6 Best Hiking Destinations In The Southeast

6 Best Hiking Destinations In The Southeast

Looking for new places to go hiking? Look no further.

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Is the monotony of school or work getting you down? Looking for a way to de-stress? Perhaps you just want to experience something new? If you have functioning legs and any sort of appreciation for the outdoors, these six beautiful hiking destinations scattered across North Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee should be on your to-do list.

1. Long Creek Falls- Ellijay, GA

Eric Champlin

I will say, I'm biased towards Long Creek Falls and the surrounding area-- I grew up camping at "3 Forks", a campsite a mile south of the falls on the Appalachian Trail, so a handful of my most fond childhood memories were made here. With that being said, it's a beautiful area regardless of the sentimental value it holds, and epitomizes everything that's awesome about the North Georgia mountains.

Like most other places on this list, I added it not only for the waterfall itself, but because of everything that surrounds it as well. Being just over 5 miles from Springer Mountain, the starting point for the Appalachian Trail which extends all the way to Maine, it is an excellent place to day hike for those interested in getting their feet wet on the AT. For those looking for a shorter, easier trek, there is a trailhead at 3 Forks which puts you only a mile away. This option makes for a relaxing two mile out and back hike during which you'll not only see Long Creek Falls, but another unnamed waterfall before you get there--you get a lot of bang for your buck. Bring an eno and kick back as you enjoy the beautiful North Georgia scenery.

2. Panther Creek Falls- Clarkesville, GA

Larry Meisner

This one is a North Georgia classic, and a favorite among UGA students. Being just an hour and fifteen minutes up the highway from Athens, it's an awesome day trip for Dawgs looking to get their outdoor fix. It's a three and a half mile hike from the trailhead to the falls, and an easy three and a half miles at that. There is very little elevation gain, and most of the hike is so beautiful that you're more concerned with the beauty of your surroundings than how your legs feel. If you go during the warm months, wear a swim suit, because the pool below the falls is perfect for a refreshing dip after the hike.

If you're looking for an overnight experience, bring a backpack and some camping supplies, for there are a number of really cool backcountry sites along the way. The two times I've been, my friends and I have opted to camp out on the small beach area below the falls-- nothing beats falling asleep to the sound of the waterfall, and it makes for quite the photo op, too.

It doesn't hurt that Tallulah Gorge, one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi, is just twenty minutes up the road. If you get an early start, it would be totally doable to hike to Panther Creek Falls and down into Tallulah Gorge in the same day. If that's your plan, though, you better be ready to feel the burn by the time its all said and done!

3. Max Patch- Spring Creek, NC (on TN border)

Larry Meisner

Though it isn't much of a hike, it still holds a special place in my heart, as well as many southeast outdoors enthusiasts. Max Patch is one of the busiest, most talked about and photographed places not only in the Southeast, but on the entire Appalachian Trail. It is a massive bald (a mountaintop with no trees) spanning the length of five or six football fields, allowing for incredible views in all directions. The hike up is steep, but short-- only about a quarter of a mile. While many tourists park and hike the quarter of a mile to the top, it is often a destination for beginning or ending AT section hikes. For example, two years ago a couple friends and I began a hike at Max Patch, then went on to Hot Springs, NC, which amounted to a 24 mile hike we completed over the course of three days. However you choose to access Max Patch, it is certain to take your breath away.

One piece of advice: If you go in the winter, bring gloves! The lack of tree coverage means you're exposed to brutal winds, and in colder weather it can be miserable. The one time I've been atop Max Patch, it was 15 degrees and the wind was howling--I couldn't feel my hands within five minutes of reaching the top. Learn from my mistakes.

4. Wesser Bald Fire tower- Andrews, NC

Larry Meisner

Ever since the first time I hiked the mile and a half from Tellico Gap to the fire tower atop Wesser Bald some eight years ago, it's held its ground as the most beautiful view I've ever witnessed. Wesser Bald is already one of the highest mountains in the surrounding area, but there's a tower situated atop the mountain from which forest service rangers used to keep a watchful eye out for forest fires, though now it serves primarily as a tourist attraction. The tower rises up and over the surrounding canopy, offering absolutely awe-inspiring 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. You can see a number of interesting landmarks from here, including Clingman's Dome, which is the tallest peak on the entire Appalachian Trail as well as the third tallest mountain east of the Mississippi.

Wesser Bald's proximity to the Nantahala River certainly doesn't hurt it's case. The Nantahala Cascades are an absolutely stunning section of river featuring a host of waterfalls and rapids which you just so happen to drive right alongside on your way to the trailhead. The lower section of the river is beautiful too, not to mention it is home to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, a hub for southeastern outdoorsmen. Situated at the end of the river, a short and sweet twenty minute drive from the trailhead, the NOC offers whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and a number of other activities any outdoor enthusiast is sure to love, in addition to two delicious restaurants for satisfying that post-adventure hunger. For the most adventurous spirits out there, it should be noted that you can hike from the fire tower down to the Outdoor Center-- it's about seven and a half miles along the Appalachian Trail. If you choose to do so, prepare for your knees to take a beating, for it is steep! With that being said, the views make it well worth it.

5. Mt. LeConte- Gatlinburg, TN

Nicholas Walsh

Mount LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for good reason. Though it's a steep 5 mile hike, it offers some of the best views in the smokies. It starts off along Alum Cave Creek, climbing slowly until it departs from the creek and begins the steeper ascent to Alum Cave, one of the most interesting geological formations in the southern Appalachian mountains. When you hit this massive overhanging wall of rock, you know you're about halfway to the top. Once you finally reach the top of the ridge and flatten out, just before you reach the backcountry shelter, you'll walk through a "hallway" of Christmas trees, which caught me off guard my first time up LeConte. Flora like this is one of the things that make the Smokies stand out when compared to surrounding mountains.

Looking to make the most of your hike up Mt. LeConte? The top of the mountain is home to the famous LeConte Lodge, a collection of furnished wooden cabins that hikers can reserve for overnight stays. It is the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States, and serves as a rewarding, cozy mountain getaway following a butt-kicker of a hike. In addition, it would allow you to take full advantage of the two viewpoints LeConte has to offer-- Cliff Top and Myrtle Point. Situated less than a quarter mile from the lodge, Cliff Top is a massive rock outcropping, perfectly located for watching the sunset. Just a half mile hike from the lodge in the other direction will take you to Myrtle Point, from one side of which you get an incredible view of the smokies, and the the other you get to watch the sun come up over Gatlinburg in the morning... that is, if you're willing to get out of bed to do so.

6. Linville Gorge Wilderness- Marion, NC

Larry Meisner

The Linville Gorge is a special, special place. There are numerous options for day hikes, some of which take you down to the roaring Linville River, others which take you to some incredible geological formations, and some that hike you right up the side of massive mountains, allowing you to see for miles upon miles. Linville Falls seems to be the most popular tourist destination in the Gorge, but there are endless opportunities for adventure outside of just the most popular spots. Some of my favorite sections of trail within the gorge are the Chimneys, which is this half mile long portion of the Mountains to Sea trail which literally cuts right through some of the wildest rock formations I've ever seen. Another really interesting trail which contrasts the higher elevation environment of the chimneys is the Linville Gorge Trail, which follows the river on the western side of the gorge, opposite the Chimneys, Shortoff Mountain, and Tablerock Mountain, a few of the wilderness' most noteworthy landmarks. Despite being a relatively rough trail (carrying a GPS and/or compass and map is advised), it offers some of the humbling views in the eastern US. Looking up at the massive cliffs lining the opposite side of the gorge sure does make you feel small.

One day in the Linville Gorge not enough for you? There is a 23 mile loop which connects a number of trails to provide an all-encompassing experience for the gorge-goer who needs more than a day hike-- it's usually done in three. The loop takes you across the eastern ridge, down into the heart of the gorge, across the river, alongside the river, back across, and finally up and out of the gorge to where the journey began. Whoever is brave enough to take on the challenging hike (it is said that one mile in the Linville Gorge equates in difficulty to two miles on the Appalachian Trail) will be rewarded with stunning ridge views, peaceful backcountry camping, refreshing dips in the river, and more. The only problem is the first river crossing is in the middle of two class 5 rapids, so you must catch it when the river is low in order to cross safely, being that the bridge was wiped out by a flood several years ago. While this may be inconvenient sometimes, it epitomizes what this incredible, unforgiving wilderness is all about.

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20 Of The Coolest Animal Species In The World

Animals that almost seem imaginary.
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The world is full of amazing animals. So amazing, that narrowing them down to 20 felt nearly impossible. To determine who made the cut for this list, I used very important factors such as, cuteness and how much some of them looked like Pokémon . I know, very official. So here are some of the coolest animals in the world.

1. Pink Fairy Armadillo

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest and cutest species of armadillo. It is on the list of threatened species and is found in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of Argentina. The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature that survives mostly on insects and plants.


2. Okapi

The okapi is an animal native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Although the stripes make many people believe okapi are related to zebra, they are actually closer to giraffe. Okapi are solitary creatures and come together to breed. They are herbivores, mostly eating leaves, grass, and other plants.


3. Glaucus Atlanticus or "the Blue Dragon"

These little dragon-like creatures are often only about a few inches long and can be found in the Indian Pacific Oceans. The blue dragon floats upside down in order to blend the blue side of them with the water, and the silver side with the surface of the ocean. This tiny dragon feeds on creatures like the man o' war and can even deliver a sting similar to it.


4. The Maned Wolf

The maned wolf is often found in the grasslands of south, central-west, and southeastern parts of Brazil. It is neither related to wolves nor foxes despite its appearance and name, but is actually closer to dogs. The maned wolf hunts alone and primarily eats both meat and plants (about 50% of its diet).


5. Fossa

The fossa is a carnivorous animal located in Madagascar. Despite having many traits similar to cats, it is more closely related to the Mongoose. The fossa is only found in forest habitats and can hunt in either daytime or night. Over 50 percent of its diet happens to be lemurs.


6. Japanese Spider Crab

As the name suggestions, the Japanese spider crab inhabits the waters surrounding Japan. In many parts of Japan, this crab can be considered a delicacy but can be considerably difficult to catch. The Japanese spider crab can grow to 12 feet long from claw to claw. There is only one sea creature-- amongst similar species (aka crustaceans)-- that beats the weight of a Japanese spider crab: the American Lobster.


7. Pacu Fish

Look closely at the teeth, do they look familiar? This fish is found in the waters of South America. This fish, while related to the piranha, can actually grow much larger. They can also be found in rivers like the Amazon and is an aid to the fishing industry. Unlike the piranha, pacu mostly only eat seeds and nuts, though can still create nasty injuries to other animals if need be.


8. Slow Loris

The slow loris is a nocturnal creature found in Southeast Asia. While very adorable, the loris's teeth are actually quite venomous. The toxin on their teeth can also be applied to fur through grooming to protect its babies from predators. Often times these creatures forage and spend time alone, although can on occasion be seen with other slow lorises. Apart from their toxic teeth, the slow lorises have another defense mechanism, in which they move nearly completely silently in order to prevent discovery.


9. Angora Rabbit

These cute, fluffy rabbits are among the hairiest breeds of rabbit of both wild and domestic types. These rabbits originated in Turkey although managed to spread throughout Europe and was even brought to the United States in the 20th century. These rabbits are often bred for their soft wool which can be made into clothing, and often get rid of their own coats every 3-4 months.


10. Axolotl

The axolotl or "Mexican salamander" (who looks like a Pokémon , if you ask me) is often spotted in lakes in various places around Mexico. These little salamanders are amphibious although often spend their adult lives strictly in the water. However, the population of these cute creatures is dwindling due to non-native predators and the continued urbanization of Mexico. The axolotl eats small worms, insects, and fish in order to survive.


11. Liger

The liger, however made up it sounds, is a real (and cute) animal created by a lion and a tiger mating. Ligers only seem to exist in captivity or zoos because the lion and tiger don't share the same habitat in the wild. Unfortunately, these animals don't live very long or are sterile despite being bigger than both the lion and the tiger. While these animals are cool and unique, they are not strictly natural or sustainable.


12. Bearded Vulture

I don't know about you all, but this vulture reminds me of a phoenix which was initially why I looked into the creature. These vultures inhabit a range of places from southern Europe to the Indian subcontinent, to Tibet. This vulture, like other vultures, typically eats dead animals, although it has been documented that the bearded vulture will attack live prey more often than other vultures.


13. Goblin Shark


This unusual shark is also known as a "living fossil" because they are the last representative of sharks that lived about 125 million years ago. It is a deep sea shark that can grow between 10-13 feet if not longer. The goblin shark has been caught accidentally in every major ocean. The goblin shark is not a fast swimmer and relies on ambushing its prey.


14. Red Panda

This cute, small panda lives in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda is rather small, only about the same size as most domestic cats. Its eating habits range from bamboo, to eggs, to insects, and several other small mammals. The red panda is primarily sedentary during the day and at night or in the morning does whatever hunting it needs to do.


15. Blobfish

This blobfish is, in a way, so ugly that it is cute (although reminds me of a certain Pokémon ) This fish lives in the deep waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The blobfish has a density only sightly above that of water. The fish primarily hunts by just floating along and letting creatures wander into its mouth, rather than expending any energy.


16. Leaf Deer

The leaf deer is usually found in dense forests in the northwest region of Putao. The adult leaf deer only stands at about 20 inches high and the males and females are nearly identical except for an inch long horn on the males. It is called a leaf deer because hunters could wrap the deer in a single large leaf.


17. Tiger

While tigers are a more common animal than many others on this list, it is still one of the coolest animals in the world. Tigers are the largest of all cats and once ranged from Russia, to Turkey, to parts of Asia — almost all over the world. These animals are fierce, powerful creatures, although they are on the endangered species list.


18. Narwhals

Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. The narwhal's diet changes depending on the time of year: in the spring the narwhal will eat cod, while in the winter the narwhal will eat flatfish. Narwhals can live up to 50 years and most frequently die of suffocation from being trapped under the ice.


19. Cheetah

Cheetahs, while more commonly heard of then some of the other animals on this list, are still incredibly cool. They often inhabit many parts of Africa and Iran. These amazing cats can reach up to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and use their tails to make quick and sudden turns. These amazing cats also have semi-retractable claws which helps with speed. The cheetah, however, doesn't have much besides speed to defend itself.


And finally....


20. Superb Bird of Paradise

This GIF demonstrates the mating dance used by male superb birds of paradise. Typically females reject about 20 mates before selecting one they want to mate with. They are often found in New Guinea although it is unsure just how many of these birds there are. As far as scientists know, the population has remained stable.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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I Will Always Call Myself A Dreamer

The new thing you should practice: reading the vibrations that surround you.

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In "The Science That Will Change Your Future", Dr. Bruce Lipton talks about how everything in life communicates through vibrations. We can simplify everything, even to the atomic level, to good and bad vibes. Before you snort at the person who says you're giving off bad vibes, maybe consider this first. Dr. Lipton talks about how the gazelle doesn't go up to the lion and asks, "Are you my friend?", instead the gazelle can feel its bad vibes. How can the gazelle do this?

Vibrations do one of two things when they interfere with each other: mesh or clash. Good vibes are vibrations that mesh together. Bad vibes are vibrations that clash. The gazelle can sense its energy clashing with the energy of the lion (he terms this as destructive interference).

Dr. Lipton talks about how we are trained to not sense these vibrations. We see animals do it! Some people will tell you that cats just don't like them, for whatever reason. I have had many friends who said that if their dog didn't like you, then you probably aren't a good person.

Animals base everything off of their intuition to these vibrations; it is their key to survival. Everyone knows that dogs and cats can't see color. But have you ever really watched your pet? How their eyes dart around the room, or they growl at nothing? They are seeing things we aren't able to see. They are sensing vibrations in the room that we are not capable to sense.

What does any of this have to do with classifying yourself as a dreamer?

Those who are classified as dreamers are mainly those who pursue careers dealing with their artistic abilities. Having artistic abilities means you are more in-tune with not only your emotions but the emotions in the space around you. You are more perceptive of others and your surroundings. Thus, you are more in-tune with the vibrations that your art comes from. Your brain makes a neural connection between an emotion (a vibration), and what you produce (your art).

If you are a dreamer, you are unrealistic. You are perceived as driftwood; floating on idealism. If you are stiff and follow a designated path, you are practical and considered a "realist."

But who is more real? The one who ignores the vibrations in their environment; the businessman guiding the Caterpillars? Or the dreamer, who not only recognizes the vibes, but is able to portray them in a way that others can not only comprehend, but feel in their own ways?

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