Looking for bears

Let’s go 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 of years ago,I heard about a natural 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 hunting for bears…

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…

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.

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

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.

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

Follow your travel dreams– even if only one weekend at a time.


  1. Wow that’s an awesome piece of mountain!! Great picture 🙂
    San recently posted…Buenos Aires – Part 10: Festival del BosqueMy Profile

    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.

  2. This is so cool! Never heard of this before, but would love to see this for myself!
    Marissa | It’s The Little Things recently posted…You Could Win the Trip of a Lifetime!My Profile

    1. I only live about an hour and a half away, and I hadn’t heard of it until this summer.

  3. 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.
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Autumn in ConnecticutMy Profile

    1. I’ve only seen a bear once while out running, but I smell them all the time. They are so cute…from a distance.

  4. So interesting! Love all the autumn colors too! 🙂
    Vlad recently posted…How Much Does It Cost To Travel To Romania?My Profile

    1. It really is. It happens in February/March too, but I’d wager it’s not as nice since none of the trees have leaves on them.

  5. 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.
    Carmen (CarmensTravelTips) recently posted…What is TBEX?My Profile

  6. This reminds me of hiking in Boulder, Colorado and seeing warning signs. I did not want to be found by a bear, that’s for sure! 🙂
    Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted…A relaxing week in southern France with Viking River CruisesMy Profile

  7. 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!
    Anda recently posted…Alaskan Trails: Walking to the Nugget FallsMy Profile

  8. This time of year is so beautiful with the changing of the leaves. The vibrant colours on rolling hills are awesome.
    travelling chingrita recently posted…#SurferSunday: Frédéric GodemetMy Profile

    1. I’m glad I live in an area where we get to see this every year.

  9. This is so cool, I’d love to see it! I love bears and there is no doubt this kind is less worrying than their furry counterpart 😉
    Marta recently posted…On the trail of fairies and ghosts in Greenan maze, IrelandMy Profile

    1. Here you only have to worry about other people jostling for a spot to take the best pictures. The other bears can be scary.

  10. Wow! That’s so cool. I had never heard of the shadow of the bear before.
    Mags recently posted…Tennent’s Lager Tour at Wellpark Brewery in GlasgowMy Profile

    1. I don’t live too far away and I didn’t hear of it until last year!

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