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North Carolina

Nature Hiking in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Program No. 17288RJ
Hike the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains with a local expert and learn about the region’s abundant wildflowers, natural history and distinctly Appalachian folklore.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 21 - Apr 26, 2024
Starting at
1,299
May 5 - May 10, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Aug 11 - Aug 16, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Oct 6 - Oct 11, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Oct 13 - Oct 18, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Oct 20 - Oct 25, 2024
Starting at
1,349
Apr 13 - Apr 18, 2025
Starting at
1,399
May 4 - May 9, 2025
Starting at
1,449
Aug 10 - Aug 15, 2025
Starting at
1,449
Sep 7 - Sep 12, 2025
Starting at
1,449
Oct 5 - Oct 10, 2025
Starting at
1,449
Oct 12 - Oct 17, 2025
Starting at
1,449
Oct 19 - Oct 24, 2025
Starting at
1,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 21 - Apr 26, 2024
Starting at
1,439
May 5 - May 10, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Aug 11 - Aug 16, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Sep 8 - Sep 13, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Oct 6 - Oct 11, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Oct 13 - Oct 18, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Oct 20 - Oct 25, 2024
Starting at
1,489
Apr 13 - Apr 18, 2025
Starting at
1,539
Filling Fast!
May 4 - May 9, 2025
Starting at
1,589
Aug 10 - Aug 15, 2025
Starting at
1,589
Filling Fast!
Sep 7 - Sep 12, 2025
Starting at
1,589
Oct 5 - Oct 10, 2025
Starting at
1,589
Oct 12 - Oct 17, 2025
Starting at
1,589
Oct 19 - Oct 24, 2025
Starting at
1,589

At a Glance

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the scenic trails and natural wonders of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains in a small group with a hiking naturalist who reveals the wonders of wildflowers and mountain life. Walk along the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail, through the Nantahala National Forest and spend your evenings immersed in tales of Appalachian folklore and natural history.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking 4-8 miles per day on varied terrain. The trails can be steep at times and consist of rocks and roots. Elevations up to 5,500 feet. There may be frequent stops to explore the flora and fauna of the Southern Appalachians.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Hike to spots above 5,000 feet like Standing Indian Mountain and take advantage of exquisite views.
  • Walk on sections of the famous Appalachian Trail, including the Rock Gap to Glassmine Gap portion, Winding Stair Gap and Siler Bald.
  • On sections of the "Chunky Gal" Trail study the natural history of the area with a local trail and nature expert.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for light exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, evening entertainment on at least one night and a value-priced single room. This program is coordinated by the Hinton Rural Life Center and operates under special use permit on the Nantahala National Forest on a nondiscriminatory basis. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Elizabeth Domingue
Elizabeth (Liz) Domingue is a professional naturalist, educator, nature photographer, and guide with extensive experience hiking, backpacking, photographing, and studying the natural world. Her interest in and study of natural history has been her lifelong pursuit and passion. As the originator and operator of Just Get Outdoors, she leads interpretive hikes, photography workshops, and Naturalist Adventure Tours regionally and throughout the US. In all of her programs, Liz encourages awareness, understanding, enjoyment, and stewardship of our natural world.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Bev and Rod Richardson
Bev and Rod Richardson View biography
Bev and Rod have been visiting the Western NC mountains for over three decades. They travel regularly to see their children and extended family, and enjoy hosting friends and family at home in Florida. Bev is a retired PCUSA minister and serves as parish associate at First Presbyterian New Smyrna Beach; she has been a volunteer police chaplain for over 15 years. Rod is an elder and deacon in the PCUSA church and is retired from Northrup Grumman as a financial planner.
Profile Image of Elizabeth Domingue
Elizabeth Domingue View biography
Elizabeth (Liz) Domingue is a professional naturalist, educator, nature photographer, and guide with extensive experience hiking, backpacking, photographing, and studying the natural world. Her interest in and study of natural history has been her lifelong pursuit and passion. As the originator and operator of Just Get Outdoors, she leads interpretive hikes, photography workshops, and Naturalist Adventure Tours regionally and throughout the US. In all of her programs, Liz encourages awareness, understanding, enjoyment, and stewardship of our natural world.
Profile Image of Bruce Thomason
Bruce Thomason View biography
Bruce Thomason was thrust into the natural world and hiking at an early age by conservation-minded parents. He served as a counselor in Asheville High School’s mountaineering summer camp, teaching technical climbing, rappelling, river rafting, caving, and backpacking. Bruce was a leader in the Boy Scouts of America and has sectioned-hiked many parts of the Appalachian Trail and other Western NC traces and tracks over the past 40 years. He has a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering and was CTO of a technology firm.
Profile Image of Kris Medic
Kris Medic View biography
Kris Medic is an author and board-certified Master Arborist. She grew up in Pennsylvania, and in high school did wilderness search and rescue in the mountains with the Civil Air Patrol. As a horticulturist with BS and MS degrees, she curated the wildflower, holly, rhododendron, and azalea collections at Georgia’s Callaway Gardens, led whitewater canoe trips on the Flint River, hikes and workshops, and bird counts. Kris has been a wilderness first aid instructor, Sierra Club hike leader, and president of the Indiana Arborist Association.
Profile Image of Linda Flynn
Linda Flynn View biography
Linda Flynn retired in Asheville, North Carolina, after 25 years as a designer and 25 years as a therapist. Her current passion is walking international “caminos” — with more than 1,200 miles in the last eight years — and hiking in Western North Carolina. She does so love our own rhododendron and laurel, and appreciates finding wildflowers and secret gardens. Linda is also fond of rocks, mosses, ferns, and waterfalls.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
by Ben Montgomery
Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.” Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, she was the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. At age seventy-one, she hiked the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity, and appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. The public attention she brought to the trail was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.
Appalachian Trail Trees & Wildflowers
by Waterford Press Inc.
Handy for a pocket or backpack, this durable, fold-out reference features flora and fauna that travelers will likely encounter on the Appalachian Trail.
Cold Mountain
by Charles Frazier
Set in North Carolina, this is the best-selling novel of a wounded Confederate soldier who abandons the front line and journeys home to his prewar sweetheart. In spare, eloquent prose, Frazier describes the strong bond between a man and the land.
Our Southern Highlanders
by Horace Kephart
A classic book of history and folklore of the mountaineers of the southern Appalachians. Kephart is considered the premier folklorist and historian of the area. First published in the 1910s.
A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bryson
The entertaining account of Bryson's hike up the Appalachian trail, combining biting satire with a certain warmth. A fond memoir and a very entertaining read.
This is Where We Live, Short Stories by 25 Contemporary North Carolina Writers
by Michael McFee
A collection of short stories from the last 15 years. Includes pieces by Philip Gerard, Heather Ross Miller and June Spence.
Newcomb's Wildflower Guide
by Lawrence Newcomb
A classic identification guide, which uses a simple dichotomous key for identification. With 1,075 mostly black-and-white drawings, it covers the Northeast and Great Lakes region, south to Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and most of Tennessee.
Great Smoky Mountains Wildlife
by James Kavanagh
A folding wildlife guide designed for quick reference in the field. With full-color images and text, it features more than 140 creatures often seen in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Saints At The River
by Ron Rash
Few are better at writing Southern life than Ron Rash. In his second novel, a 12-year-old girl drowns in the Tamassee River. As her hometown is thrown into the national spotlight, the girl's parents demand that her body be recovered. Environmentalists are convinced the operation would cause permanent damage to the river. Winner of the Weatherford Award for Best Novel.





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