Gorgeous Gorges

A truly special place might be defined by the rare species contained within, the unusual weather patterns, or the interesting and beautiful topography. Gorges State Park contains all of these things and more. We took a hike with Robin Bailey of Play on Adventures, who offers guided group hikes of the area for beginner and seasoned hikers alike.

Bailey previously served in the U.S. Navy and is a recreational therapist and avid hiker who has worked for Play on Adventures for the past six years.

Gorges State Park

“I love taking people out into the woods and showing them the beauty of western North Carolina and teaching them how to hike safely. We live in a beautiful part of the country and a lot of people don’t experience it. I get them out there and get them hooked,” she said.

She took us out on the popular Rainbow Falls Trail in the 7,500-acre Gorges State Park, which is classified as a temperate rainforest and home to river gorges, rock walls, and a high concentration of rare species. The park was created in 1999, making it one of the newest state parks in North Carolina.

On the broad, downward sloping trail, we kept and eye out for snakes and made our way along the Horsepasture River, which tumbled, twisted and turned, full of boulders and inviting swimming holes. The imposing Rainbow Falls dwarfed visitors viewing it from the side, and impressive sight indeed.

The family appeal of the guided hike is great. She guides people of all ages, from very young to seniors who can hike better than she can. She keeps the little ones’ attention by presenting a scavenger hunt challenge to the kids: find certain plants, animals, feathers, acorns, or cloud patterns.

A big challenge for those not exposed to nature, she says, is the inability to unplug from their cell phones.

“When they do release and let go, it’s the best feeling for them, and they want to do it again,” she said. “Oftentimes we fall short of taking care of ourselves, and when we do, it’s so much better.”

To schedule a hike with Robin, head over to www.playonadventures.com. Book early if planning a summer hike during busy season.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .

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