Skip to main content

Western NC Vacation - Day 3 - Blue Ridge Parkway

The final part of our Western North Carolina weekend took us on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to Boone.  This stretch of Parkway is about 100 miles in length, but it took us over eight hours to travel.  Why?  Well keep reading and find out!

For the entire flickr set (55 photos), head here.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known throughout the world for its incredible views and our first photo stop at the Lane Pinnacle overlook is no exception.

IMG_6521

Stops like these wasn't what took the most time on this trip - it was three hiking stops we made this brilliant Sunday.  The first of such was at Craggy Gardens.  The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is a 0.7 mile trail to the top of Craggy Pinnacle.  And once you reach the top, the views are breathtaking.

IMG_6529

In the photo below, the road you see off in the distance is Interstate 26 near the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line.

IMG_6534

So with the return hike, our total was 1.4 miles for the day so far.

From Craggy Gardens, it is a short drive to Mount Mitchell State Park.  Mount Mitchell at an elevation of 6684' is the highest point east of the Mississippi.  Access to Mt. Mitchell is limited to following the Blue Ridge Parkway to NC 128 and following the slightly twisty road to the summit - as seen in the photo below.

The road to Mt. Mitchell

But taking the Escape to the top of the mountain takes a little bit out of the adventure.  So after lunch at the park restaurant, Maggie and I hiked to the summit along the Old Mitchell Trail.

IMG_6542

The 1.3 mile hike from the restaurant to the summit takes about one hour.  The first 0.8 miles of the hike is strenuous and moderately technical.  The last half mile of the trail is part of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  The hike is steep but not nearly as technical.  The Old Mitchell Trail ends about 250 yards from the summit observation platform.  The observation platform replaced an older observation tower within the past three years.  The views are just amazing.

IMG_6560

IMG_6559

IMG_6549

We then headed back on the Old Mitchell Trail to the Escape.  The 2.6 mile round trip made it a total of four miles hiked at this point.  This was my third piece of the Mountains-To-Sea trail that I have hiked.  (I've also hiked a brief segment at Hanging Rock State Park and about 3.5 miles of the trail at Falls Lake here in Raleigh.)

We made another photo stop at the Green Knob Overlook and gassed up off the Parkway on NC 80 in the tiny community of Busick.

IMG_6563

Our final Parkway stop was at Crabtree Meadows and a hike down to the spectacular Crabtree Falls The hike down to the falls from Crabtree Meadows is 0.9 miles one way.  It's all downhill to the falls and a rather steep at times return - but upon your first glimpse of the 70' falls, it's well worth it.

Peeking Sunlight at Crabtree Falls

The 1.8 mile down and back hike gave us 5.8 miles for the day.  (In case you haven't figured it our by now, Maggie and I have started to take more to hiking in the recent months.)  By the time we were finished at Crabtree Meadows it was after five, and although we wanted to make a stop at Linville Falls, that would have to wait for our next trip to the mountains.  We followed the Parkway to US 321 just outside of Blowing Rock, grabbed a quick dinner, hit US 421 and followed that to I-40 home.

It was a great three day weekend in the Western North Carolina mountains and we're already taking notes on what to do on our next trip that way in the not to distant future.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Relief Route That Wasn't: The Never Built I-70 Bypass in the Mid-Mon Valley

In June 1963, a small blurb in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette read that The Westmoreland Engineering Company was awarded a $24,060 bid to study the proposed construction of Interstate 70 in Westmoreland and Washington Counties.  The study was to see what the construction and right-of-way costs "...to modernize the existing highway to Interstate requirements within eight months." (1)  This small, non-attributed, three paragraph article came less than a decade after the completion of a four lane highway that linked the Mid-Mon Valley to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This would be the start of a 15 year process to upgrade and improve Interstate 70 - a process that ultimately never produced a single foot of new highway.

This is the story, albeit brief, of the I-70 that never came about.

Background:
What is now known as Interstate70 from Washington to New Stanton began as a connecting highway for the region to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Known as the "Express Highway", construct…

Independence Boulevard - Charlotte's First Urban Highway

Today, the major pieces of Charlotte's highway network include the Outerbelt (I-485), Interstates 77 and 85, and the Brookshire and Belk Freeways (I-277), but nearly sixty years ago Charlotte's first major urban highway project would begin.  The construction of Independence Boulevard in the 1940s and early 1950s would give Charlotte and North Carolina its first urban expressway, and would usher in a new era of highway building throughout the state.
With the help of former mayor, Ben Douglas - who sat on the State Highway Commission in the 1940s - the push for building Independence Blvd. began.  In 1946, city residents passed a $200,000 bond issue that would go along with over $2 million in federal funding.  The highway would open in two stages in 1949 and 1950.  When a grade separated interchange was built at South Blvd. and Morehead St. in the mid 1950s, Independence Blvd. was completed. (1)  Although the highway was not a fully controlled access highway, it gave motorists an …

The Bigelow Blvd. / Crosstown Expressway (Interstate 579) Ghost Ramp Mystery Explained

For nearly five decades, many Pittbsurgh-area motorists, when leaving the old Civic Arena or exiting off the Crosstown Expressway onto Bigelow Boulevard, have wondered what exactly the ghost ramp in the above photo was for.  Where was it to have come from?  When and why did they stop?  Will it ever be built?
The original plans for the Crosstown Expressway included a full interchange with Bigelow Boulevard.  However, these plans never came to fruition.  The only ramps that were built were from I-579 North onto to the Bigelow and from Bigelow Boulevard/PA 380 West to I-579 South.  The above ramp was to have come from I-579 South, and depending on what older map of Pittsburgh you have over or under the existing roadway, and on to Bigelow/PA 380 East.  It never came to be, and the HOV ramp to what was once the Civic Arena has basically eliminated the need for completing this interchange.


The two photos above show the retaining wall with the ghost ramp and how it would have connected onto…