Spring Break in the Blue Ridge Mountains III

In Sina's Posts, Tamás' Posts, Trips on April 13, 2012 by SN

On Wednesday, we explored the Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches over 470 miles (755 km) from Virginia to North Carolina. It might sound big and massive, but the parkway is a small road with many winding curves and stunning scenic overlooks where you can drive with a maximum speed of 45 mph, often slower. It is always windy up there, and portions of the road are closed during winter. When we were there, some parts were still closed for repair after the winter freeze.

Blue Ridge Parkway: Scenic Overlook Somewhere in the Great Balsam Mountains.

It is very hard to resist the overlooks. Often you take a corner, and suddenly a new fabulous view opens up. So we frequently stopped to take in the scenery. Ultimately, we spent pretty much the entire day on the parkway: roughly six hours, 50 miles, and four hikes. We did not meet many people, and exits are few and far in between. It was a great experience with a sense of solitude.

Blue Ridge Parkway: Scenic Overlooks en route.

First we hiked to the Richland Balsam Mountain, the highest mountain in the Great Balsam Range with 1,954 meters which felt much like a hike in the woods, except for a bit thinner air, with occasional stunning views.

To the Top: Richland Balsam Mountain.

Our second hike consisted in a steep 20-minute hike to the Devil’s Courthouse which offered a breath-taking panorama over Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia.

Devil's Courthouse: Overlooking TN, NC, SC, and the big GA.

We continued our hike to the Black Balsam Bald, which is a mostly treeless (hence the name) and very windy mountaintop at 1,894 meters.

The Bald and the Beautiful.

Our last hike lead us to the Graveyard Fields valley where we paused at a cold and clear waterfall.

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls.

After finishing with our hikes, we went 35 miles north through. The densely wooded region is famous for many movies such as Dirty Dancing, Forest Gump, or (more recently) The Hunger Games. Our final dinner destination Asheville fulfilled every stereotype of an alternative, liberal, and leftist city: organic food in new age stores, barefoot girls in dread locks and batik skirts on their way to yoga courses, and singer-songwriter performing 90s grunge tunes on the streets. It is a refuge, the  exception to the rule, in this generally conservative part of the country. We had dinner at the Tupelo Honey Café, organic, local food of course, which was delicious indeed.

As always, there are even more photos on Tamás’s Flickr account.


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