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…

A look at Pittsburgh's Saw Mill Run Boulevard

Saw Mill Run Boulevard - Pennsylvania State Route 51 - runs through the narrow Saw Mill Run Valley.  It begins at the intersection of Clairton Road and Provost Road at the City of Pittsburgh Line with Brentwood.  It ends at the West End Circle at the entrance to the West End Bridge.  A four lane highway for its the entire length, Saw Mill Run Boulevard consists of interchanges at the South Portal of the Liberty Tubes and with the Parkway West.  It is an expressway from the Parkway to the West End Circle (West End Bypass).  One of the most well known traffic tie-ups in the Pittsburgh area occurs between Maytide Street and PA 88 (Library Road) which is simply known as 'Maytide and 88.'

History:
Saw Mill Run Boulevard was part of the 1928 Allegheny County 'City Beautiful' bond issue.  The bonds resulted in the creation of Saw Mill Run, Ohio River, Allegheny River and Mosside Boulevards. (1)   After the completion of the Liberty Tunnels in 1924, Downtown Pittsburgh was offic…

The Many Failed Plans of Pittsburgh's Wabash Bridge and Tunnel

The December 27, 2004 opening of the Wabash Tunnel ended over 70 years of proposals and speculation for the use of the over 100 year old facility.  The tunnel, which is now a reversible roadway that is an alternative route for rush hour traffic, saw many failed plans during the 20th Century.  These plans included options for mass transit, converted and new bridges for vehicles, and other forms of transportation.

Brief History:
Constructed in 1902-04, the Wabash Bridge and Tunnel was planned and financed by rail mogul, Jay Gould.  Gould began his "Battle of the Wabash" with the established railroads of the city in 1890.  He would finally emerge victorious, but during that struggle, Gould would see many setbacks that would eventually result in the railroad's bankruptcy in 1908.  On October 19, 1903, when the two ends of the bridge were to be joined together over the Monongahela River, the 109' bridge collapsed; killing ten men.  Construction would resume four days later …