Shane Kistel is a professional Pharmaceutical and Medical Sales Representative in North Carolina who has always held a strong passion for outdoor recreation.
Below, he shares with readers some of his favorite and best all-around backpacking trails in his state.
As an experienced medical sales representative and a licensed life and health insurance professional, Shane Kistel spends much of his time inside medical offices and hospitals. He works within many inpatient and institutional settings, drawing from 8 plus years of individual and business insurance sales in Virginia and North Carolina.
In his free time, however, Shane Kistel partakes in a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, backpacking, bicycling and more.
“I’ve enjoyed the outdoors since I was a kid and spent most of my childhood in water-rich and rural environments where there weren’t a lot of other options for entertainment,” says Shane Kistel. “That passion has stayed with me throughout my adult life and has turned into a handful of regular hobbies.”
Shane Kistel was born in Florida and later relocated to northern California and Virginia. He currently resides in North Carolina with his family and splits time in southern Utah as much as possible. He was raised in an active outdoor recreational environment and encouraging him to pursue activities like rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping, and kayaking across pristine backcountry. This nurtured in him an enduring love for wild country and provided the foundation for his extensive experience as a naturalist, interpretive wildlife specialist, and part-time backcountry wilderness guide.
“Of all the trails to backpack in North Carolina, a few have always stuck out to me for their beautiful scenery and their unique wildlife,” says Shane Kistel.
He mentions that Mount Le Conte Loop in Bryson City, NC is one of his favorite trails to hike. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail is a 16-mile loop that is dotted with clear rivers and waterfalls. Camping is allowed at designated camping spots along the trail, and guests are free to climb their way to the peak elevation of 6,593 feet.
Lemon Gap to Max Patch of Pisgah National Forest is just over ten miles long, but it proves to be a worthy challenge to novice and seasoned backpackers alike. Along the trail, backpackers will get glimpses of Max Patch and incredible scenery atop grassy hilltops. Many backpackers choose to make this an overnight journey as the terrain can be extremely tiring, albeit rewarding with all the mountain ranges to view nearby.
Often, Shane Kistel likes to partake in the difficult expert trail of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Deep Creek to Clingmans Dome path. This 50-mile round trip loop is a days-long adventure serving as the quintessential Great Smoky Mountains backpacking excursion. The trail hits all the highlights NC has to offer, with numerous waterfalls, panoramic views of the Smokies, historical landmarks, and seasonal wildflowers along the way.
“Our state has some of the best hiking trails in the entire country,” says Shane Kistel, “and provides something for everyone, with beginner, single-day trails all the way to week-long hikes.”