For anyone who loves the outdoors, North Carolina's abundance of public land is almost an embarrassment of riches.
Consider: This state is home to four national forests , covering a total of 2,954,000 acres. We also have the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores, sporting 126 miles of pristine beaches. We share with Tennessee the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, our share being 275,895 acres, or about 53 percent of the park. We have ten national wildlife refuges covering...???
We have 35 state parks, recreation areas, and natural areas totaling 116,890 acres. (On second thought, we could use some more state park acreage.) Add to this the parkland owned by various local governments and tracts owned by private land trusts.
North Carolina's abundance of public land is matched by these lands diversity. The state has three major geographic zones - mountains, piedmont, and coastal plain. Each of these geographic zones supports several different ecological zones, or biomes.
For example, in the piedmont the floodplains of protected streams usually support large stands of bottomland hardwood forests. Look for trees and shrubs such as river birch, sycamore, alder, and spicebush. Nearby, the south facing slope or the ridgetop above the stream is a much drier ecosystem. This xeric forest, as it is called by ecologists, is typically dominated by chestnut oaks, sourwoods, and mockernut hickories.
In the mountains, this transition from floodplain to ridge top is much more dramatic. For example, start Hiking amid the hemlocks, hardwoods, and rhododendron at the S. Toe River at Black Mountain Campground. Follow the Mt. Mitchell Trail and switchback up the south face of the mountain through an oak - hickory forest (below 4500'), then ascend into a northern deciduous forest of birches and other high altitude hardwoods (4500' - 5500'), and finally enter the spruce and fir zone just after the trail passes the remnants of an old logging camp from the 1920s named Camp Alice. In less than 6 miles, you have traversed the equivalent of 1000 miles of geographic latitude. Atop Mt. Mitchell, you are walking in a Canadian ecosystem. (Well, with all the dead and dying trees , its not a healthy ecosystem, but that's another story.)
Bottom line: A hiker or backpacker should never get bored in North Carolina.