Follow the signs for State Route 857 and turn left onto the highway from the Cheat Lake exit on I-68. Then take the first left onto Morgans Run Road. Take cautious because the road is small. Morgans Run Road comes to an end at the main parking area of the Cheat Lake Trail. The trailhead is across the street from the main parking area.
Cheat Lake is a man-made lake that lies within Mount Mitchell State Park in Transylvania County, North Carolina. The lake was formed when Cheat Lake Dam was built in 1958 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the larger Tellico Dam project. The dam regulates water flow into the Little Tennessee River Basin while creating a large reservoir for flood control and recreational opportunities.
A network of paved trails extends around the perimeter of the lake and provides hiking opportunities. The main trail follows the path of an old railroad bed that was once used to transport timber from nearby forests to marketplaces along the east coast. Today, hikers can enjoy the views of mountain laurels, tulip trees, and other native plants that grow along the route. Amenities such as picnic tables and barbecue grills are available at several locations along the trail. There is also a small campground with 50 sites that can be reserved online or by calling 877-444-6777.
The Appalachian Trail passes through the southern portion of Mount Mitchell State Park.
Begin your journey in the lowest parking lot closest to the lake. Begin going clockwise around the lake by turning left. Before reaching a bifurcation, the route briefly enters a woodland. Continue down the little incline towards the lake and onto a wooden boardwalk that traverses a marsh region. The path then turns right and follows the shoreline of the lake back to the main trail.
Upon returning to the main road, turn left and follow this road for about 0.1 miles until you reach a four-way intersection. Turn left at this intersection and follow this road for 1.5 miles until you reach another four-way intersection. Turn left at this intersection and follow this road for 2.3 miles until you reach yet another four-way intersection. Turn left at this intersection and follow this road for 0.2 miles until you reach Rolley Lake Campground on your left.
To reach the highest parking lot, walk up the hill past the campground entrance station and take the first right into the woods. Follow this road for about 0.5 miles until you reach the lake.
To get to Apollo Beach, travel I-95 to exit 249, then east until it becomes A1A. South on A1A until you reach the park's entrance. Take I-95 to exit 220 to go to Playalinda Beach. Go east on Garden Street into Titusville, then continue east and follow the signs.
The trip from I-95 N to I-95 S takes about 30 minutes. Driving time is also about 30 minutes.
There is no charge to enter the park but donations are accepted for the Playalinda Beach Restoration Fund. There are parking spaces near the entry gate and along most of the beach. However, there is not much space left in these spots so arrive early if you want to find a spot.
Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The entrance is closed for maintenance work occasionally so check ahead before heading out here.
If you get stuck waiting for the entrance to open or close, there are picnic tables and grills available for use. Be sure to bring your own tablecloth and food because there are no facilities at the beach itself.
Playalinda Beach is a family-friendly beach with amenities such as lifeguards, restrooms, water toys, and food trucks. The beach is part of the Canaveral National Seashore which is managed by the National Park Service.
Take Highway 63 south from Jefferson City into Rolla, then turn left onto Highway 72 and go approximately 8 miles. At County Road 5285, make a right. County Route 5285 is a small "horseshoe" road that leads back to Highway 72. This horseshoe marks the entrance to Fugitive Beach. There is no official entry point, but it's usually easy to find if you know what you're looking for.
The beach is located in Franklin County between Rolla and Camdenton. If you reach Highway 72, you've gone too far. The beach is located on private property with no public access except through special arrangement with the owner.
There are no facilities at the beach, nor can there be since it's on private land. However, there is a parking lot near the entrance to the trail that will let you see people coming and going. Be careful not to leave any valuables in your car while you're here; this is private property where anyone could break in and steal your stuff.
You can reach Fugitive Beach by taking Highway 63 north from Jefferson City into Rolla, then turning left onto Highway 72 and going about 8 miles. Look for the sign on the left side of the highway marking the entrance to the beach.