Hiking and heritage converge in new trail guide

A new hiking book on Western North Carolina puts the regions trails in a new perspective. It weaves together the classic nuts-and-bolts trail instructions with history, stories and anecdotes of the trail and its surrounds.

Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage was written by Asheville outdoor writer and hiking aficionado Danny Bernstein. The guide packs all the requisite how-to info into the trail write-ups: maps, trail descriptions and driving directions to the trail head. But Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage brings the trail to life by giving hikers a colorful story about the place they are venturing.

“It gives you something extra: an inside look at the heritage behind the trails that even long-time residents and experienced hikers may not know,” said Penn Dameron, executive director of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. “Your hike will be more than just a walk in the woods. You’ll develop an even greater appreciation for these wonderful mountains.”

George Ellison, outdoor writer and naturalist in Bryson City, said the flourishing number of trail guides over the past half century half become “progressively more informative and accurate as to logistics regarding access, length, difficulty, water sources, shelters, regulations, and so on.” Bernstein’s book, however, is a “trail compendium,” Ellison said, that “deftly assimilates” not only the flora and fauna into trail descriptions but even the literary and cinematic heritage of some sites.

At 384 pages, the guide recommends 66 day hikes ranging in length from 1.3 to 13.1 miles and spanning the mountains of Western North Carolina. The book was published by Milestone Press, based in Bryson City. Bernstein’s first hiking book, published in 2007, is Hiking the Carolina Mountains.

“Bernstein sends us out to explore not only the well-known hiking destinations, but also the places...that have been neglected by other guides,” Leonard Adkins, author of Walking the Blue Ridge, wrote in a review of the book.

The book also includes a few hidden gems off-the-beaten path of other trail guides, like the new Gorges State Park and Hickory Nut Gorge area around Chimney Rock.

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