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

California State Route 152

Circumstance had me out in the Monterey Peninsula again this week.  Generally I try to take a route like California State Route 198 or ever County Route J1 to get across the Diablo Range but time had me in a slight bind.  That being the case I took the popular way across the Diablos on California State Route 152 via Pacheco Pass.  152 is one of infamy given it is really the primary route for truckers to get from I-5 west in San Joaquin Valley to US 101 in Salinas Valley.  After zig-zagging some accidents on/off California State Route 99 near Madera in the rural outskirts of the County bearing the same name I began my westbound trek on 152.




CA 152 is called the William Whitehurst Highway, at least it is west from CA 99.  The entire route of CA 152 in San Joaquin is an expressway aside from a small portion in the city of Los Banos.



The first junction on CA 152 is with CA 233 which is a small 4 mile highway that travels northeast to CA 99.






Next westbound CA 152 encounters the junction w…

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 was unknown (at least to…

The National Road - Ohio - Muskingum and Licking Counties

As it travels from Zanesville towards Columbus, US 40 goes through numerous small towns, changes from two to four lanes and back numerous times, but most importantly the old road keeps its rural charm.  Between Zanesville and Gratiot, there are four former alignments of the old road that can be found: just west of Zanesville, Mt. Sterling, Hopewell and Gratiot.  Most stretches are very short and can be easily recognized with names as "Old US 40", "Old National Road" or some combination of the two.

Zanesville:
Just west of US 40's interchange with Interstate 70 (Exit 152) runs an old alignment.

Mt. Sterling:
Another old alignment goes through this small Muskingum County village.
Hopewell:
Today, US 40 passes south of the community of Hopewell.  The old two lane road is known as Hopewell National Road.
Gratiot:
Old US 40 is known as Main Street in this tiny village of 200 or so residents.  The old highway at times seems forgotten through here.
Just west of Gratiot, US 40 …