Like a good stream crossing to cool off in on a summer’s day? Then you’ll love this loop: in the first 8 miles or so there are 16 crossings of Slickrock Creek, and not all of the hop-skip-and-jump-across-conveniently-placed-rocks variety. This is a wilderness, which means no bridges and in some spots no clear sense — immediately, at least — of where the trail crosses; you just know it does because the wildly vegetated walls of this narrow valley clamp down to impassible. Take a fishing pole because there’s some great trout pools, and plan on hiking in water sandals. This is a long trip — a nearly 16-mile loop — doable as a day hike but better-suited for backpacking. For the later, water won’t be an issue.

More info: USDA Forest Service, Nantahala National Forest, Cheoah Ranger District, 828.479.6431; “Backpacking North Carolina,” Trip No. 33.

Map: “Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and Citico Creek Wilderness in the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests,” USDA Forest Service.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Slickrock Creek Loop in a larger map

Location: Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, Nantahala National Forest
Nearest town: Robbinsville
Latitude: N35 27.062
Longitude: W83 56.801
Difficulty: Hard
Distance: 15.8 miles
Loop/one-way: Loop
Time to complete: All day