Western North Carolina has become our playground for adventure over the last year. Our kids spent two weeks at summer camp in NC this year, so we had a great opportunity to actually vacation with just the two of us. While we definitely rested and relaxed, we had an active vacation in North Carolina.

If you missed our vacation post from last year, check it out here. That vacation became known as the “silver lining” trip as we had multiple challenges along the way. However, we still managed to have a great time.

This year, our trip brought us to the small town of Horse Shoe where we stayed in a tiny house for four nights. After our stay off the grid, we moved into the city of Asheville to experience the city and some delicious food.

If you are looking for a vacation with some adventures, here were a few of our favorite things.


We did some fantastic hikes during our vacation in the mountains. I always try to find hikes that won’t be overcrowded and are also slightly challenging. We had a chance to get in three hikes on our own this year. All were fantastic.

Green River Narrows

After an 8 hour drive, we knew we would benefit from some movement. So, I found a trail that wasn’t too far out of the way from our final destination. This brought us to Green River Narrows. The trail description was listed as “strenuous” but I figured we’d be fine since we are pretty active.

The distance was slightly off {unless it really took us 50 minutes to walk 1.2 miles}, but the description was right on. Toward the end of the trail, you find a very steep descent that takes you to the Green River. Thankfully, there were ropes set up to help the climb down {and back up}.

This trail was absolutely beautiful from start to finish, it was empty, and the views at the bottom were stunning. We found swimming holes, lots of nature, and we definitely felt like we got a workout in. It was a great hike that was technical and challenging. It took us about 2.5 hours with the stop to enjoy the view at the bottom.

John’s Rock

Last year, we had the opportunity to rappel John’s Rock. The weather wasn’t great last year, so we didn’t have the chance to fully appreciate the view from the top. This year, we hiked the Cat Gap to John’s Rock trail. It’s about 5 miles, and parking is really easy.

The trail was very moderate, but the climb at the top was more challenging. The view from the top of John’s Rock is absolutely incredible. This trail had a little bit of traffic, but we only encountered about 10 other people. It also had a few creek crossings which were nice.

John’s Rock was a great adventure, and while it only took us about 3 hours, you could plan for a little longer if you wanted to take some breaks. This is a view that you should definitely see if you are in western North Carolina.

Twin Falls

This was our last hike. Twin Falls was a great, easy trail with lots of nice creek crossings. You follow the creek for most of the trail, and since it’s off the beaten path, we didn’t see many people.

The Twin Falls hike is great for kids, dogs, or people that aren’t experienced in hiking. We only found one section that was a little technical, but it was pretty easy. This trail was around 4 miles.

The falls at the end were absolutely beautiful. We loved that you could actually get to the base of the falls. You can find plenty of exploring at the falls and along the way.


I don’t love making a ton of plans while we are on vacation, but I did book two guided adventures this year. Guided trips give us the opportunity to try something different, to see parts of the area that we normally wouldn’t see, and to work with a professional.

Big Bradley Waterfall Rappel

I don’t know that I can actually put this experience into words. We booked this trip through Green River Adventures, and it was fantastic. Our guides were very helpful, and the experience was smooth from start to finish.

We took a short {but really awesome} hike in before starting our practice rappel of about 30 ft. It took a minute to get the hang of the rappel, but most of us in the group breezed through this part. Then, we were off to the big boy.

Big Bradley is a 200′ waterfall. We hiked up, and I watched closely as the guides set the ropes up. I knew it would be virtually impossible to actually fall, but it’s still a bit scary to just lean back off the edge of a rock as a waterfall is roaring right next to you.

This experience was thrilling. I would have loved to do it again…I’m sure I would have been a bit calmer. Although I was slightly freaking out, I did make myself stop along the way down to check out the views. Something about a waterfall and 200′ of rock makes you feel incredibly small.

This was by far one of my favorite things that we’ve done. I would highly recommend this adventure if you want a thrill.

Fly Fishing

This adventure was more for Josh, but I love to fish, so I was all in too. We booked a private wading charter through Davidson River Outfitters. We’ve done a lot of fishing, but we have zero experience fly fishing. Well I’ll just tell you…it’s harder than it looks.

Thankfully, our guide Zach was so patient and also a great teacher. Josh got the hang of it right away, but it took me a bit longer. By the end of our trip, I could tell I was stressing our guide out a bit since I had yet to catch one fish {operator error}. So, he took us to one last spot and bam…6 fish for me.

It was nice to be out wading in the river on a beautiful day. When you are fly fishing, there’s always something to do, but it’s so peaceful. I don’t know that I’ll pick it up again in the future, but I’m so glad I gave it a try.

Book an active vacation.

If you want a vacation with plenty of activity, a laid back atmosphere, and an overall great time, check out western North Carolina. The people are great, the waterfalls are stunning, and you’ve got the option of Asheville for great shopping and restaurants.

The brewery scene throughout the region is fantastic, and there really is so much to see. Whether you are traveling as a couple or with the family, you can get adventurous in this great region.

Why not book yourself an active vacation in western North Carolina?

Need to get in shape before you go? Jump into one of our Fixed on Fitness classes if you are local. If you’re not local to Pensacola, schedule a call with us and let us see how we can help you reach your goals.

Happy adventuring!


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