SUUSI Nature trips explore the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, which still are recovering from the 2016 wildfires. Your Nature staff works hard during the year to create a rich variety of trips for you. They have identified the most interesting experiences, checked them for safety, added new trips, and brought back some old favorites.
We’re in an area rich with trails for hiking and biking, wild rivers to explore by tube, raft, kayak, and canoe, and spots for climbing and caving. In addition, there are many opportunities for discovering wildlife and exploring cultural and historical sites.
We are fortunate to be close to The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, dozens of waterfalls, the ancestral home of the Cherokee Nation, and lots of smaller parks and recreation centers.
Nature trips are available at all levels of difficulty, from all-day hikes over rugged terrain to gentle walks along a paved path. As you look through this year’s catalog at the trip offerings, pay careful attention to the difficulty rating assigned to each trip and consider your level of fitness and experience before you choose a trip.
Do you have children who are interested in nature trips? Check the catalog for a list of family-friendly trips for all ages. The Intergenerational tubing trip is an annual favorite for many families. Depending on their age, Youth and Middlers may also be scheduled for nature trips as part of their age-group programming. If so, there will be no additional cost for those trips. If you plan to bring your young child on a nature trip, please be aware that North Carolina law requires children aged 8 and younger to be in a car seat or booster seat. SUUSI staff will not transport young children without a car seat.
Please take note of the Western North Carolina weather: there will be a shower or thunderstorm almost every day. Our trips go rain or shine, so make sure you pack a poncho on every trip. As a general Nature rule, being prepared by having the right equipment is very important. Please plan ahead and bring the appropriate footwear, water etc. and arrive at the Nature Tent 15 minutes before the trip departure time.
Whatever you enjoy doing, whether it is educational, exploring or seeing beautiful sights, SUUSI hopes you will find it. With Discovery you can visit historic sites and museums or relax with a visit to a craft brewery. Discovery takes you horseback riding and to see an outdoor drama. We lead short hikes to learn about flora and fauna of the region. We also aim to teach you new sports, e.g., fly fishing! We’ve identified a lot of fun spots that require little physical exertion and lots of learning and fun opportunities. Discovery keeps looking for fun with every trip we take.
There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in Western North Carolina. The trails vary in difficulty from easy trails along the banks of waterways to more difficult trails that climb to the tops of 6000- foot mountains. There are trails past waterfalls, through mixed birch/evergreen forest and alpine-like meadows. Western North Carolina also contains ecology of high valley bogs, stunted fir forests and bald knobs that are not commonly seen in the Eastern United States. Hiking this region will provide experiences you will remember for many years. We practice safe hiking with no exceptions, and always leave no trace. Enjoy making new friends and experiencing what Mother Nature and Father Time have wrought in our SUUSI neighborhood!
The mountainous areas around Cullowhee are temperate rain forest so water is available to fill numerous stream systems for rafting, kayaking, canoeing, funyaks, duckies, and tubing! Our paddling instructors are ready to teach you new skills while you anticipate the wonderful adventures that you are about to experience.
Whether you’re planning on biking, taking on a ropes course, caving, or rock climbing, new adventures await you at SUUSI this year. North Carolina has the best rock climbing in the South. We will be climbing on a rock face owned by UUs! The 180-foot cliff at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center has beautiful views and something for everyone, from the absolute beginner to experienced climbers. Western North Carolina is also home to some of the best mountain bike trails in the world. For beginners and experts alike, there are trails that will thrill and challenge you.