Skating Sugar Mountain

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(You can click on the link above to see our fun Sugar Mountain skating video)

This past August, I went up to visit some buddies that I’ve known since elementary/middle school – just a great group of friends! We spent 4 days at the very top of Sugar Mountain where one of the guys has a place.

There are two things you do on mountains when there’s no snow:

You climb up them … and you skate down them.

This probably wasn’t the smartest thing we did during our meet-up, but when you get together a bunch of old guys swapping stories about their youthful stupidity until late at night, you can bet that the very next morning, they’ll be up bright and early doing things just as unwise to prove that their best days are not behind them! 😂 Good times! No broken bones, car crashes or life flights off the side of mountains were required! 😂

I took a shot at the end holding my iPhone to show you what we were seeing, which was a little tricky, trying to pay attention to the road and not look at the phone while holding it up properly. Surfing on most days is a safer bet!

Roswell Mill at Old Mill Park, Alpharetta, GA

Here’s another park we hiked while up in Alpharetta, GA, a really cool urban park hidden right in the heart of the city. It seemed like a really great place to just hang out and cool down, in or out of the water. What a wonderful natural amenity for the locals.

Amicolola Falls, North Georgia

The same weekend we went up to Alpharetta, GA to see the Jack Johnson / Ziggy Marley concert, we ran up about an hour north to visit Amicolola Falls for some hiking. We had been here once before and it is such a gorgeous place. This state park features the third tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It’s only about 8 miles from the Appalachian Trail. We were loving the 70-degree temps after a brutally hot summer in Florida! Check this place out if you get a chance! Here are a few shots of the somewhat strenuous hike to the top of the falls. I’ll post some waterfall videos, as well.

Picken’s Nose

Here are a few pictures of Picken’s Nose in North Carolina. This was a fairly challenging, spectacular hike through a bear sanctuary. There weren’t many people there and the quiet hike through a truly enchanted-feeling forest was really something special. Eventually, you pop out into an area where there are some dramatic rock outcroppings with incredible views of the area. This place was great!

Family on a mountaintop rock outcropping at Picken's Nose
Sign points the way to the Picken's Nose trailhead
Sign on tree on Picken's Nose trail warns of bear sanctuary
A footpath leads through a quiet green mountain trail at Picken's Nose
A interesting, dramatic path through a tunnel of thickets on the Picken's Nose trail in North Carolina
The beautiful forest trail through a bear sanctuary at Picken's Nose in North Carolina.
Two women hiking along the forest trail at Picken's Nose.
Beautiful yellow flowers along the thickly wooded path through the woods at Picken's Nose.
Father and daughters on the trail at Picken's Nose
Mountain vista at the top of Picken's Nose
Dramatic view of green mountain range in summer at the top of Picken's Nose in North Carolina

Up, Up, Up…

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we visited a place called Picken’s Nose, which is a demanding hike through a bear sanctuary, but also one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina. One thing we didn’t realize before we went was that the entrance to the trailhead required an 8-mile drive up a winding, narrow gravel road, which would be fine in my Jeep, but not in my wife’s car, an Azera with a low-set base, which is the one we took on the trip. It was well worth it, but be aware should you ever decide to go.

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge

So, if you go to Tallulah Gorge State Park and show up early enough in the morning to get one of the 100 daily permits that are issued to go beyond the end of the regular trail all the way to the gorge bottom, and you make that difficult hike, this is your reward. It’s a pretty unique experience and a fun one!

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge State Park

Hiking Tallulah Gorge

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we ventured down into northern Georgia for a very special adventure – hiking Tallulah Gorge. This is a 3.4-mile hike down into the very steep 1,000-foot gorge. This was a serious hike, extremely difficult in parts, with a lot of boulder climbing. There’s a regular (fairly easy) trail that ends at a suspension bridge, but if you get a special permit (they only issue 100 per day, so you have to arrive early), then you can proceed off-trail and continue all the way on down to the gorge bottom, navigating along unmarked rock walls and trails along the river. Eventually, you come to a big sliding rock formation that dumps into a refreshing pool of water at the very bottom! You have to climb back up a ridiculously steep boulder trail to get back to the top, but it’s well worth it! My daughters, Kendall and Kaelyn led the way for our crew! Here are a few pics from the hike. I’ll post a video of the rock slide, next.

Warning signs about hiking in Tallulah Gorge in north Georgia.
Tallulah Gorge with waterfalls between steep large canyon walls
Heading down the stairs into Tallulah Gorge
Suspension Bridge inside Tallulah Gorge
Family standing on the suspension bridge in Tallulah Gorge in north Georgia
People walking across suspension bridge over Tallulah Gorge
Watering Hole at the bottom of Tallulah Gorge
Hiking up the steep trail in Tallulah Gorge
Hiking bear crawl-style up to the top of Tallulah Gorge
Top of trail looking down through forest in Tallulah Gorge
Couple - selfie in Tallulah Gorge
View from top of Tallulah Gorge looking straight down into rivier and boulders and rushing water.

Ziplining in Highlands Aerial Park

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we went to Highlands Aerial Park and went zip-lining through the Nantahala National Forest. I highly recommend it. We’ve been zip-lining in Florida, Costa Rica and Fiji, and this place was as fun and beautiful as any of those places. Here’s a video of one of the zips.