Shortoff Mountain Trail, North Carolina

Shortoff Mountain Trail, North Carolina | Always A Foreigner

Caren and Cazzie

Hi, We're Caren and Cazzie and we're Always A Foreigner. Welcome to our travel blog! We hope you find it useful. We love waterfalls, street eats, and anything to do with travel and adventure. We met while volunteering in India, and since then have made it our goal to travel to as many places as we can. Join us on our journey!

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Shortoff Mountain Trail, North Carolina

Shortoff Mountain trail never seems to be included on any “Top Hikes” lists that I see from North Carolina, but it certainly deserves a spot. We’ve been ticking hike after hike off our list while living here, and this one blew us out of the water. With jaw dropping views of Lake James at the base of the mountain, and layers of mountains that can be seen beyond the lake’s waters this trail is hard to beat.

Directions

I’ve had my eye on the Shortoff Mountain trail for a while now, but it seems every time we try to do the hike something gets in our way. The trail head can be a little tricky to find, as the GPS will take you just past the road you need to turn on. We actually got so lost the first time we tried to find it, we gave up and did a different hike instead. Keep a lookout for Wolf Pit Road off of NC 126, which is the gravel road that will take you to the trail head. As you continue down the gravel road for about 3 miles, you’ll eventually reach a dead end where parking is available. Parking is limited, and this is an extremely popular backpacker start so the spaces fill up quickly.

Located within the bounds of the Linville Gorge Wilderness area, the Shortoff Mountain trail starts on the opposite side of many of the other hikes also a part of the wilderness area. This means new views! After powering through the inclined portion of the hike, which lasts for about 2-3 miles, you will reach semi-level land that is easy to walk along.

shortoff mountain trail

Recent Forest Fires

Unfortunately, the entire area was just ravaged by a forest fire of massive scale and has devastated a lot of the vegetation. On the drive to the trail, we were deeply saddened by the loss of vegetation and nature, and while on the trail the devastation was even more pronounced. This fire was caused by lightning, but many other fires are caused by human foolishness. It’s important to remember the Leave No Trace Principles and practice good fire safety. If you’re not sure what the 7 principles are, check out this article that explains them when you get a chance. 

shortoff mountain trail

 

We wandered our way about the trail, not particularly concerned about how much time it was taking us. We stopped along the cliff faces and sat for a while, watching a hawk hunt prey in the swirling mountain winds. It refreshed us. Sometimes just being a part of nature is more important than how far you hike, or where you make it to.

shortoff mountain trail

Hike Distance

While we could have continued on this trail towards Table Rock, we instead chose to turn back. At this point, we had walked about 4.5 miles, meaning our total hike distance was 9 miles. Coming down the mountain was a much different beast than going up. All was fine until we reached the steep downhill portion. There are seemingly never ending switchbacks, and while we didn’t have much problems going up, going down seemed much more tiring. All of our hard work was made worth it though thanks to the views of Lake James in the distance.

shortoff mountain trail


I think it’s safe to say we gained a new favorite hike to add to our ever growing list. I’m sure we’ll be returning to take on the trail for a longer distance soon. We have so much exploring to do!

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  • Almost the weekend! ☀️😍 What's everyone's plans? You can find us nestled somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains....hoping the cooler temperatures has made the leaves a little more colorful.
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  • Lazy days don't need to be spent inside ☀️
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We recently received our @soloeyewear sunglasses and absolutely love them! This is a stellar company that uses recycled plastic or sustainability sourced bamboo to make their sunglasses, and are also committed to restoring vision around the world through their profits. They've restored vision to 15,000+ people in need already! If you're in need of new sunglasses, I highly recommend looking at Solo Eyewear...I'm glad we did 😊
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  • We were in full leaf chasing mode this weekend, and I had all my spots planned where I wanted to go. I was pretty bummed because a road closure on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Saturday forced us to head to lower elevations where the leaves weren't as vibrant. We found an awesome campsite though, completely secluded in the woods by ourselves. We spent the day slack lining, laying in the hammock, and trying and surprisingly succeeding to light a fire with damp wood. As we packed up in the morning aiming to head back up to my original planned spots...we realized we would run out of gas 😑😑😑 Long story short, we had to head back from where we came from and to be honest, I was really upset. We came around the curve though and were greeted with these blankets of clouds over the mountains, and I instantly forgot I was ever upset at all. Sometimes, things really do turn out just fine. .
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  • When I first met Cazzie, it was in the middle of a crowded and hot room outside of Delhi, India. If you told me five years ago I was going to meet my future husband in India of all places, I would have most likely laughed and called you crazy. And yet here we are....chasing waterfalls, traveling across the world, and craziest of all, planning a wedding. I wish we could just gather up our closest loved ones, hike up a mountain, promise forever and toast the night away. Because what else do we really need? . .
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#wildernessculture #roamtheplanet #ExploreCarolina #exploretocreate #exploretheworld #exploretheglobe #travelawesome #travelcouple #couplegoals #Fall #hikingadventures #liveauthentic #traveladdict #natureaddict #doyoutravel #hikinglife #outdoorlife #findmeoutside #waterfall #northcarolina #nc #wnc #outdoorsy #adventureawaits #travelgram #gooutside #optoutside #getoutstayout #outside #waterfalls
  • Cazzie always used to brag about North Carolina...always telling me it was the best state with beaches, mountains, and everything in between. I never really believed him. When I thought of North Carolina, I didn't know about the parkway, or Appalachia, or horses running wild near the ocean...I didn't know about pimento cheese, or grits, or North Carolina BBQ sauce. Now I do though. And I can't say it's the best state because I haven't been to all 50, but I can say it's pretty up there. Especially in the changing season. @visitnc .
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  • Foggy days spent exploring 🍂. .
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This last weekend we spent our time in the picturesque high country town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. We chose to hike Grandfather Mountain on Saturday, only to find the further we hiked, the more foggy and ominous the weather became. About a 1/2 mile from the top, we realized that we had hiked smack dab into the middle of a cloud. But even with the dampness, we wouldn't have spent our day any other way. .
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