Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina ~ Day 1

So after spending the day at Camping World yesterday, we were ready to get on the trails in the Blue Ridge Parkway, so off we went to find some good hiking spots. After stopping at the Visitor’s Center in Asheville, we were on our way ~ first stop, the Cradle of Forestry Center

The Cradle of Forestry Center ($5 per person) was the brainchild of George Vanderbilt in 1891 on 125,000 acres of forest he owned. There are two short trails – the Biltmore Campus Trail has the original buildings, such as the school house and ranger station used by the first settlers in this land.  The Forest Festival Trail has more information about the forestry at the time, along with the portable sawmill and logging train. For us, we were bored and disappointed – this is probably more interesting for families with young children. So off to something more our style ~ a hike.
As we meandered The Parkway, we passed many beautiful vistas, such as Looking Glass Rock.

Our first planned hike was Graveyard Fields where we took a 2.5 mile moderate hike to a couple waterfalls. It really felt good to be back in our hiking boots. We passed a couple of people fishing along the trail and came upon the first waterfall. 
This was a quick walk and there were a few people enjoying the falls.

We passed many wildflowers in blooms and took a much longer, moderately strenuous hike to the second falls.

Zoey was definitely enjoying the hike as well and liked drinking from each stream we passed. The hike back was part return-trip and part loop – a great first hike in too long of a time!


We continued south along the Parkway, enjoying the views and tunnels, and came to our second hike ~ Devil’s Courthouse.
This is a strenuous,  one-mile round-trip hike to the top, which offers panoramic views of South Carolina, Tennessee and more.


We didn’t realize how high we actually climbed until we got to the top and saw how far the truck was from where we stood.

We then continued our drive past the highest point on The Parkway.
A great day! (Certainly much better than spending it at Camping World and much less expensive!) We’re looking forward to more hiking in this area if the weather is good (heavy rains are expected the next few days).
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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