If your hiking boots and walking stick are itching for a good day hike, our region is chock full of great hiking destinations. In fact, you’ll find some beautiful wooded trails right here in Cherokee County – and one in the Murphy, NC town limits. In fact, let’s start there – after fortifying yourself with an incredible cup of liquid energy, otherwise known as coffee, and pastries at The Daily Grind.
Next, stroll over to the Murphy River Walk, with a trailhead right behind the historic L&N Depot. While you trek along two miles of shaded walking trails, enjoy the marshy wetlands, hardwood forests, and meadows. You’ll see plenty of native plants, and you might encounter some birds and small mammals. You’ll also get up-close-and-personal with the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers, which just so happen to converge right in front of you on the trail. This walk is especially refreshing on a hot summer day.
Maybe you’re up for a more adventurous hike, with lots of elevation changes and a surprise around every bend. Check out the Nantahala National Forest, criss-crossed with so many trails we’ve lost count. In fact, this forest is so large that it’s divided into three regions: the Cheoah, Nantahala, and Tusquitee Ranger Districts. Regardless of your destination, you’ll see tons of native plants, some unique to this part of the world. You might even encounter some roaring waterfalls, especially if we’ve had a few rounds of rain.
If the legendary Appalachian Trail is on your bucket list, the Nantahala National Forest contains a great AT day-hike destination: Wayah Bald near Franklin, North Carolina. If you’d prefer the easy route, enjoy a pleasant one-mile round trip from Forest Service Road 69. For a more energetic hike to Wayah Bald, take the Winding Stair Gap route, with lots of high-elevation climbing along well-graded trails. You’ll also pass several springs and campsites. Either way, you’ll end up at the historic stone fire tower, built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. On a clear day, you might see North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee – all at once. Bring the camera!
Or, maybe you’d like to take a moderate-to-difficult day hike along the beautiful Fires Creek Rim Trail, which rings the Fires Creek Wildlife Management Area. Starting near Hayesville, North Carolina, the entire Rim Trail encompasses 25 miles, but you can choose a manageable chunk that provides some spectacular ridge-top views. Fires Creek has several trails to choose from, the Rim Trail just happens to be a favorite. Besides viewing lots of native plants and birds, you could encounter deer, Russian boars, or bears – so be on your best behavior.
Of course, this snapshot barely scratches the surface of day-hike possibilities. For more detailed information, contact the United States Forest Service Station in Murphy, NC at 828-837-5152. For maps and hiking gear, visit the outdoors-savvy staff at Appalachian Outfitters on Tennessee Street in downtown Murphy. And who knows – we might see you on the trail!
The Poltrock Team – REMAX Mountain Properties – Murphy NC – www.MyMurphy.com – Call us Toll Free at 1-866-Murphy-NC or 1-866-687-7496 – Murphy’s #1 Real Estate Team