One of my favorite hiking spots to hit up in the summer is the Linville Gorge. It is located in the Pisgah National Forest in Marion, N.C. Hiking in the gorge has been one of my favorite experiences when it comes to hiking and swimming. Another favorite spot of mine, which I went to right after hiking, was Lake James. Lake James did not take long at all to go to right after hiking in Pisgah Forest. These two spots are a great day trip to take in the summer time.

Photo by Nicole Buckenham

When you first start to get hiking in Linville Gorge you will quickly come across a scenic view. You get to the top and there are benches around you looking down onto a few little waterfalls. There are a lot of rocks and water that make it such a beautiful scene to see after hiking. Once you get past this part of your hike, there will be a right turn you can take. When I went, it was roped off for only experienced hikers, but I went anyways. It was a quick hike down to the bottom. I would say it was about less than a mile long. Once you get to the bottom, you are surrounded by water and a few tiny waterfalls. It was very secluded with few people and the perfect place to swim too. If you want a peaceful place to enjoy nature and swim around, this is a great option. After that, you hike back up to the top and finish the trail back around. This was definitely one of my favorite hiking spots because the views were spectacular. The Linville Gorge area is great if you really want to enjoy nature and swim in the wild.

After this, a great spot to hit up and relax a little would be Lake James. This is a lake surrounded by sand that makes it seem like you are at the beach. For hot summer days, this is a great spot to go to without driving all the way to the coast. You can lay out and soak up some summer rays. There is a lifeguard here to watch over people too for safety. The water is cool and you are surrounded by mountain tops everywhere around you. This definitely beats the beach in my opinion because the views around you make it worthwhile. The only downside is it costs money to swim in the area, but it is under ten dollars. When you leave Lake James, there are some restaurants nearby that we do not get here in Charlotte. The restaurants consist of great pub food or some unique mountain food that the city just doesn’t offer.

If you are looking for a day trip to take and get some exercise at the same time, Lake James and Linville Gorge hiking is a great idea. Even though North Carolina heat can sometimes be unbearable, there are so many options to cool off in water throughout the hike or you can wait till you get to Lake James. If you are someone that is an adventure seeker, these spots are great to explore in the summer.