entering the Blue Ridge Parkway from Boone

entering the Blue Ridge Parkway from Boone

We’ve been to the mountains! Yaay! We’ve been driving on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway last weekend and had a good time hiking some short trails around there. This road is one of the famous american by-roads, just like the Route66. Took us half a day to get there, and driving on the highway was quite boring. Once we got there, the whole perspective changed: from the boring traffic we switched to this really nice road, shaded by trees and waving around the hilltops. We entered the scenic road after a short trip to Boone, which was unexpectedly crowded and touristic. As soon as we got there we wanted to stop and take pictures with every single outlook that came our way. Soon enough we realized there are way too many outlooks with no scenery and nothing to do, so we started driving past some of them.

We chose to enter the road in Boone and not drive all the way to Virginia and start there, so we only drive on the highest part of the road. The goal of the day was to reach the Linn Cove Viaduct (the most famous part of the road, which was built to preserve the diversity of the place) before the sunset. We got there after circling around a few times, as the path to the overlook starts past the road, and goes back and under it. Also, the path takes about 15 minutes so we ended up rushing a bit for the last sun rays.

And since there was a nice parking place with toilets and drinking water, we decided to spend the night there. The weather was nice and I wanted to sleep in the back of the truck to gaze at the stars till I fall asleep. The sky was so clear and the stars so many that falling asleep was not a problem. I had to wake up a couple of hours later and move in the car because the wind started blowing harder, pushing the heat away from my summer sleeping bag. The next day we enjoyed cruising the road at slow speeds, taking advantage of every overlook with a nice view, and stopping here and there to see what’s there to visit. Obviously skipped the high priced Grandfather mountain – $27/pers. (with discount) for taking the trail to the top, where a hanging bridge connects two peaks.

Our first stop was the Linville Falls, a series of waterfalls and a very popular place as we’ve seen. We walked around the waterfalls going on a trail to check out some nice overlooks. We kept going higher and higher through the woods, and the sun was not that bright making the walk quite pleasant. But as we reached the furthest point on the Erwins View Trail, the sky broke into a heavy rain, rendering useless any effort to take cover. By the time we got down, the sky was back up and we were partially dry.

We continued along the winding road, watching old classy cars passing by, as well as modern shiny sport cars revving in the first gear or the omnipresent bikers on their choppers, either alone or in pairs, or even 4-5 at a time, listening to music on their huge bad-ass Harleys. We stopped by Little Switzerland, hiked to Crabtree Falls (and meadows) and on Craggy Gardens path (only Lucy took the trail, I picked her up on the other side), drove to Mt. Mitchell, and we ended the day hiking up on Mt. Pisgah (say it out loud :D) and watching the sunset with a bunch of parkour kids climbing the metal tower next to us. I was surprised to be able to drive pretty close to the top of Mt. Mitchell, where a huge free parking lot was at our disposal. Apparently the top was not so welcoming as a lot of tick-looking creatures (weevils) were swarming around and landing on the brightest t-shirts. The parking place of Mt. Pisgah was a good and quiet place to sleep, and we were not the only ones staying over the night there. Unfortunately, my plan to sleep in the truck’s flatbed was hindered again by a midnight shower which wet my sleeping bag and woke me up.

The last day we’ve saved for the way back, but we’re not over yet. Before reaching the end of the Pkway and the town of Cherokee, we had to go through its highest part (6053ft or 1845m), check the Waterrock Knob and hike to a small but really nice waterfall on the Graveyard Fields Loop. And we can’t start the day without food, but finding food on a road like this is quite challenging. So here we are, leaving the Pkway for the breakfast and following a very tight winding road to the city of Waynesville (and the surrounding settlements, as we got lost looking for a grocery store).

We had a really nice weather and a good time on this road. A thunderstorm caught us on the way back, but we were driving (thanks again to John for letting us use the truck). It only got a little water inside because the door doesn’t close, but at least you could tell the rain was cold. It is indeed a romantic road to take and one could spend a week or two taking all the paths and discovering the treasures on these mountains.

However, I think we discovered the best things in NC so far and it’s probably time to move on!

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