North Carolina | Virginia • https://www.nps.gov/blri
A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. 469 miles of pure beauty, wonder and lots of hiking. This is one of the roads where the journey exceeds each destination.
Information & Tips:
- Driving the parkway is free.
- Many visitor centers along the parkway which provide great information and updated parkway closures as winter months will close sections of the parkway due to snow and ice.
- The North Carolina section from mile post 294 to 420 is the most scenic and beautiful in our opinion.
- Speed limit on the parkway is generally 35mph with occasional 45mph zones.
- Along the parkway are many great mountain towns worth checking out: Highlands, Brevard, Asheville, Blowing Rock, Little Switzerland just to name a few.
- Highest mountain on the east coast, Mt. Mitchell, if off the parkway at mile post 355. Access is free and you can drive, or hike, to the top.
- Food & gas is not available on the parkway. Must go into a neighboring towns.
- Popular hiking trails will get very busy. You can usually beat the crowds by getting to trail heads before 9am.
- Hiking, road biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking and canoeing are just a few of the activities available.
- There are many, many lookouts along the route. The views can be amazing and you’ll likely want to stop at several.
- Humpback Rocks Trail [milepost 5.8]: The short but strenuous one-mile hike up to The Rocks rewards hikers with spectacular views of the Rockfish and Shenandoah Valleys and glimpses of the Parkway as it winds its way through the forest below. 2mile out & back with 700′ elevation gain.
- Devils Den Nature Preserve Trail [milepost 199.5]: The preserve contains rugged rock formations on a ridge side, featuring a cave or rock shelter known as Devil’s Den. 0.9 mile out & back.
- Green Knob Trail [milepost 295.9]: A diverse trail with great views, open fields, and multiple creek crossings. 2.3 mile loop.
- Rough Ridge Lookout Trail [milepost 302.8]: Hike to a series of extraordinary stone overlooks and see long-range views of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct, and Linville Gorge. 1.6 mile out & back 480′ elevation gain to the Rough Ridge summit.
- Grandfather Trail [milepost 305]: The literal pinnacle of hikes on Grandfather Mountain is the challenging, strenuous Grandfather Trail across the crest of its three peaks of MacRae, Attic Window and Calloway. There are chutes where progress is hand-over-hand and some extra steep sections where hikers use in-place cables and ladders. 4.8 mile out & back from the mile high bridge at Grandfather Mountain State Park.
- Crabtree Falls Trail [milepost 339.5]: Hike the Crabtree Falls Trail to one of North Carolina’s most beautiful waterfalls at over 70′ tall. 2.5 mile loop.
- Balsam Nature Trail [milepost 355.4]: Hike on the highest trail east of the Mississippi! 0.9 mile loop.
- Craggy Pinnacle Trail [milepost 367.6]: Hike to exceptional panoramic 360-degree views of the surrounding area and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 1.2 mile out & back with 242′ elevation gain.
- Rattlesnake Lodge Trail [milepost 374.4]: Hike to a beautiful overlook view and the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge, a 1900s summer estate. 2.8 mile out & back from Ox Creek Road, 1 mile out & back from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Graveyard Fields Loop Trail [milepost 418]: Take a short hike to a beautiful waterfall or a much-longer 3.5-mile loop through the meadow to a second waterfall.
- Black Balsam Knob Trail [milepost 420]: Surrounded by wilderness, this tree-free ‘bald’ is an easy, family-friendly hike, ideal for picnicking or blueberry picking. 1.4 mile out & back
- Sam Knob Trail [milepost 420]: Hike to the summit of Sam Knob, catching sweeping summit views and exploring a beautiful, wildflower-filled meadow just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. 2.2 mile out & back with 570′ elevation gain.
- Devil’s Courthouse Trail [milepost 422]: This hike takes you to the summit of Devil’s Courthouse, a high-elevation rocky summit with a fantastic cliff-top overlook. .8 mile out & back with 272′ elevation gain.
(~360 miles of trails)