Candler, NC (high 77, low 52)
We’ve had some wonderful days and seen some amazing things since we’ve been here in North Carolina, but I think yesterday may have been my favorite so far.
Most everything we have done has involved the Blue Ridge Parkway one way or the other. It’s the center of all that’s beautiful in this area.
The Blue Ridge is a National Scenic Highway. It runs 469 miles from Virginia through North Carolina. There are no commercial vehicles allowed, so everyone there is just enjoying the scenery. There are many marked hiking trails, numerous waterfalls and primitive campgrounds. There is a scenic overlook every time you turn around, so there are plenty of places to stretch your legs, or take photographs. There are some visitor centers with gift shops, and bathrooms, but there are no gas stations….at least not that we’ve seen.
The parkway runs pretty much on top of the mountains and there are not a lot of roads to get you on or off it. Travel is slow, so if you’re in a hurry, stay away. Make sure you fill your gas tank. A big Rv can use it, but for the life of me, I don’t know why you’d want to. The roads are good, but they are extremely curvy and the elevation is either going up or down constantly. You have to really watch the road to avoid falling off the side of a mountain. We’ve seen very few rv’s and they have been fairly small ones. We did see a big diesel pusher up at Mt. Mitchell, but I don’t know why because there is no campground there except for tents.
Al has been wanting to go to Mt Mitchell, so yesterday was the day. Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi, at 6684 feet. I was a little nervous (of course).
Our campground is right off Highway 151, which is also known as Mt. Pisgah Highway. It will lead us straight?? up the mountain to connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway. That is quickest way to get to the parkway, but we won’t use it again. We made the mistake of going up Highway 151 the first day we were here….in the truck, not the motorhome, thank God. There are signs warning you that trucks should not drive on this road. It was the curviest and steepest road I’ve even been on. Many parts were extremely narrow and two cars meeting would have to be real careful. We have made a point of getting to the Blue Ridge via other roads.
So, yesterday, we took the long way, and got onto the Blue Ridge and headed to Craggy Gardens. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was on the way to Mt. Mitchell, which was our main goal.
There was a nice little scenic over look with a visitor center with gift items, and restrooms.
If you looked up, you could see the road ahead leading right through the mountain. See the tunnel?
There was a beautiful scenic overlook, so we took some time and enjoyed the view and took pictures.
We looked up to this peak in the next picture, and noticed people walking around on the top of the hill. It was a long way up from the parking lot where we were. We thought they were daredevils and didn’t know how the heck they got all the way up there.
We finally got back into the truck and proceeded through the tunnel and up the mountain.
Once we got up the mountain a little we discovered how those people got all the way on the top of that mountain. There was a nice little trail.
It sounded like an easy one, since it was only .7 of a mile…but we knew better. We knew it would be straight up a mountain at 6000 feet!
It was a very pretty trail though and well worth the effort.
We started out going through a tunnel of Rhododendron's. They will be in full bloom and gorgeous in May and June…and we hope to be here then.
It was a beautiful hike up.
The view was spectacular and the fall color is really starting to appear.
See the parking lot down below in the following picture? That’s where we initially parked and looked up at the people on the top of the mountain.
We’re at 6086 feet elevation.
There was a pretty lake down below.
The trip back down the trail was much easier.
We loved Craggy Gardens, but our main goal was Mt. Mitchell. I’ll cut this post short and do one on Mt. Mitchell tomorrow. It was the most amazing place and we plan to go back before we leave.