North Carolina is a state filled with natural beauty and stunning landscapes, providing a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. However, some parts of North Carolina are not as safe for travelers. It is important to be aware of the most dangerous cities in NC before planning your next vacation.
But despite the risks, North Carolina has much to offer. Visitors from different parts of the world come to North Carolina to enjoy its hidden gems and take in the breathtaking views. In this blog post, we will take you on a tour of some of the most beautiful national parks and forests in North Carolina.
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Outer Banks National Seashore
Outer Banks National Seashore is located on the eastern coast of North Carolina, and it is one of the most popular national parks in the state. Known for its natural beauty, the park offers visitors numerous activities such as fishing, swimming, and birdwatching. The seashore stretches for over 70 miles, and it is accessible by car, making it a perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the western side of North Carolina, and it is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. This park is home to numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks, providing visitors with enough activities to last for days. The park is also accessible by car, and it has a variety of amenities such as campsites, picnic areas, and visitor centers.
Croatan National Forest
Located in the coastal region of North Carolina, Croatan National Forest spans over 160,000 acres and is home to diverse wildlife and plant species. The forest offers visitors a chance to indulge in outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, and it has numerous trails that lead to beaches, swamps, and ponds. Croatan National Forest is accessible by car, and it has several campgrounds and picnic areas available for visitors to use.
Uwharrie National Forest
Located in the central region of North Carolina, Uwharrie National Forest is a hidden gem that offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of the state’s rolling hills and hardwood forests. The forest is home to numerous hiking trails, including the Uwharrie Trail, which stretches for more than 20 miles. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as fishing and camping, and the park is accessible by car.
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most famous hiking trails in America, and it stretches from Maine to Georgia. It crosses through North Carolina, and it’s particularly scenic in this area. To get to the trail, you can take the Blue Ridge Parkway to the trailhead, which is just a short drive from Asheville. The Appalachian Trail offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. For hikers, there are plenty of camping opportunities, and the trail offers a range of difficulty levels. From short hikes to multi-day treks, there’s something for everyone. Additionally, if you love fishing, head to the park’s streams and lakes.
Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park is located in the village of Chimney Rock on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can drive to the park from Asheville. The park’s centerpiece is Chimney Rock, a natural rock formation that towers over the park. You can take an elevator to the top, where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and the gorge below. There are also several hiking trails throughout the park, including the relatively easy Hickory Nut Falls Trail. Be sure to check out the park’s rock formations, which are a major attraction.
Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock State Park is located in the north-central area of North Carolina and is accessible by car from Greensboro and Winston-Salem. This park is a great place for a weekend getaway, with plenty of hiking trails that take you through lush forests and along the park’s streams. One of the park’s highlights is Hanging Rock, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, check out Moore’s Wall Loop Trail, which is considered one of the most strenuous hikes in North Carolina.
Gorges State Park
Gorges State Park is located in the southwestern region of North Carolina, and it’s a bit off the beaten path. It’s accessible by car, but the drive is worth it. The park is home to several waterfalls and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing. Check out Rainbow Falls, which is a 150-foot waterfall, and Turtleback Falls, which features a natural waterslide. The park also has several creeks and streams that offer great fishing opportunities.
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park is situated in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and is accessible through the Blue Ridge Parkway or a scenic drive along US 221. The park is nestled amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a plethora of activities for adventure enthusiasts. At an elevation of over 5000 feet, Grandfather Mountain offers majestic views of the surrounding landscapes. The park boasts hiking trails that lead to scenic vistas like the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which spans across a chasm at 5,280 feet above sea level. Additionally, visitors can try their hands at wildlife spotting, fishing, and camping.
Fort Macon State Park
Located on the central coast of North Carolina, Fort Macon State Park is accessible through a drive along US 70 or US 58. The park offers a blend of natural beauty and historical significance. This State Park preserves Fort Macon and the adjacent shoreline. Visitors can take a tour of the fort and get a glimpse into North Carolina’s military history. Apart from the fort, visitors can enjoy several water activities like swimming, surf fishing, boating, and kayaking. The park also has several hiking trails to explore the beautiful landscapes of North Carolina.
Pilot Mountain State Park
Pilot Mountain State Park is nestled in the beautiful valleys of north-central North Carolina and is accessible through a scenic drive along US 52. Pilot Mountain is an iconic natural landmark of North Carolina and offers a host of activities for visitors. The main attraction of the park is the massive 1200 feet monadnock rising over the surrounding landscape. The park offers several hiking trails that offer scenic views of the Sauratown Mountains and the Yadkin River valley. Visitors can also indulge in wildlife spotting, rock climbing, camping, and picnicking.
North Carolina’s hidden gems offer visitors a chance to experience the state’s natural beauty and explore its diverse landscapes. Whether you want to go hiking, camping, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty, there is something for everyone in North Carolina’s national parks and forests. So, if you are planning a vacation or a weekend getaway, make sure to include these hidden gems in your itinerary and experience the beauty of North Carolina.
Happy Exploring! 🙂