Hey everyone! In June 2017, we took a mini vacation to North Carolina – one of our favorite states! This was a hybrid trip. The first couple days were spent backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. The second half the of the trip we explored Asheville, North Carolina. For any of you who have been thinking about doing some legit backpacking on the AT, do it! It’s so good. This was our third section hike on the AT. We hiked southbound (starting in Hot Springs, NC), and did 9 miles on the first day. Side note: We totally saw a bear! It saw us, sat up, and ran down the mountain ridge. Bye Felicia! The second day, we hiked nearly 15 miles. We were blown away by the beauty of Max Patch. It’s a popular grassy bald with 360-degree views of the mountains. The AT goes up and over it. The third and final day, we hiked another 15 miles or so. It was brutal, with a couple thousand feet of descent in a few short miles. Call me crazy, but I think going down is harder. In all, we hiked around 40 miles in 2.5 days. We were worn out, but refreshed by being unplugged and in nature.

We then cooled off in a mountain creek near our car, got ourselves large DQ blizzards and fries, and drove south to our SWEET Airbnb off grid cabin. Did I mention it is on a mountain-top with 125 acres, and outdoor shower, and a garage door that opens up for an airy mountain view? If you’re looking for simple, peaceful, affordable, and adventurous times book this place now! For our time in Asheville (which was WAY too short), we started that night with Urban Orchard Cider. We got some flights and fancy cheeses and ate out on the patio at dusk. So yummy!

The next morning we ate breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe (delicious stuffed french toast), and toured the Biltmore. This place is unreal! This is a must if you’re visiting the area. We went as soon as it opened. It was nice to have a little time without hoards of crowds and shuttle buses around. The basic ticket gets you onto the grounds and a self-guided tour of the mansion. We did that and then walked around the grounds. You could easily spend two days here. There is a conservatory too, so of course we had to go see the plants. We then got some lunch at Taco Billy and browsed some rad shops on the west side of Asheville. After getting some coffee and donuts at Vortex, we then had an appointment for a foot soak and massage. It was so needed after all that hiking. I highly recommend Wake Foot Sanctuary. They were fabulous! We then shopped around downtown Asheville and grabbed some dinner and wine. Farm Burger was so yummy! And 5 Walnut Wine Bar was a great atmosphere with delicious wine selections. The place was packed and some quality live (jazz) music going on. The final morning we left early from our Airbnb and drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway a bit (another must if you’re visiting this area). We had breakfast at the Pisgah Inn Restaurant. We were the only ones there, and had an incredible view of the mountains!

Thinking about visiting North Carolina, and want more information/details about what we did and where we went? Do you live there and want some rad photos? We’d love to go back! Read more about us and our travels!

Day 1: Start backpacking southbound from Hot Springs, NC on the AT
Day 2: Full day of hiking on the Appalachian Trail
Day 3: Finish hiking back to car and drive to Airbnb
Day 4: Full day in Asheville (Biltmore, food, shopping, foot soak/massage, etc.)
Day 5: Breakfast at Pisgah Inn on Blue Ridge Parkway then drive home


Emily Hary is an adventurous outdoor wedding + elopement photographer.
Although based in the Midwest, she is available for worldwide travel.