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Center for Carolina Living River renewal. Hundreds of Carolina rivers have replenished souls and encouraged settlements for centuries.
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coasting the mountains: a guide to western north carolina
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Carolina Mountains --
Their Regional Names
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igh Country Splendor -- About six years after establishing the Sierra Club in 1892, John Muir visited Grandfather Mountain, where he was so overcome with what he called "all Heaven come to earth" that he began to jump and sing. It's a geniune reaction to one of North Carolina's most beautiful natural attractions around, although today, it's much easier to follow in Muir's footsteps.

The recently refurbished mile-high bridge gives visitors a bird's-eye view of the mountain, which remains much the same as when John Muir made his climb.

Grandfather Mountain, highest peak in the Blue Ridge, is the only private park in the world designated by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve. Justifiably the region's focal point, Grandfather is home to wildlife and plants of all kinds. Now, visitors can drive up to the crest, saving their energies for hiking trails, sightseeing and picnics. Around Grandfather Mountain are small towns that beckon world-weary travelers to refresh their spirits.

The Carolina Crescent

It's aptly named -- this curved area of land on the southern side of the high peaks of the Blue Ridge amid its deepest, shadowy valleys.

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The ribbons that cut through the land include ancient rivers, trout-filled brooks, old trails, and for those who care more about destination than journey, Interstate 85. In every nook, you'll find artists' enclaves, shops, galleries, coffeehouses and gourmet cafes - enough to suit every taste and pocketbook.

This moon-shaped area with so much activity is touted as the Carolina Crescent. The flow of warm air surrounding this section of the Appalachian Mountains produces what some claim is the most ideal four-season climate in the entire United States.

Each small town has its own brand of fiery advocates, some transplants and others multi-generation landowners. Bound by the Blue Ridge on the northwest, the Carolina Crescent includes Highlands, Cashiers, Brevard, Hendersonville, Spartanburg, Greenville and Clemson.

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... asks Juliet. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." William Shakespeare -- Romeo and Juliet

Here's a little crib sheet to help decipher the myriad of mountain names in the Carolinas:

~Appalachian Mountains
Chief mountain system of eastern North America, and oldest U.S. mountains. They stretch from Quebec to central Alabama, forming a divide between the rivers that flow into the Atlantic and those that flow into the Mexican Gulf.

~Black Mountains
A range of mountains in North Carolina that includes Mt. Mitchell, Mount Craig, and Balsam Cone, some of the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. Those mountains are a part of Pisgah National Forest, northeast of Asheville.

~Blue Ridge Mountains
Eastern ranges of the Appalachian Mountain System, extending from southeastern Pennsylvania to Northern Georgia. In North Carolina, the Blue Ridge forms the Eastern section of a mountain chain over 75 miles wide. Other parts of this chain include the Black Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains. The name comes from the blue tone of the forested slopes when seen at a distance.

~Great Smoky Mountains
Form the boundary between Tennessee and North Carolina. They got their name from the misty haze that often hovers.
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Katherine O. Pettit has worked as a writer, magazine editor, printer and public relations consultant. The Columbia resident has published more than 250 articles in magazines and newspapers. Her writing explores a variety of subjects including travel, lifestyles, business and management. Center for Carolina Living
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