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North Carolina

Switchbacks and Summits: Hiking & Nature in North Carolina

Hike along the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail with an expert naturalist as you take in stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Rating (4)
Program No. 23435RJ
6 days
Starts at
North Carolina

Switchbacks and Summits: Hiking & Nature in North Carolina

Hike along the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail with an expert naturalist as you take in stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
6 days
Starts at
Program No. 23435 RJ
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At a Glance

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, wildflowers line rugged trails and switchbacks guide determined hikers to awe-inspiring summits to look out upon sparkling mountain lakes and green pastures. With a band of like-minded hikers & an expert naturalist, learn about wildflowers, trees, plants and rock formations. Discover the charming hidden-gem town of Highlands, and top off an incredible week of hiking with a farm-to-table feast and Appalachian music.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Journey through Nantahala National Forest along the world-famous Appalachian Trail and head out along Bartram Trail to the Scaly Mountain summit.
  • Enjoy an epic hike over four mountains — Cole Mountain, Goat Knob, Shortoff Mountain, Yellow Mountain — with 360-degree views.
  • Take a field trip to Highlands Botanical Garden to learn about native plants, wild flowers, plants of the Cherokee, mosses, liverworts and American naturalist, William Bartram.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
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.
Mountain Masters
by John Inscoe
Our Southern Highlanders
by Horace Kephart
Back of Beyond A Horace Kephart Biography
by George Ellison, Janet McCue
An icon of the Southern Appalachian region known for the seminal books Camping and Woodcraft (1906) and Our Southern Highlanders (1913), Horace Kephart was instrumental in efforts to establish the Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. But Kephart is perhaps best known for his decade-long crusade to help protect the Smokies as a national park. For Kephart, this campaign represented a personal commitment: "I owe my life to these mountains and I want them preserved so that others may profit from them," he wrote. The culmination of decades of tireless research and devoted scholarship, Back of Beyond: A Horace Kephart Biography is the compelling story of this librarian-turned-woodsman who had a far-reaching effect on wilderness literature and outdoor pursuits throughout North America.
Travels, and Other Writings
by William Bartram
Hailed as the "finest-looking, longest-lasting editions ever made" this edition of the early American naturalist's work includes his four-year-long journey through the southern colonies in the late 1700s.
The Changing Blue Ridge Mountains: Essays on Journeys Past and Present
by Brent Martin
In the eighteenth century, naturalist and artist William Bartram traveled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and spent time documenting both plant life and the customs of the Middle Town Cherokees. Since that time, men and women like Bartram have journeyed through Western North Carolina's wildest and most remote places and written about their experiences. The essays in this volume compare the present day to those historical journeys and explore the idea of wilderness and what change means for the future of the people and the species who live in the mountains. Join local writer and guide Brent Martin on a journey through this incredible landscape.
Appalachia: A History
by John Alexander Williams

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