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Blue Ridge Parkway Maintenance Trail | Milepost 420 | North Carolina

There are lots of little maintenance trails alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway that don’t show up on any trail maps or have any signs to let you know they are there. One of those is a hidden gem in the high country at milepost 420 directly across from the Black Balsam spur road. It’s great for an hour stroll to brighten you senses, or if you’re looking for a quiet and peaceful spot for lunch away from the madness of Graveyard Fields. With magnificent views of Pilot Mountain and Black Balsam and Mt. Pisgah, you will get a visual treat, but don’t forget to study the ground too. There are a number of mosses and lichens that would be more at home in Canada than the Southern Appalachians.

Walls of Jericho and South Rim Trails | Forever Wild Land Trust | Alabama

Venturing more into the central part of Tennessee to the Cumberland Plateau has been a goal of mine for some time. The name “Walls of Jericho” kept cropping up, so that clinched the destination. So what is this hike with the biblical name? The place known as the Walls of Jericho is a narrow canyon, about a half-mile long, with 200-foot-high vertical limestone bluffs on each side. Exploring the headwaters of the Paint Rock River, this demanding trek straddles the Tennessee-Alabama state line as it delves deep into the gorge. The natural amphitheater is filled from its two main waterfalls and it’s a bit difficult to meander around, so be careful.

Lost Creek Overlook and Marble Plains Trails | Tims Ford State Park | Tennessee

Located on the Tims Ford Reservoir, the 2,200-acre Tims Ford State Rustic Park sits in the shadows of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee. There are 6.5 miles of unpaved hiking trails found within the park, in addition to 22 miles of bike trails that may also be used for hiking. Two of the three hiking trails begin at the park Visitor Center, while the third wraps the shoreline near the park marina. Combining the Lost Creek and Marble Plains trails makes a nice loop along a portion of the lakeshore that is nearly three miles in length. Passing through beech and cove hardwood forest, crossing swinging bridges, and a visit to an historic 19th century church and cemetery all combine to make this a relaxing stroll during any season.