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Note: This is part of a history series on popular tourism activities in Transylvania County. A corresponding display is on the second floor of the Transylvania County Library May – July 2024.

Camp Rockbrook horseback riders 1926

People challenge themselves in the “wilderness.” The rugged landscape of the Appalachian mountains creates many opportunities for physical activity. Whether mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running, hiking, camping, or horseback riding, people have found enjoyment in the physical challenges of interacting with the wilderness of forests and various terrains of the mountains.

Boy Scouts backpacking trip in Cedar Mountain 1980

Both tourists and locals find themselves in the outdoors: climbing rocky cliff faces, hiking high trails, exploring difficult terrain on horseback, biking both winding roads and technical trails, and camping to experience the land. The abundance of public lands provide more opportunities to experience the landscape than anyone could complete in a lifetime.

Rock climbers 1997

Gear, apparel, and equipment have all changed over time to enhance the experience. In years past, outdoor clothing was chosen for durability and its ability to get dirty and allow freedom of movement. Eventually, new synthetic materials and techniques changed the look of outdoor adventure.

Camping in Balsam Grove 1961

New materials for gear have changed too with lighter weight yet stronger capabilities for items like canoes, bikes, tents, and boots. The ability people have to carry and use gear has been improved and concurrently has altered the very activities that they engage in.

A sense of adventure and the opportunity to interact with a wilder landscape have been part of the draw to Transylvania County and will continue to in the future.

Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. This article was written by Local History Librarian Laura Sperry. Sources available upon request. For more information, comments, or suggestions, contact NC Room staff at [email protected] or 828-884-1820. 

Early mountain bikers (including Eugene Sawyer) 1895

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