Planning a Mountain Goat outing? Some good resources:
* CAROLINA MOUNTAIN CLUB. The CMC Web site, www.carolinamtnclub.com, is a must-bookmark for the serious Mountain Goat. Among the site's various resources is a hike database that lets you search out hikes by a variety of criteria, from location and length to degree of difficulty. Covers all of Western North Carolina
* MOUNT MITCHELL STATE PARK. OK, so the thought of being a Mountain Goat holds more appeal than the actual practice. You can have a goatlike experience within the safe confines of Mount Mitchell State Park. There really is a gift shop (and a snack bar and a restaurant) at the top, and it's a short walk to the summit observation tower. If you're a little more adventurous, take a relatively tame mile-long hike out the Black Mountain Crest Trail to Big Tom. (828) 675-4611, http://ils.unc.edu/parkproject, click on "Visit a Park" and Mount Mitchell.
* TOE RIVER TRAIL MAP. An invaluable map for the Black Mountains is the U.S. Forest Service's compact "South Toe River Trail Map," which tucks nicely into a cargo pant pocket. It covers about 90 miles of trail, with helpful trail descriptions available for seven hikes. Trail information for the Black Mountains is also available from the U.S. Forest Service's Toecane Ranger Station in Burnsville. (828) 682-6146.
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* "MOUNT MITCHELL & THE BLACK MOUNTAINS," by Timothy Silver (UNC Press). Provides an environmental history of the area.
* "A HISTORY OF MT. MITCHELL AND THE BLACK MOUNTAINS," by S. Kent Schwarzkopf (N.C. Division of Archives and History). Covers more of the human history of the region.