Enjoy Endless Outdoor Adventures and Breathtaking High Country Beauty

Outdoor NC has partnered with local tourism organizations across the state to help promote the protection of North Carolina’s stunning and diverse outdoor spaces by practicing the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. Here are some insider tips if you're visiting the High Country area.

Q&A host: Jonathan Hartsell
Outdoor passion: Hiking, climbing, paddling
Where in NC: All over, but particularly Mitchell County in western North Carolina

Best places in the High Country to spend outdoors?

Roan Highlands, Iron Mountain, North Toe River, ToeCane, Lost Cove, Nolichucky River.

Best season to spend in NC?

Fall – it has perfect temperatures for climbing and hiking.

What level of experience is needed for outdoor activities?

It varies. All areas have options from beginner to advanced. 

How long should you plan on visiting the High Country?

 If I lived far away, at least a couple of weeks. If within six hours, at least three to four days.

What attracted you to North Carolina or the High Country?

I grew up in North Carolina. My dad's family is from Johnson City, so I grew up visiting the mountains often. After college, I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail with my wife and afterward we decided to move to the mountains.

What is unique about the High Country?

Ecological diversity, culture, seasons, etc.

How do you plan or prepare for your outdoor activities?

Maps (Avenza and paper), talk to friends to get beta, websites. 

What piece of gear is your must-have? 

Water and sunscreen.

How do you practice the Leave No Trace principles?  

Pack out everything, bury waste a safe distance from water sources and minimize footprint. 

Best places for breakfast/lunch or dinner? 

The Tropical Grill, DT's, Las Cruces, Bonnie and Clydes.

Where do you like to go after outdoor fun? 

The river to cool off sore muscles.

Cool places to stay?

Free campsites in the national forest.

Other sites to see while in the High Country? 

Riverside Park, Grassy Creek, Little Switzerland, Bakersville, Loafers Glory.

What is your can’t-miss experience in the High Country? 

Roan Highlands and/or other parts of the Appalachian Trail. 

Insider tip! 

Go during the week.

This article was produced in partnership with Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce.

Updated September 16, 2021
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