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Posts Tagged ‘Asheville hiking’

Beat the Summertime Heat in the Mountains of Western North Carolina

June 20th, 2015 by abedofroses

Picnic at Craggy Gardens

Picnic at Craggy Gardens

Summertime in Asheville offers so many ways to enjoy your stay, from Summer Festivals and concerts to Shakespeare under the stars. It also has some wonderful ways to beat the heat! Slip down the chilly mountain waters of Sliding Rock, go whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River or take a picnic to Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway, like we did the other day. A short and scenic drive took us from 89 degrees to 72 degrees with a refreshing breeze. The main picnic area has rolling hills and stone picnic tables, with the mountains just over the trees. But a short hike up the Craggy Pinnacle trail takes you to much more dramatic views.

Mountains for as far as you can see

Mountains for as far as you can see

There you will be treated to a 360 degree view of mountain peaks that seem to go on forever. The visitors center, just past the main picnic area, right on the Blue Ridge Parkway has a panoramic view as well, with the peaks you are looking at labeled on an open guide book just below the window, which I just loved.

Asheville’s elevation is about 2,200 feet but we are surrounded by the mountains of the Blue Ridge as well as the Black Mountain Range. An hour north of Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway is Mount Mitchell. At 6,600 feet above sea level it is the highest point east of the Mississippi and can easily be 20 degrees cooler that downtown Asheville. An hour to the south of us is Mount Pisgah at 5,721 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

The waterfalls of Dupont State Forest are just 40 miles from downtown Asheville. Four entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are within 60 miles from downtown Asheville. We are surrounded by incredible natural beauty and refreshing mountain streams. At the end of the day you can explore our vibrant restaurant/music and theater scene rejuvenated. But save room for our gourmet breakfast in the morning!

The Best Waterfalls at DuPont State Forest

September 9th, 2013 by abedofroses

High Falls at DuPont State Forest

High Falls at DuPont State Forest

Right now is the perfect time to tour the waterfalls of Western North Carolina. This summer’s wet weather has cleared so we’re having sunny warm days and cool nights, yet the water levels are still high enough to give us a great show cascading over the rocks. And everything is lush and green! Labor Day is over so the crowds have thinned as well. DuPont State Forest, usually very popular, was not very busy at all the other day and offers the most spectacular waterfalls just a short hike from the parking areas. Scenes from The Hunger Games were filmed here and several of the waterfalls were featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans. You’ll see what attracts film-makers to this beautiful place!

New Pedestrian Bridge over the Little River

New Pedestrian Bridge over the Little River

The park has made several improvements this year. The High Falls Access Area is now home to the new Aleen Steinberg Visitors Center and new restroom facilities. A pretty new Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Little River now leads from the expanded Hooker Falls Parking area to the Hooker Falls and Triple Falls trails.

Main access is at the High Falls Access Area but if you park at the Hooker Falls lot you can take an easy hike that includes three waterfalls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. Hooker Falls is only 15 feet high but pretty and is a short walk from the parking area.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls

Returning to the pedestrian bridge you can then hike about a half mile to Triple Falls for much more spectacular views. There are some great vantage points from the trail and from the picnic area above but you can also walk down the steps to the base of the middle falls. I think I counted 111 steps but it’s well worth it and the folks at Western Piedmont Community College, who build the steps along with DuPont Staff, mercifully built in benches along the way to rest on your way back up!

The full view of High Falls

The full view of High Falls

The trail continues to High Falls which is 150 feet high and almost as wide. This section of the trail is fairly level and it surprised me to see how calm the Little River is between these two large waterfalls. By the time you can hear the falls you’re almost there. There are good views from the trail and beyond the overlook is a set of stairs and an uphill path to another picnic shelter with views.

If you have more energy than we did that day, or if you access High Falls from the High Falls Access area and it’s new trail connector you can continue to the covered bridge above High Falls with a view of the water spilling over the falls. At the other side of the bridge is the way to Grassy Creek Falls via Buck Forest Road and the Lake Imaging trail. Lake Denise is beyond that with crystal clear waters and swimming allowed.

Bridal Veil Falls from the back on ncwaterfalls.com

Bridal Veil Falls from the back on ncwaterfalls.com

We didn’t make it to Bridal Veil Falls but it’s one of the few waterfalls that you can walk underneath and view from behind the water! The Last of the Mohicans showed the falls from this perspective. Bridal Veil Falls is the first of the waterfalls on the Little River.

The DuPont State Forest is a short drive from Asheville occupying over 10,000 gorgeous acres between Brevard and Hendersonville. For more information go to their website http://www.dupontforest.com. Don’t miss information on the Tour De Falls coming up October 12th and 13th.

For more photos of Waterfalls in the Asheville area go to our Photo Gallery!

 

 

A Section of Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville Closed Due to a Large Crack. Parkway South from Asheville to Cherokee Still Open.

July 19th, 2013 by abedofroses

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville

On July 12th a Park Ranger made a stunning discovery. A large crack, 150 feet long, 4 inches wide and in some places 6 feet deep had developed right down the center line of the The Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Asheville. Since that time the crack has grown to 200 feet long and 8 inches wide forcing the closure of a 20 mile stretch of the scenic highway to cars. Apparently the ground below the crack has been saturated with the heavy rains that have left our area lush and green this summer. Cars traveling from Asheville to Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak in the eastern US, are being detoured to I40 and US221 through Spruce Pine. Cyclists and hikers can still access the road, at least until repairs begin. July and October are the busiest months of the year for visitors to the Asheville area and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Luckily there is still access to all areas of the Parkway from Asheville south to Cherokee which includes The Folk Art Center and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center. This section of the Parkway offers beautiful views, plenty of hiking trails, Mount Pisgah and the Pisgah National Forest, Graveyard Fields, Devil’s Courthouse and the Cradle of Forestry Overlook. Asheville is ideally located to provide easy access to outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, from the waterfalls of Dupont State Forest to rafting along the French Broad River or a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum with beautiful gardens as well as wooded trails. Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are close as well.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Park

There is still plenty to see and do in the area. Asheville itself has beautiful views and hosts events all summer long. The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, with over 300 exhibitors is here this weekend and Bele Cher, the largest free music and arts street festival in the Southeast is here next weekend. Folkmoot USA, a two week celebration of world cultures with international folk music and dance is going on right now. Just a few of the other festivals this summer include the Mountain Dance & Folk Festival August 1-3,  The Village Art & Craft Fair on the Grounds of the All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village on Aug. 3-4 and the LAAFF music and arts street fair on Labor Day weekend. A great place to get information on summer festivals as well as the many outdoor activities in the Asheville area is www.romanticasheville.com.

A Relaxing Day Trip to Black Mountain- The Front Porch of Western North Carolina

March 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Black Mountain General Store

Downtown Black Mountain nestled in the mountains

Just 15 miles from Asheville is the quaint town of Black Mountain, nestled in the mountains and overflowing with charm. That small town feeling makes for a relaxing day trip of hiking, shopping or enjoying a leisurely lunch at one of their restaurants or cafés. We did just that the other day and took in the beautiful mountain views on the quick drive into town. With a history steeped in the arts, Black Mountain has lots of art & craft galleries to browse through as well as artists studios and unique gift stores. From the 1930s until the 1950s Black Mountain College brought the focus of American culture and arts to the mountains of North Carolina with a dazzling array of artists and thinkers associated with the college. John Cage and Buckminster Fuller taught there and Albert Einstein served on the board of directors to mention just a few. Fuller’s Geodesic Dome was created there.

Mountain Dulcimer Players

Instruction on the Mountain Dulcimer at Song of the Wood

Black Mountain is still a hub of creativity in a peaceful, slow paced way. I could have stayed all afternoon in the dulcimer showroom and workshop where Terry Read Smith crafts beautiful instruments. I particularly loved his richly toned and intricately carved hammered dulcimers. His sister was demonstrating and instructing a customer on a mountain dulcimer at the time and I couldn’t leave without buying one of Terry’s own CDs. Their shop is aptly called Song of the Wood.

Antique stores and gift shops drew us in as well, and we couldn’t miss the old fashioned general store. It was almost warm enough to eat on the lovely patio at the Black Mountain Bistro. Instead we lingered over lunch within a glassed-in area of the restaurant that gave us the views and feel of the patio.

Black Mountain's Lake Tomahawk

The Fountain at Lake Tomahawk

After lunch we explored the neighborhoods, admiring some of the older homes, (our weakness!). We’ve always been hooked on Victorian and Arts & Crafts architecture. We took a lovely stroll around Lake Tomahawk before heading home. All in all, a relaxing getaway for a few hours.

If you go, don’t forget the Black Mountain Music Scene as well. In addition to outdoor festivals such as the Lake Eden Arts Festival, Groovin on Grovemont, Park Rythyms at Lake Tomahawk, the local clubs offer a wide range of live music drawing fans from around the area.

You can find more photos of Black Mountain in our photo gallery.

 

A Halloween Stroll Through the Historic Riverside Cemetery

October 30th, 2011 by abedofroses

Riverside Cemetery View

The rolling hills of the Riverside Cemetery

In the heart of the Montford Historic District is 87 acres of rolling hills and parkland dotted with monuments to Asheville’s most illustrious residents.  What more fitting place to take a walk on this Halloween weekend than a cemetery! This easy hike through the tombstones is anything but scary, though! The hillsides are filled with beautiful trees and shrubs, lovely views and grave markers and mausoleums that are beautiful and fascinating sculptures as well as tributes to the dead. The historic Riverside Cemetery was established in the summer of 1885 and remains an active cemetery run by the city of Asheville since the 1950s.

The list of notable residents of the cemetery is long and includes famous authors Thomas Wolfe and William Sydney Porter, known by his pen name O. Henry, as well as a bodyguard to Abraham Lincoln, James H. Posey and Queen Carson, Asheville’s first female public school principal. They share the lovely shaded hills with Confederate generals and prominent citizens. Oliver Davis Revell, the entrepreneur who built the Queen Anne Victorian that is now A Bed of Roses B&B, occupies a prominent spot accompanied by his wife the former Caroline Gray.

Even though the cemetery was started in the Victorian period, the oldest tombstone is dated 1814 and marks the grave of John Lyon, a famous English botanist who lived here for many years and collected rare plants to ship to English gardens. His grave was moved three times until finding it’s final resting place in Riverside Cemetery. Several other graves were removed from previous burial grounds and reinterred at Riverside.

Stained glass window in mausoleum

The stained glass inside a mausoleum

On a recent beautiful fall day I took a walk there with my camera. The photos can be seen in our photo gallery. I’ve always been particularly fascinated with mausoleums and there are several impressive ones at Riverside. Peering through their gates you can see the intricate stained glass windows designed to be illuminated from the outside and viewed only by the mausoleum’s inhabitants.

Detail of a carved mausoleum door

Detail of a carving on a mausoleum door

The door of one notable mausoleum is a striking and elegant sculpture in itself. The Green mausoleum, made entirely of marble is the work of a craftsman involved in the construction of the Biltmore Estate. A stone carver for the Biltmore, Fred Miles, carved the Buchanan family’s angel from limestone left over from the construction of the Biltmore Estate.

Audio tours of the historic cemetery are available on CD at the Asheville Visitors center or the Pack Place Information Desk on Pack Square. Asheville Historic Tours has also released an iPhone ap to allow visitors to tour the cemetery guided by their iPhones! It is available at the App Store or iTunes. The virtual tour can also be downloaded as an MP3 file at www.history-at-hand.com.

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