north carolina

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site | Travel (68/556)

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site | Travel (68/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) After many instances of being in the area and never making my way to this national park unit, I finally set aside a few hours to stop in. The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is located in North Carolina, outside Asheville. The home, grounds and surrounding area are lovely.

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site | Travel (68/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Big Glassy Mountain Trail - a 4.6 mile hike to Glassy Mountain. Deemed moderate, except for the more strenuous hike to the summit.
  2. Front Lake Loop - a scenic .4 mile hike around Front Lake. A beautiful option while making your way to the Sandburg Home and/or Goat Barn.
  3. Little Glassy Mountain Trail - a short half mile hike, taking you over the summit of Little Glassy Mountain.
  4. Memminger Trail Loop - just shy of a full mile, this hike takes you around Little Glassy Mountain.
  5. Sandburg Home Tour - the home is open for tours each day of the year, except for a few holidays. A small fee is required.

Tell me all about your favorite spots to visit in the comments below!

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site | Travel (68/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Pinehurst Fog | Photograph Story

Pinehurst Fog | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Once upon a time, I lived in Pinehurst, North Carolina. While living among the golf courses, I had the pleasure of meeting so many great people and still call many dear friends today.

After photographing a lifestyle session on a cool, foggy morning, I decided to switch lenses and capture a few landscape photographs.

I am *mildly* obsessed with fog and fall.

This morning was a lovely combination of both. The pops or orange and red in the trees with the misty fog moving between the branches was absolutely beautiful.

Having a photograph from an old home, with nature elements I love, makes my heart happy :)

American Bullfrog | Photograph Story

American Bullfrog | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Spring seems to be fading quickly as summer temperatures and sounds roll in.

Hearing toads, frogs and everything else calling at night reminds me of a fun childhood, mostly spent outside.

When I captured this photograph my mind wandered, bringing me back to evenings playing hide-and-seek, running to the ice cream truck, rolling down hills, chasing lightning bugs and catching toads and frogs as they hopped by.

When pressing the shutter button, I hoped my nephew would enjoy a closer look at what I found. He loved zooming in and out on the "big eye" :)

Bark Texture | Photograph Story

Bark Texture | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Nature preserves are always full of goodness, from wildlife to vegetation, landscape views and fun trees. I had my fill of all four during my morning hike in North Carolina :)

After a brief standoff with a colorful (likely poisonous) snake on the trail, I came upon this tree.

The non-linear pattern on the bark immediately stood out. I LOVE finding textures in nature.

Standing a few feet from the tree, I zoom in to capture the intricate details of the lines, raised edges and green goodness between the cracks.

My eyes enjoy wandering around this photograph, taking in the contrasting colors and small details.

If you ever see someone with their camera pointed at a tree, this may be the end result of their somewhat silly stance :)

Nantahala National Forest | Travel (31/556)

Nantahala National Forest | Travel (31/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) Driving through Nantahala National Forest offered my first views of turning leaves and fall foliage. Red trees were popping between the green pines and leaves. I must admit, excitement was in the air as I drove through :)

Nantahala National Forest | Travel (31/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s)

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • Bridal Veil Falls - a 120 foot waterfall, 1.2 miles west of Highlands.
  • Cliffside Lake Recreation Area - has six short hiking trails with some leading to waterfalls.
  • Cullasaja Gorge - 7.5 miles of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, parallel to the Cullasaja River.
  • Dry Falls - a 75 foot waterfall offering a beautiful view of the river.
  • Mountain Waters Scenic Byway - this beautiful drive takes you through two river gorges, hardwood forests and the beautiful countryside.
  • Rufus Morgan Trail - located in the Wayah Ranger District, this one mile loop takes you to a cove forest.
  • Van Hook Glade - a campground located in the Cullasaja Gorge.

Have you made your way to Nantahala National Forest? I would love to hear your recommendations for my next visit!

Blue Ridge Parkway | Travel (30/556)

Blue Ridge Parkway | Travel (30/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) The Blue Ridge Parkway is a magical, scenic road. The road travels 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina.

Favorite Stops
  • Crabtree Falls - mile post 339
  • Falling Water Cascades - mile post 83
  • Graveyard Falls - mile post 419
  • Humpback Rocks - mile post 6
  • Linville Falls - mile post 360
  • Mt. Pisgah - between mile post 407 and 408
  • Otter Lake - mile post 63
  • Rocky Knob - mile post 168

Clearly I enjoy waterfalls :) One day I'd like to drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, from top to bottom, camping along the way. Maybe in 2016 before I move west.

Blue Ridge Parkway | Travel (30/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s)


Visitor Centers Virginia Hiking Trails North Carolina Hiking Trails

What are some of your favorite stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Pisgah National Forest | Travel (29/556)

Pisgah National Forest | Travel (29/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) Pisgah National Forest, in North Carolina, is quite spectacular. Trees, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, numerous scenic byways and hundreds of miles of trails. So much goodness to explore!

Pisgah National Forest | Travel (29/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s)

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • Blue Ridge Parkway - another national park unit, providing stunning views and great access points to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Crabtree Falls - woodland hiking trails and falls, located at milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Grandfather Mountain - a scenic drive with hiking, stunning views, a swinging bridge, zoo and fudge shop :)
  • Forest Heritage Scenic Byway - travels through the southwestern region of the national forest.
  • Linville Gorge Wilderness - an area offering multiple hikes to waterfalls of varying heights. The gorge, from above and below, is awesome.
  • Shining Rock Wilderness Area - mountains above 5,000 and 6,000 feet, the Shining Rock Ledge and Pigeon River are all highlights in this area.

Have you been to Pisgah National Forest? If so, what are your favorite areas to explore?

Cherokee National Forest | Travel (28/556)

Cherokee National Forest | Travel (28/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) While heading south, I made my first official visit to Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. There's so much lake, river and mountain goodness to explore!

Recommended Hikes and Destinations
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail - there's over 150 miles of the AT through the national forest. Quick hikes include Trail #1 on Roan Mountain and a 1/2 mile section located at TN-91 and Cross Mountain Road, offering views of Shady Valley.
  • Indian Boundary Lake - Trail #129; a 3.1 mile loop.
  • Iron Mountain Zone - rugged mountain region with plenty of solitude. The Osborne Farm is also a great destination.
  • Rhododendron Trail #332 - a 1.6 mile, one way, hike along the Oconee River.
  • Watauga Point Recreation Area - a beautiful park setting with ample picnic tables for a quick or extended stop.

With over 600 miles of trails available, there are ample options for day hiking within the national forest. Click here for additional information.

Have you made your way to Cherokee National Forest? I would love to hear about your favorite hiking trails and seasons for traveling to the area!

Winter Begins | Photograph Story

Winter Begins | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Sometimes winter sneaks up on us. One day the flowers are still in bloom, leaves are turning, temperatures are lovely and then BOOM!

Cold front.

For four relentless months.

Winter just surprised me here in Maryland. I was truly hoping for a few more weeks of fall before the temperatures dipped into the teens and the first snowflakes fell.

A similar scenario found me in North Carolina a few years back. Granted, it was a mild winter with little to no snow, but the flowers and I certainly felt the change!

While out capturing photographs on an evening walk, I noticed a nearby hydrangea bush that looked exquisite in the golden hour light. Even though the colorful flowers and green goodness were long gone, the winterized version was still quite beautiful.

This little moment excited me about winter. I was planning to hang up my camera more often than usual, since most everything was expiring. My perspective of winter and the hidden beauties that may be found outdoors, even without the pretty white stuff, was forever changed.

Consider me excited for winter! I have all the appropriate layers sitting beside my camera bag, ready to go :)

Fall Elk Field | Photograph Story

Fall Elk Field | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Fall. Elk. National Park. My kind of day :)

While visiting dear friends in the Asheville area, they surprised me with a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I suppose my MILD obsession with the parks is far from a secret.

We spent the day hiking and exploring the Cataloochee area. Driving and walking through the elk preserve was amazing. I love being close to wildlife, especially in a fall setting.

On our way out of the park, we noticed a few young bulls grazing in a field. I hopped out of the car and walked a few feet into the tall grass. I ended up flat on my stomach, peeking through golden strands to capture this photograph. My elbows on the ground helped stabilize my camera as I zoomed all the way out with my 28-300mm lens.

A day exploring a national park with some of my favorite people, ending with a moment like this, is about as good as it gets for me :)