One could spend weeks (months?) exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. From views atop the highest peak east of the Mississippi to muddy treks on trails at ominously named places such as Graveyard Fields. What to do if you just have a long weekend?
The beauty and views are unmatched on a clear and sunny day from the top of Mt. Pisgah- beware of stray summer showers and fog.
Mt. Pisgah is in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina. The trailhead is on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. For average hikers it takes about 40-45 minutes from the trailhead to the summit with it being more strenuous towards the end. A hint that the summit is near: getting a glimpse through the trees of the TV tower that sits on the top of the mountain and muffled voices of people that linger.
During the same day check out the Pisgah Inn and giftshop nearby for food, drink and local souvenirs. There are also amazing views from behind the inn.
Drive a little farther south on the Parkway and you’ll continue to see some beautiful views with overlooks along the road. Many of these overlooks have trails or picnic tables. Continue on to Graveyard Fields.
Graveyard Fields has a parking lot that is packed with hikers. There is a trail to a river and a waterfall, if the weather is amiable and you’re brave enough, take a dip in the cool river. The Upper Falls trail will take you to one of the main waterfalls. It isn’t a waterfall with a big drop over a cliff but the flowing water carves out a roaring stream over slippery rocks. Sit and let yourself enjoy hearing the soothing sounds of nature and the occasional fellow hiker.
On the second day take a drive North of Asheville to Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Hop off the Parkway at Milepost 355 to get to the state park and the parking lot for the peak which has a short paved trail up to the top. There are longer trails all over the state park if you prefer to not take an easy way up.
Whether visiting for a weekend or longer, there are so many options for hiking and amazing views on the Blue Ridge Parkway and it’s easy to socially distance yourself.