View Full Version : The Blue Ridge Pkwy

09-16-2016, 10:09
I see the Blue Ridge Pkwy extends 469 miles from Cherokee NC (just east of Newfound Gap) all the way up to Skyline Drive and is maintained by the NPS. Just curious, given its close proximity to the AT, has anyone ever driven the entire parkway?

There are some 100 hiking trails along the parkway. Anyone recommend a good day hike?

I heading up to GA in the near future to do a section hike but afterward I'm going to take a road trip on the parkway.

Any other tips or suggestions?

Parkway web site (http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/index.php)

09-16-2016, 10:23
back before my hiking days i did drive the entire thing. took 2 full days to drive from gatlinburg, across GSMNP, up the entire parkway and all of skyline drive. i stopped at a lot of lookouts for a minute or two, but only did maybe 2-3 VERY (like a mile at most) short "hikes" to see some of the waterfalls and things.

its too bad it sounds like the necessity of your plans will require you to drive it south to north. having done it, i advise anyone to do it north to south. the virginia part is nice, but do to being different terrain is not as dramatic and therefore it starts to seem boring because youve already seen the more exciting parts. some of the parts in NC are among the coolest, most amazing (in a how did they mane to build a road here) roads ive ever been on (and driving roads like that, before i started hiking, was a thing with me). the VA section gets to be a pretty typical standard country road drive and is much less impressive. going north to south would allow the interest and excitement to build rather than diminish as you go.

09-16-2016, 10:28
Not the whole parkway, but from Buena Vista up to Front Royal. Beautiful drive. We stopped in the park a did a couple of short hikes along the way.

09-16-2016, 10:31
I driven all of it in Virginia and about half of it in North Carolina. It is nice if you aren't in a hurry after all that is pretty much the whole point of the Parkway, slow down and enjoy the drive.

09-16-2016, 10:56
I've driven the whole length on a motorcycle. I didn't hike any of the trails. The Inn at Mount Piscah towards the southern end is a nice place to stay. The Inn at Peaks of Otter towards the northern end is also a nice place to stay. The lodge/inn near the middle was pretty run down 10 years go, I don't know how it is now. There are a number of NPS campgrounds, but the only one I have stayed at is near the Mount Piscah Inn, and that campground has restrooms and showers. The speed limit on the parkway is 45mph. If you want gas you have to get off the parkway. Same with food, except at the first two Inns I mentioned.

09-16-2016, 11:17
Three of my friends and myself cycled most of the BRP five years ago. Was forced to abanondon the trip due to nasty front the moved in and was forcasted to stay for a few days.
Would love to go back and finish the last couple of days.

Too tired to even think about hiking.

We went north to south. The second day started with a 13 mile climb. Ouch!

Climbing was not too bad and the decents were a blast but were too short to recover before the next climb. I only remember one flattish stretch. Road was either up or down.

The weekend before the trip I did the Six Gap Century in Dahlonega Ga. The century was much harder as the roads were much steeper.

Fun times.

Tennessee Viking
09-16-2016, 11:21
There are people who thru-bike and thru-hike the Parkway. Walking the Parkway tunnels has been discouraged by NPS recently.

There is a small section of the AT outside of Roanoke that parallels a length of the Parkway. Other than that, there is the Mountains to Sea Trail from Devils Garden Overlook to Beacon Heights and then NC 80 to jumps off around Mt Mitchell and comes back on back on to the trail split to the Smokies or Waterrock Knob.

There are tons of trails in the Wilson Creek, Grandfather Mtn, Linville Gorge, Mt Mitchell areas

Possible camping is being negotiated and planned out along the MST parkway route.

09-16-2016, 11:36
When you say "near future", just keep in mind the fall colors. The Blue Ridge can get really crowded and really slow when the color changes.

09-16-2016, 12:02
Thanks for all the input. I'm leaving this Sunday. I got the pkwy app on my phone so that should help. Look forward to driving thru the tunnels. ;)sounds cool.

09-16-2016, 12:11
I drove most of the BRP in VA and Skyline Drive through the Southern Section of SNP last weekend. It is a nice (but slow) drive. Enjoy

09-16-2016, 12:45
One more thing to consider is that driving on the parkway can be tiring over long distances compared to driving on roads that we are used to driving. There are very frequent speed changes and turns over most of it. Enjoy your trip.

09-16-2016, 13:23
You don't drive the Parkway to get from Point A to Point B in a hurry. You do it for the view.

09-16-2016, 14:11
Having grown up near it, I've been on most of the NC portion. Some of my favorites are the hike from Mt Mitchell out to Mt Craig, the Plunge Basin hike at Linville Falls and for a leg stretch the .5 mile hike up to the Green Knob fire tower is nice. Good views from up on the steps of the tower.

09-16-2016, 14:23
I live no where near it, but have still driven it nearly in its entirety twice, fantastic! It does take a while though... those 469 miles feel more like 1000 in terms of how long it takes. But who wants to hurry? Truly, a national treasure.

09-16-2016, 16:51
Thanks for all the input. I'm leaving this Sunday. I got the pkwy app on my phone so that should help. Look forward to driving thru the tunnels. ;)sounds cool.

I grew up in Asheville, NC (well, half grew up, then we moved to OK). I remember our family loading up in the station wagon a bunch of times for weekend drives on the Parkway. Not sure where we went, but it was pretty. One section near us had 10 tunnels. Somehow it was always a treat to us kids to go through the tunnels.

Now that I'm all grown up I've returned a time or two, and it's a nostalgic step back in time for me to drive through those tunnels again, now with my own family.

A word about tunnels: I'm not sure about the rest of you, and if you wanna look down on me, you just go right ahead, but the Proper Way to drive through tunnels is with a few toots on the horn. Just so you know. :bse
For fun I looked it up on the google-machine. In answer to the question,
Dear Americans, why do you honk when driving through tunnels? someone had replied with this (I think it's a fantastic answer!):

"sound reverberations from the honking of the horn are what support the tunnel as a vehicle passes through it. the strength of the arch is only as strong as the sound of the horn being blown underneath the arch, which exerts pressure on the walls and causes a tighter seal. this is the same reason bicyclists whistle or yell when they pass through tunnels, every bit of sound helps to reinforce the support. if the sound echos within the tunnel, you know it is safe to pass through as long as you continue to make the sound. every american knows this because every american is taught this in school, and americans are safe people."

Hikes in Rain
09-17-2016, 09:05
Some years back in October, my wife and I took a couple of weeks and did the whole parkway. Set up elaborate base camps at the campgrounds along the way, then took in all the trails and tourist spots around. Moved to another one, and did it all over again. One of our better vacations. We had a wonderful time. As someone else here said, it's not a road to get to a destination, it's a road for the journey.

09-17-2016, 17:21
Hi and you are in for a great adventure so many places to explore along the parkway so I would suggest taking a virtual journey first to plan it to match your time available for your trip. http://www.virtualblueridge.com/ South of Asheville, Pisgah Inn and graveyard fields and north of Asheville Craggy Gardens, Mount Mitchell, the Black Mountain Crest Trail a in and out is good or you can get to Big Tom Gap and turn right and follow the connector to the Buncombe Horse Trail back to Mount Mitchell (http://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/north-carolina/black-mountain-crest-trail) Crabtree Falls great hike to falls, Little Switzerland and the mineral museum (great restaurants), Linville Gorge/Falls http://www.linvillegorge.net/images/linvillemastermap.pdf (check out Famous Louse's Restaurant great strawberry rhubarb pie) Flat Rock you are looking west at Roan and Hump Mountains https://blueridgencguide.com/2015/10/20/hiking-trails-flat-rock-loop-linville/ Grandfather Mountain, be sure to stop at Beacon Heights and Rough Ridge https://blueridgencguide.com/2011/01/31/hiking-trail-beacon-heights-linville/ https://blueridgencguide.com/2011/04/10/hiking-trails-rough-ridge-blue-ridge-parkway/ (http://www.grandfather.com/preserving-protecting/programs-and-partnerships/man-biosphere-reserve-program/) Like mount Mitchell, Linville Gorge Grandfather Mountain hiking miles are slower than AT miles. http://www.grandfather.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Trail-map.pdf
Price Park https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/julian-price-trails.htm Moses Cone Park http://www.virtualblueridge.com/wp-content/uploads/moses-cone-carriage-trails.pdf Blowing Rock and Boone area are fun to rest up. North of Boone The Cascades and Doughton Park http://www.virtualblueridge.com/wp-content/uploads/doughton-park-trails.pdf are some that have some good day hikes. Well enough as you can tell like someone else said that is a lot to see and enjoy. Happy Trails!!!!

09-18-2016, 16:53
As a guess, I've walked some 200 miles of the Blue Ridge Pkwy, often while attempting to walk atop the guardrail, have road biked 100's of miles of it, and driven the whole thing several times. Stopping at the overlooks is more scenic than walking the AT overall where there's the option of both.