Sandy McLeod

Hiking the Blue Ridge

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May
5

Hiking the Blue Ridge

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If you are looking for a nice close place to hike without even getting in your car, look no further than Willow Winds. Our property backs up to the Mountains to the Sea trail as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are looking for a early morning hike or run before the rest of the family wakes up or want to do a family hike but stay close to home we have the trail for you.

Many guests at the Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds are outdoor enthusiasts who welcome a challenging hike. They revel in the strain of climbing up steep, winding paths. Other guests prefer a gentle walk through blue-misted, rolling trails. They prefer to catch the sights that aren’t that far from the overlooks off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

No matter what your proclivity, you’ll find suitable hiking opportunities on some of the most spectacular trails of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Asheville, North Carolina, is one of just two cities that the Parkway skirts. (The other is Roanoke, Virginia.) This proximity affords Asheville easily accessible trails with breathtaking views.

 

The two most famous trails — the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail — lie just off the Parkway roads. Since you can find information on these trails almost everywhere, described below are several lesser-known but no less beautiful trails. Visit the Willow Winds office to talk to one of our staff members about finding a trail to suit your level of determination.

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This easy 0.8-mile hike is an educational experience. The self-guided interpretive trail teaches you about the effects of acid rain on deforestation. It’s an easy hike that explores the highest, most northern area in the South. There’s a shelter lodge in the first leg of the trail that was used by explorers as far back as 1850. You’ll also pass a stream that is believed to be the highest stream in the eastern United States. Find the Balsam Nature Trail off the Parkway at milepost 355.

 

The Craggy Pinnacle Trail

The trailhead for this trail is at milepost 364, just north of the Visitor’s Center. It’s a short hike, only 1.4 miles roundtrip. Although moderately difficult, the trail has two resting benches along the way if you need them. At the peak 5,892 feet above sea level, you’ll find a 360-degree view of the mountains, dominated by the Mt. Mitchell range.

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Linville Falls Trail

Some of the most popular hiking trails near Asheville are the three hikes at milepost 316 that take you to various views of the Linville Falls. While these trails require about a two-hour drive to reach, they are well worth the wait. You can hike an easy or moderate trail for one or two miles roundtrip to view the Parkway’s biggest waterfall, 100 feet of foaming, thunderous scenery. Signs lead to views from the top of the falls and across the river to the sides.

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Douglas Falls Trail

If you want to leave the comfort of the hot tub in your cabin and stretch your legs on a strenuous hike, try the Douglas Falls Trail at milepost 363. The 7.2-mile roundtrip hike takes you through steep, rugged virgin forest down switchbacks past Cascade Falls and ends at Douglas Falls. This trail is one of the best hikes plummeting to the floor of the Pisgah National Forest’s Craggy Mountain Scenic Area.

 

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