Sunday, December 16, 2012

Favorite Day trip from Asheville NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard, NC and back to Asheville NC


Favorite Day trip from Asheville NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard, NC and back to Asheville NC - an 80 mile driving loop with lots of things to do along the way.

Start in Asheville at mile post marker (MPM) 384 and the Blue Ridge Parkway Parkway Visitor Destination Center, open year round, 9am - 5pm excepting Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day.  Public restrooms are available here.  Also, get your National Park,  Parkway map and other area trail maps at this location.  This is great place for an introduction to the history and beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a 24 minute award winning film and the "I-Wall," a 22 foot interactive Parkway Map - all in a beautiful Leed certified building - a wonderful resource for the visitor to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If traveling between November and March along the Parkway, be sure and check for Parkway Closures and Road conditionsShort-term or weather related closures on the Parkway are updated at the park information line at (828) 298 0398.

View from observation deck atop Mt Pisgah
First Leg of this 80 mile loop is a 30 mile stretch along the Blue Ridge Parkway:  There are mile post markers every mile along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Some of our favorite things to do along this particular 30 mile stretch (with 11 tunnels) besides a visit to the Visitors Center, are a stroll in gardens and trails within the North Carolina Arboretum, entrance, just off MPM 393, a hike to the summit of Mount Pisgah  at MPM 408, if you are up for it.  This is a short but rigorous 3mi RT hike, gentle at the start, a little strenuous the last little bit - if you make it the views are worth it.  There are amazing long range views from atop this 6,800 plus foot mountain; if the timing is right stop at MPM 408.5 at Pisgah Inn (closed from November to April) for lunch - try the fresh trout, or just take an afternoon dessert break there.  Perched on the edge of the mountain at 5000', Pisgah Inn hosts beautiful views looking east out of the large glass windows from the dining room and several trails are accessible from here, to make as long or as short as you like.  


Looking Glass Falls - right off Hwy 276
Second Leg of this drive is along an 18 mile stretch of Hwy 276 as it winds down along Looking Glass Creek and the Davidson River through Pisgah National Forest.  Get off the Parkway at MPM 412, taking Hwy 276/Wagon Gap Road towards Brevard, NC.  First possible stop is at Pink Beds is a wonderful picnic spot with picnic tables, trailheads, open meadows and public restrooms.  And just past Pink Beds on your left is The Cradle of Forestry with short interpretive trails and a movie about the history of forestry.  Additional favorite stops along Hwy 276 include Sliding Rock (a fee area for parking) for an exciting slide and breath-taking dip - or watch others as they take the plunge!  There are public restrooms here and an observation deck from which to watch the "sliders," in the event you would rather not slide yourself!  A favorite easy and relatively short (2 miles) forest hike along this stretch of Hwy 276 is the Moore Cove Falls hike, located about a mile north of Looking Glass Falls.  The Parking lot for this trailhead is on the east side of 276 (left as you are descending) with parking by a bridge that crosses over Looking Glass Creek.  Another mile down the road on your left will be the spectacular Looking Glass Falls, a picture perfect water fall right off the road.  Park and take the stairs down to the foot of the falls for better views of it and even a try dip in the pool at the base of the falls, if you're up for it!  For a side trip off of 276, just after Looking Glass Falls will be a spur road on your right called Fish Hatchery Road.  A few miles down this road will land you at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.  I always enjoy the Fish Hatchery there and feeding the fish.  There are several hikes that begin from the parking lot. There are public restrooms and a quaint gift shop as well as many other hikes, creeks, swimming holes, mountain biking trails and picnic pullouts  - too many to mention; again, this is a wonderful section of road to explore.  Back on Hwy 276, continue towards Brevard.  

3rd Leg of this loop drive -  head into the town of Brevard or straight on back to Asheville:  Just as you drive out of the National Forest boundary, you will see Dolly's Dairy Bar on your left, a favorite ice-cream stop.  This is a fairly large and busy 4 way intersection with a WalMart, grocery story, outdoor shops and fast food joints. Turn left onto Hwy 280 to head back to Asheville, or turn right onto Hwy 64 and head into Brevard, a small and quaint Mountain Town with an enjoyable and walkable downtown with a few delightful shops and restaurants.  16 miles on Hwy 280 will take you to I-26 West where you can get quickly back on the interstate to reach Asheville in another 10 miles.

Enjoy this loop and if you're staying in Asheville, you can get more information about this loop and many other day trip options if you are lodging at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast or one of the Vacation Rentals managed by Vacation In Asheville.  Reservation office hours are 9am - 5pm daily, 828 994-2627.  Reservationists know the area well and can help you with area information.