Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Walking across North Carolina

Posted January 5, 2009

A relative is planning a solo walk across America. He sees it as an opportunity for great adventure and a chance to ponder his future. Think of all the interesting people he will meet along the way. Think of the diverse scenery. Also, consider the challenges – the aches and pains, traffic hazards and boredom during flat and lonely stretches of America’s highway snake. Plus, what do you do when it’s all over?

I’ve borrowed my relative’s idea and generated the following Carolina Conversations blog topic: Walking Across North Carolina. Personally I would love to do that. How about you? What route would you take? What do you want to see? Would you go alone or with a group or a single partner?

One way to see the state would be to travel Highway 64. You could travel from Manteo to Murphy. However, I wouldn’t want to limit myself to US 64. I think I would focus first on scenic places such as areas protected by the NC Nature Conservancy and state parks. I would also like to steer toward towns with colorful characters and interesting businesses. I’d like to taste the full four seasons of the Old North State including a silent mountain hike in the snow. I might also weave a bit of Charles Frazier into my route borrowing from his marvelous book Cold Mountain.

Those are some of the things I would like to do in my hike across North Carolina. Please share your own itineraries.


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  • tspoon Jan 5, 2009

    I met a former park ranger (Tim Pegram) who has hiked the entire Blue Ridge Parkway and did the walk to Cold Mountain. He was thru hiking the AT this summer/fall. His book is The Blue Ridge Parkway By Foot. Check it out!

  • whoknew35 Jan 5, 2009

    I have a friend who walked across the state in the mid-70's while running for NC State Senate (to protest Jimmy Carter's farm policies I think). David McKnight is his name, he use to be a journalist and now is a local street musician. Hopefully he'll read your article and respond. I'm sure he could add some insight.

  • Wheelman Jan 5, 2009

    I'd give anything just about it to walk or ride a horse or mule all over the state. I'm not too much on bikes. It would be safer with someone else, but it might be more interesting alone. I guess it would be a matter of what the purpose was and how you planned to log your travel. To properly see it, I think you would have to sort of zig zag your way north and south as you progressed east-west or west-east. There's just way too much state to take much of a direct route. I sure wouldn't want a schedule to meet. That would take much of the enjoyment out of it. I would, however, want a plan of where I was going and what I wanted to see. Everything else would just be fill-in. Good Lord! If I just didn't have these bill to pay I'd be making my plans right now! I'll be daydreaming about it for days now and start getting a little sideways knowing that I can't do anything about it right now.

  • MaplesMom Jan 5, 2009

    I think it would be a fun adventure with a group of my closest girlfriends. Leave the menfolk at home and us girls take to the wild. (That way we wouldn't get flack if we cheated or stayed in motels along the way!)But for the most part- I'd like to stay away from highways. Start at the coast and move forward due west (thanks to the handy compass we would have with us). I watched the movie "Cars" over the holiday and it reminded me of how beautiful the land is off the beaten path.

  • ziradog Jan 5, 2009

    While no quite all the way across the state, I used to take Highway 27 from near Charlotte to Kinston, then down US-70 to Beaufort. This trip took me from the Piedmont, over the Uwharrie Mountains, through the Sandhills, and into the Coastal Plain. It was a neat lesson in geography.

  • thefensk Jan 5, 2009

    It has been a while since I read it, but he spent a while along the Appalachain Trail, and spent some time working near, I think, Murphy. The first book (the only one I've read) only went from DC to New Orleans.

  • NC is my home Jan 5, 2009

    People interested in walking (or riding) along the NC roads less traveled can get free information from 1-800-VISITNC or at WWW.VISITNC.COM. They'll send you a nice travel guide & map. Also you can get all sorts of free maps (biking, scenic byways, ferry schedules, etc)from DOT at We have so much worthwhile to see in North Carolina!

  • bleslie Jan 5, 2009

    Didn't Peter Jenkins hike part of the Appalachain Trail in his cross country journey?

  • thefensk Jan 5, 2009

    I'd agree that research should be complete. Sticking to major highways would be easier but then you really miss the good parts.

    Suggest your relative pick up a copy of "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins. He actually spent a good deal of time in NC. Even in the 70s, it was not an easy undertaking.

    About 25 years ago, I met a Swiss fellow on a solo bike-ride across the US. I ran into him in Texas. He eventually made it.

  • blytle Jan 5, 2009

    First, I wouldn't do it alone. I would want someone or people around me so that we could share and discuss what we were seeing. That will make the experience much more interesting. Second, I would want to spend a good amount of time researching various routes to make the most of the experience. Bill, I agree with you that the small towns would be of interest for their history and their characters. I love snow, so I'd need to be in the mountains in winter. I would like to be at the coast in winter or fall, too -- I don't like the hot, tourist-filled beaches. So much to ponder. Good blog topic!!!

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