Looking for bears

It’s fall…and in my opinion one of the best things about fall is leaf color. We don’t always get a lot of color in these parts mostly because of our schizophrenic weather patterns [yesterday it was 80 and sunny…this weekend 50’s and cloudy] BUT the mountains of North Carolina aren’t too far away and the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway is an easy drive away.

A couple years I heard about a phenomenon called Shadow of the Bear.  It’s in an area of NC more famous for its spectacular waterfalls and day hikes, but in the fall, it’s famous for the leaves.

Let’s go bear-hunting…

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no, not those bears [all though those bears are very cute if you come in contact with them in a zoo, not so cute if you come across them while on your afternoon run]…

these bears…

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One of the wonderful things about living in Arden, North Carolina is its relative proximity to both the southern Appalachian mountains, the South Carolina coast, and the major cities of Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.

Less than an hour away, nestled in the southern corner of the Nantahala Forest, in southwestern North Carolina, is one of the coolest natural experiences around…the shadow of the bear.  It happens twice a year–once from late February to mid March and the other from mid-October to mid-November.  The fall event is by far the most popular since it combines fall color with the bear’s appearance.  I like to imagine that the bear is slowing making its way across the mountain on its way to its winter hibernation…or waking up

It’s starts off with just a small peak of the bear’s head.

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The bear makes its appearance for about 30 minutes each day [when it’s sunny, of course] each day revealing a little bit more.

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If you happen to be into hiking exploring Whiteside Mountain can make this a worthwhile day trip.  The mountain’s cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. The rock is somewhere between 390 to 460 million years old [what’s 70 million years between friends]. The 2-mile ‘moderate’ trail starts as a old logging road and takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs [plenty of railings for safety].  Follow the road for about a mile until you reach the top. The trail continues about 1/2 long the ridge of the mountain, plenty of places to enjoy the views from the rock face. There are quite a few “educational” signs along the way to add interest. Toward to end of the walk along the mountaintop, look for the highest point with the rock carved “Alt. 4,930 ft.” The last 1/2 mile part of the trail is a steep downhill section that leads you back to the logging road near the parking area.

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The best viewing spot for the shadow of the bear is right off Highway 64 at Rhodes Big View Overlook.

Follow your travel dreams–one weekend at a time.
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17 thoughts on “Looking for bears

    1. It’s a pretty surreal experience to see. I like to go about every five days or so and see the progression of the bear. It really does look like its walking across the mountain.

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  1. I’ve never been to South Carolina, but bear country is huge in the USA and I enjoyed seeing these fascinating creatures in Connecticut, where my son lives. In fact they come so close to the house there, that it’s almost scary. I’ve seen them a couple of times: mother and cubs, sniffing around my son’s back yard for food.

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  2. The scenery itself in SC is beautiful, especially in the fall. We went to TN one summer and run into three cubs. We didn’t stay long because we knew that the mother wasn’t that far away. They are really cute but from a distance. Thanks for sharing and linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

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  3. It’s a very interesting experience to see this fierce animals from close by. We went all the way to Alaska to see them and couldn’t see any. When we returned from the trip we went to Connecticut to see our son and what we could not see in Alaska we saw in his backyard: a mama bear with two cubs about 5 feet away from his patio. Way too close for comfort!

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