Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC
This trail goes near some of the last virgin stands of old-growth trees on the East Coast and travels through rain forest-like terrain that’s dense with rhododendrons and rushing moss-soaked streams. After you brave the 10 slippery stream crossings without breaking an ankle (“Slickrock” isn’t just a playful nickname), the slow and relentless ascent will test your stamina and waste your lungs. The last five miles to the top of the 5,360-foot peak are strenuous but allow you to experience the idyllic Stratton Bald—the grassy, treeless sub-alpine balds are scattered throughout the peaks of the Smoky Mountains.
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