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A Relaxing Trip Down the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile national parkway that runs from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  Amazing overlooks, endless hiking trails, campsites, parks and, of course, gorgeous views are all over this All-American Road, just waiting for adventurous trail-blazers and sightseers to wander its trails, creeks, and rivers.  As a Boone resident, I have the privilege of living right off of the Parkway.  And consequently, I have learned of all the great places to hang out and chill.  These spots are right off of the Parkway and are perfect for hanging up your hammock and reading, dozing, studying, or relaxing.

Once you turn onto the Parkway, follow the arrow South.

Blue Ridge Parkway Directions

The first stop is Moses Cone Memorial Park.  Up on the hill sits a 20-room, 13,000 square foot mansion that was the estate of Moses Cone, a textile entrepreneur, built in 1901.  Now, this beautiful manor serves as the Parkway Craft Center, which sells handmade crafts by local and regional artists.  Horseback riding trails, hiking trails, and an apple barn grace this pine and hemlock covered park.

Moses Cone Memorial Park

Continue driving down the Parkway until you see a sign for Julian Price Memorial Park.  This 4,300-acre park was named in honor of Julian Price, an insurance executive who bought this extensive plot in the late 1930s as a vacation spot for his insurance company employees.  Today, it contains 7 trails, an amphitheater, a lake, and a pond for camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing, and picnicking.

Julian Price Memorial Park

 

There are two spots in particular that are especially peaceful and hammock-friendly…

Sims Pond:

Sims Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Price Lake:

 

Price Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit farther down the road is the Boone Fork Trail, home to the Tanawha Trail, a 13.5-mile stretch from Julian Price Park to Beacon Heights.  “Tanawhe” is the Cherokee word for fabulous eagle or hawk, and it is as unique as its name.  This trail has an ancient, fragile ecosystem with hardwood coves, evergreens, boulder fields, and bridges that were dropped into place by helicopter.  It crosses Wilson Creek, with cascading streams and huge, flat rock formations.  With warm sun rays shining through the trees and the rushing of the waterfall in the background, this place is ideal for relaxing.

Tanawha Trail

Finally, after a short drive up the mountain until the road emerges from the treetops, stop off at Rough Ridge.  The hike to Rough Ridge Overlook continues along the Tanawhe Trail up to a breathtaking cliff-lined alpine crest far above the Piedmont hills, with a good view of Grandfather Mountain.  Cable-lined boardwalks and bridges keep you on the trail as you climb the steep, rocky steps to the summit of Rough Ridge.

Rough Ridge Overlook

There are countless places in the world that hold stunning views and remarkable flora and fauna.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is no exception – the laid-back culture, the views, endless outdoor activities, and all-around beauty of this mountain region daily fascinate visitors and residents alike.

 

 

 

 

 

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