editorial

Top 3 Spring Hikes at Natural Retreats

Get out and hit the trail this season. Our Natural Retreats Outfitter Managers are the experts in everything to see and do at their retreats, so we asked them to recommend their favorite hikes to take in the spring.

Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

Lake Toxaway lies in the heart of the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by over one million protected acres in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

Debi Whitmire’s Pick: Hike to Tuckaseigee Falls (Onion Falls) & Thurston Hatcher Falls (Rough Run Creek)

This moderate hike near Cashiers, north of Lake Glenville, just under the Lake Glenville Dam, is definitely my favorite hike in the spring time. The canopied, woodland trail is lined with wildflowers: bluets, violets, white violets, star chickweed, squirrel corn and hundreds of trillium, both white and purple. You will find this a mild 4.2 mile hike with less than a 100 foot elevation change. However, at the end of the trail you will have to scramble over rocks to get to the base of the falls. The falls along the trail are part of the west fork of the Tuckaseigee River.

The first falls you encounter, Thurston Hatcher Falls (Rough Run), is a dramatic 100-foot straight drop. A short distance farther is the two-tiered Tuckaseigee Falls pouring from the Lake Glennville Dam over a massive cliff face. The steep cascade looks enormous as it tumbles down a series of ledges. The rocks surrounding the pool at the base of the waterfall is a soothing and beautiful spot to rest and eat your trail lunch.

South Fork Lodge, Idaho

Natural Retreats South Fork Lodge rests on a dramatic bend of eastern Idaho’s world-famous South Fork on the Snake River in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Quincy Liby’s Pick: Palisades Bench Trail

The Palisades Bench Trail is one of my favorite hiking trails in the Swan Valley area, any time of the year. The trail begins at the bottom of Pine Creek Pass, about four miles outside of Swan Valley, where the South Fork Lodge is located. The Palisades Bench Trail is relatively flat, and traces the rim of the South Fork River, with stunning views of the river below. The trail is a total of 23 miles long, but don’t feel like you have to tackle the entire thing in one outing.

This area of Idaho is absolutely teeming with wildlife, so do not be surprised to spot a variety of deer, moose, and maybe even an elk. Keep your eyes on the trail, as these animals will be shedding their antlers – a little trail treasure to take home! Bring your binoculars for some birdwatching; geese, ducks, and osprey can all be found near the river. You could also catch bald eagles as they nest!

Hike this trail after May 1, and stop into the lodge for a well-deserved, post-hike beer or meal in the Riverside Bar & Grill.

Homestead Preserve

Whether you’re seeking wooded seclusion or a mountaintop panorama, Natural Retreats’ Handpicked Collection at the Homestead Preserve offers unique rental options that will accommodate your ideal escape.

Andrew Lacks’ Pick: Jackson River Gorge Trail at Hidden Valley

My favorite spring hike in Hot Springs is the Jackson River Gorge Trail in Hidden Valley, just outside Warm Springs. I like it because the entire three-mile trail follows the Jackson River through fields and valleys. The terrain changes through the course of the trail, so you get to experience a nice diversity of open land, forest, and mountainside.

I never hike this trail without my fly rod: Hidden Valley is a local fishing hot spot and over the course of the hike it is not unusual to see trout rising for spring hatches of Blue Wing Olives and March Browns. This is a dream trail for everyone from hardcore outdoors-man to families looking for a casual walk.