gold mine tour that recounts the methods of yore. Afterwards try gold panning or visit the
state's gold museum.
consolidatedgoldmine.com
gastateparks.org/DahlonegaGoldMuseum
706-864-8473
Tallulah Falls Gorge State
Park, Tallulah Falls
Alaska? Tibet? The suspension
foot bridge across the Tallulah Falls
Gorge is a reminder that extreme
weathering can produce world-class
scenery anywhere, including north
Georgia. Visitors to this watery wonderland can walk along moderate
foot trails at the rim or apply for the
limited permits to hike to the botJanuary/February 2018 45



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