Skip to main content

Weekend Trip to Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain

We took a weekend to the mountains...staying overnight in Blowing Rock and then spending the day exploring the area.

For the entire photo set on flickr...go here.

What started out as a gorgeous day in Raleigh turned into a foggy, rainy, and later stormy evening in the Mountains. The rain started just west of North Wilkesboro, the fog really kicked in on the ascent up the Blue Ridge to Deep Gap and stuck around the rest of the day. Oddly, the fog lifted as the night went on.

We made a quick stop in Burlington and went through downtown Graham. There's quite a few older wall advertisements and billboards in town. It's certainly worth a return visit for more photos.



Sunday Morning we spent sometime along the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading to the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis.

Our first Parkway Overlook was at the Thunder Hill Overlook just north and east of Blowing Rock.
They don't call it the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing.

Across from the overlook is a brief trail (shown above) that goes past a small family cemetery (shown below).

Although it was overcast and chilly, there were still some great views like above.

It was then on to the Mast General Store on NC 194 in Valle Crucis. It's a must stop. Just South/West? of the Mast General Store is the Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal Church. It's a gorgeous stone building and is worth a few minutes of exploring.


In the valley below the Church of the Holy Cross, NC 194 crosses Craborehard Creek, and after the rains from the day and night before, the creek had some soothing small waterfalls.


From there is was over to Granfather Mountain. We took Broadstone Road (SR 1121) from Valle Crucis to NC 105. Be sure to stop at The Ham Shoppe for a bite to eat. The sandwiches are delicious and the folks that run the place are very hospitable.

Grandfather Mountain is located off of US 221 about a mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway and two miles north of NC 105. Admission is $14/per person, with AAA it's $12. There's plenty to do at the park. There's a wildlife habitat (more on that later), numerous hiking and nature trails, and of course the mile high swinging (suspension bridge).

The wildlife habitat includes, otter, brown and black bear, deer, cougars, and bald eagles.



I love this shot of the raven.


Of course, the highlight of Grandfather Mountain is the Mile High Swing Bridge. Opened in 1952, the 252 foot suspension bridge over an 80 foot chasm can make for an interesting experience. Especially when the wind is quite gusty.

After Grandfather Mountain, it was back on the Parkway to Blowing Rock before heading home. A number of spots on the Parkway afford great views of Grandfather Mountain, and the unique weather that goes along with it.

Before leaving the Parkway, we stopped at Price Lake and headed around the Price Lake Loop Trail that is about 2.3 miles long. It's a nice hike and easy to follow, even though it's not marked. At the far end of the lake, it is rather swampy, but only a minor inconvenience. Price Lake is popular with anglers and kayakers and is quite a restful spot overall.


There is one sad part about the Parkway. In the Grandfather to Blowing Rock Area, there was quite a few cases of vandalism. Almost all overlook signs were missing (only the sign posts were standing) and there was a few overlooks that were unfortunately well littered. It's a shame that carelessness was so wide spread on that section of the very scenic highway.

But overall a great trip, we took over 200 photos and got to explore more of North Carolina's mountains.

Comments

Jane said…
Hi Adam,
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Blowing Rock to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Jane

Popular posts from this blog

Goodbye Interstate 495; Hello Interstate 87

It seems like yesterday when I blogged about new Future Interstate 495 signs that were going to be installed along US 64 along the Knightdale Bypass and along the way to Rocky Mount.  Well after just three years, Interstate 495 is officially no more.  This week NCDOT crews began to install Interstate 87 shields along the Raleigh Beltline and Knightdale Bypass from Southeast Raleigh to Rolesville Road in Wendell.  The new interstate designation follows Interstate 440 west from I-40 near Garner leaving the Beltline at the Knightdale Bypass and following US 64/264 about another 12 or so miles until the six lane portion of the Knightdale Bypass ends just beyond Business US 64.

Eventually, Interstate 87 will continue east along US 64 past Zebulon, Rocky Mount and Tarboro to Williamston where it will head north and northeast along US 17 into Virginia and Norfolk.  The new signs reflect the first official section of Interstate 87 in North Carolina - as the Knightdale Bypass meets national I…

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville. 

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What is unknown (at least to…

Hunting for forgotten history; Old US 99 in Fresno

Coming back from my Great Lakes Trip the other day I encountered this sign goof at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport which incorrectly displays US Route 99.





That little US 99 sign was the inspiration I needed to start tracking all the former alignments through the City of Fresno.  Fresno in general has had a huge shift in highway layouts over the decades which is something I intend to finish with California 41 and 180 perhaps later this month.  Based off my research I came with the following three maps progressing northward through Fresno showing every iteration of US 99 before it was downgraded to a State Highway in 1967.




Essentially the route alignment history of US Route 99 in Fresno is as follows.

1926-1930 Alignment 

Progressing northward into Fresno US Route 99 would have followed:

Railroad Avenue
-  Cherry Avenue
-  Broadway Street
-  Divisadero Street
-  H Street
-  Belmont Avenue
-  Golden State Avenue

1930-1934 Realignment off of Railroad Avenue

Sometime between 1930 to …