This is an area that is truly off the beaten path. This area is called Sugarloaf because of the bright white sand found there. It is full of hills and some people even like to slide down the hills on a sled. It has much history due to it being a base camp for Confederate Forces during the American Civil War. A friend and I found an old bottle dating back to that period. (We later found it in a museum). Located along the Cape Fear River.
This is a tiny island at the end of US Highway 421. At low tide, you can walk on the pathway shown here to the island and explore. Be warned, however, at high tide, you will be stuck and have to wait about 11 hours to get back, so be sure you plan your trip over accordingly.
One additional note: The rocks on the path are very slick! Be sure you wear old tennis shoes and run on the oyster beds (yes, it sounds crazy, but the traction you get is well worth it)!! When you get to the end, a real treat awaits the archaeology buff: Indian Oyster Beds over 5,000 years old!!
Some of the best surfing on the East Coast is here. Like stated before, North Carolina has the mountains, foothills, and beaches, nicknaming it "Variety Vacationland." Unfortunately, due to Hurricanes and other natural disasters, the beaches constantly have to be built up. In Kure Beach, there are jettys used to help build the beach back up naturally. Carolina Beach on the other hand, uses dredging to build it's beach up. This is a picture of Carolina Beach, where I grew up.
Gem mining is the major attraction in Franklin, just south of the Smokey Mountain Park.
We went to Rose Creek Mine outside of town ( hard to find!) . They let you dig a bucket of dirt with gems out of a pile ( you are not actually IN the mine, they do the hard work for you!!) and then you get to wash it and look for gems. I found a beautiful Garnet and had it made into a ring at one of the jewelers in Franklin.
The kids had a blast, and came home with a bucket of gems.
There are plenty of great parks where one can completely forget about the urban life.. fantastic plants, circling hawks , not to mention all other little birds.. just a pity, they are so fast at running away. However, turtles are not so quick, so here a picture taken at my friends' pond at their cabin wich is somewhere one hour from Raleigh/Apex.
We went gem mining again , this time in Spruce Pine, on New Years Day. It was the only mine open. We lucked out, my son found a very nice Sapphire I am having made into a ring, I found a Emerald, and my daughter found several smaller Sapphires and a Garnet.
The owner was very nice and explained a lot of details about mining and cutting gem stones to us.
Fontana Village-On beautiful Lake Fontana adjacent to Fontana Dam-open year round-offering lodge and cabin accommodations-campground, restaurant, village grill, general store, ice cream parlor, trails for cycling, marina, swimming pool, riding stables, mini-golf course, museum, and special events for guests.
No matter the season, Historic Fontana Village is a year-round haven of nature?s splendor. The village, the largest in the Great Smoky Mountains, is The gateway to some of North Carolina?s most outstanding features.
The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, the Cherohala Skyway, whitewater rafting in Nantahala Gorge, Fontana Dam (the highest peak in eastern America) and of course the Great Smoky Mountains, the largest protected biosphere in the world!
Pictured here: An old mill located in Fontana Village, North Carolina. This area is pristine in natural beauty and filled with culture and history..a scenic drive and worth the trip*
In the greater Asheville area and throughout the mountain region, you'll find great rivers for white water rafting. The Nantahala River is one of the best. If you're interested, check out the website below.
These areas you have to be careful in...number one, lots of alligators. Number two, they are protected. Carolina Beach State Park, where this was taken, has hiking trails that go through these marshlands, so they are more easily accessable.
By far, some of the most beautiful state parks in the country. One of the things I absolutely love about North Carolina State Parks is the fact that they are FREE!! YES! Some states require you to pay a fee to even enter the park; usually anywhere from $3 to $7 or more just to enter the park!
Even though it's free to enter the park, you still have to pay for camping or boat launching, which are inexpensive (Around $5 US for boat launching; $15-$20 US for camping).
Located approximately 4 miles from NC-214 is Lake Waccamaw State Park. Although Lake Waccamaw itself may not have much to offer, this state park is a must see. Number one, it's free to enter. Secondly, it's free to swim. Third, you can ride bikes down the off-road paths and wooden walkways. Fourth, there are a few campsites around for those of you who are like me and love camping. Finally, the scenery is beautiful, and you just might catch a glimpse of an alligator or two swimming in a nearby bog.
To get here, follow US-74/76 West from Wilmington for about one hour. Take the exit off of US-74/76 to NC-214 East. Follow NC-214 East approximately 6-7 miles to Jefferson Road, take a left. Then follow until you reach Bella Coola road. Follow for approximately 3-4 miles. The park will be on your left.
Mingo Falls is a beautiful place , and is not on the "usual" tourist's place to visit. It is located about 10 miles north of Cherokee. A "must see" for lovers of scenic beauty. Be prepared to walk up 163 stairs to get to the falls, and, of course, 163 down.
This park is not so well known, but the 300 foot chimney and Hickory Nut Falls are fairly recognized sights. The privately run park is about a half hour south of Asheville and there's a steep entrance fee to get in. But its a fun place to hike and see some of great scenery, including Lake Lure which is nearby. For more information, feel free to visit my Chimney Rock Park page.
If you travel through the mountains on a hot summer's day, you can go to this natural waterslide to cool off! It's called Sliding Rock, and it's very slippery and fun. There is a 7 foot pool below the rock. Located on U.S. 276 in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard.
there aren't alot of hotels on this barrier island and you can get away from it all and just relax. Also there are about 4 great lighthouses here if you like old historic lighthouses then this is the best place to be.
Now finally the best part if you have a 4x4 then the best part is the northern part of the island is completely undeveloped and the beaches are access by 4 wheel drive only but it gets better than that and if you want to see some wild horses they have them there which they have been on the island for a couple hundred years or so from a shipwreck...well worth a visit.
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