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Top 17 hidden gems to visit in North Carolina

1.            The Linville Gorge Wilderness, located in the Pisgah National Forest, is a remote and rugged area that offers some of the most challenging hiking and backpacking trails in the state. Visitors can test their endurance on the trails and enjoy fishing in the Linville River and its tributaries, which are home to native trout.

2.            Grandfather Mountain, an iconic peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is known for its stunning vistas and outdoor activities. Adventurers can trek on the numerous trails that crisscross the mountain, including the demanding Grandfather Trail that leads to the summit. The mountain also features a nature preserve, a wildlife habitat, and a mile-high swinging bridge that offers breathtaking views.

3.            Chimney Rock State Park boasts the 315-foot tall monolith known as Chimney Rock, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park also features several hiking trails, a nature center, and a waterfall.

4.            The New River, one of the oldest and most biologically diverse rivers in North America, flows through the New River State Park. Here visitors can experience the pristine waters by fishing for smallmouth bass and trout, canoeing, kayaking, or tubing. The park also has several hiking trails and a campground.

5.            Hanging Rock State Park is renowned for its namesake rock formation, which provides sweeping vistas of the surrounding Dan River Basin. The park also boasts several other rock formations, waterfalls, and hiking trails of varying levels of difficulty. It is a favorite among campers and rock climbers.

6.            Crowders Mountain State Park, located in the Piedmont region, is home to two striking peaks – Crowders Mountain and The Pinnacle. Visitors can hike to the top of either peak for panoramic views of the surrounding area. The park also offers climbing routes for climbers of all skill levels.

7.            Lake Lure is a picturesque lake surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering an array of water activities, such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The lake is dotted with several resorts and vacation rentals, making it a favorite destination for tourists.

8.            Elk Knob State Park features Elk Knob, a 5,520-foot peak that offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can hike to the summit on a moderate trail, or explore other trails in the park that showcase the area’s natural beauty.

9.            Gorges State Park boasts deep gorges, waterfalls, and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can explore Rainbow Falls, a 150-foot waterfall, or discover the park’s many other natural features. The park is also a popular destination for fishing and camping.

10.          Nantahala National Forest: This bad boy covers more than half a million acres – that’s a lot of trees! If you’re looking for something to do, you can drive along its winding roads, go fishing in its many streams, or go whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing down the Nantahala River.

11.          Dupont State Recreational Forest: Fancy a bit of waterfall spotting? Look no further! This forest is home to several stunners, including High Falls, Triple Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Bring your hiking boots or mountain bike and get ready for some breathtaking views. Plus, there’s even a swimming hole to cool off in afterward.

12.          Uwharrie National Forest: Are you ready to go wild? This 50,000-acre forest is the perfect place for a bit of adventure. Hike, fish, or boat to your heart’s content, and make sure to take in the stunning mountain views while you’re at it.

13.          Falls Lake State Recreation Area: If you’re looking for a relaxing day by the water, this is the spot. Rent a boat or fish for bass, catfish, or crappie in this 12,000-acre lake. Plus, there are plenty of picnic areas and hiking trails for when you want to stretch your legs.

14.          Carolina Beach State Park: Get your beach bod ready for some sunbathing, swimming, and fishing galore. Once you’ve soaked up enough vitamin D, expand your knowledge with some edutaining nature programs in the park.

15.          Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Do you have a need for speed? Climb to the top of the tallest natural sand dune on the East Coast and try your hand at sandboarding. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more mellow, take a hike or have a picnic with a view.

16.          Jordan Lake State Recreation Area: Come on down to the lake, y’all! Rent a boat or fish for bass, crappie, or catfish in this 14,000-acre lake. There are also plenty of hiking trails and picnic areas to explore.

17.          Raven Rock State Park: Get your hike on in this beautiful forest. Check out the Cape Fear River Basin views, fish for some catfish, sunfish, or bass, and don’t forget to pack a picnic!