Eric Crews is a Boone local who spends most of his free time exploring the beautiful forests of the High Country—documenting the area’s endless climbing, mountain biking, paddling, and hiking for his public television show High Country Adventures. This month’s Outside Insider lists his favorite play spots.
Calloway Peak on Grandfather Mountain. Often shrouded in fog, the view through spruce and fir trees provides hikers with a truly memorable summit that makes the long, steep hike up the Profile Trail well worth it.
BEST HIKING TRAIL
Daniel Boone Scout Trail to Cragway Trail. The long climb up the Boone Scout Trail is worth every bit of energy once the views of Medicine Valley from the multiple rocky escarpments come into view.
BEST BACKCOUNTRY CAMPING SPOT
Hi-Balsam Shelter at Grandfather Mountain. Tucked away beneath the magnificent quartzite cliffs of Calloway Peak, the Hi-Balsam Shelter provides the perfect “Room with a View” for the adventurous backpacker. First constructed during World War II by Clyde Smith, the shelter is one of the oldest remaining structures on Grandfather Mountain. The shelter is ideally situated for a weekend of exploring Grandfather’s rugged terrain.
BEST POST-TRAIL HANGOUT IN TOWN
The Boone Saloon offers a diverse menu that hits the spot after a long day exploring the High Country. Wash it down with a cold one and stick around for live music.
BEST MOUNTAIN BIKING TRAIL
Yancey Ridge Trail. For advanced riders, there is no trail more technical than Yancey Ridge. It utilizes a steep initial climb to gain sufficient elevation to provide for a rip-roaring rollercoaster ride along a forested ridge for over 12 miles. Crossing through blended forests comprised of oaks, maples, pines, and hemlocks, the trail takes a direct path through the heart of Pisgah.
BEST CYCLING ROAD RIDE
Blue Ridge Parkway/221 Loop. Long climbs and fast descents mixed in with an overwhelming number of beautiful vistas make the 221/Parkway Loop one of the most popular rides in the area.
BEST CLIMBING SPOT
Shiprock. Beautiful views, solid stone, and exciting rock climbing make Shiprock the go-to crag for traditional rock climbers in the High Country. The 200-foot tall gray-white crag catches good sun and makes for perfect conditions on chilly days.
BEST SKI RUN
Boulderdash at Sugar Mountain offers one of the longest and consistently steep runs in the area. Dodge the rocks or air off the top, but look out for those ice patches that make North Carolina skiing so challenging.