Saturday, July 25, 2009
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders for 469 miles - from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. For 252 miles it follows the ridge lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Since the speed limit runs about 45 MPH, this is a road that you open the windows and forget about getting anywhere in a hurry.
Hiking trials abound along with lakes, ponds, waterfalls, picnic areas, campgrounds and scenic overlooks. We took the "Parkway" as we like to call it, from Asheville south to Bryson City. At this point the Parkway runs along the highest ridges from 4000 feet to 5000 in elevation, reaching 6047 feet above sea level at Richland Balsam Mountain Overlook (Milepost 431) The view was breathtaking and the sky a clear blue.
I was not able to take good photos of the tunnels that run through the mountains on the Parkway. All but one tunnel is located in the NC stretch of Parkway. We went through about six or seven enroute to Bryson City. Pine Mountain Tunnel measuring 1,434 feet long, is the longest on the Parkway.
Ferrin Knob Tunnel #1 is the first and longest of the triplet tunnels, named because of the profusion of ferns (once referred to locally as ferrins) growing on their backs. Tunnels #2 and #3 are located at mileposts 401.3 and 401.5.
Hominy Valley was named for southern breakfast fare -a small grain ground from a variety of corn. Pioneers soaked kernels in weak wood lye until the hulls floated to the top to make hominy.
Devil's Courthouse Trail (0.4 mile, strenuous) climbs through a spruce-fir forest to the 5,462-foot summit of Devil's Courthouse. The 360-degree view encompasses three states: South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. A metal, compass like plaque pinpoints mountains on the horizon. This area has rare plants and is easily damaged. This is the southernmost spot on the Parkway to watch the annual hawk migration.
Richland Balsam Overlook is the highest point on the Parkway. The overlook elevation is 6,047 feet. If you look across the motor road you view Richland Balsam Mountain, elevation 6,410 feet.
Hope you enjoyed the tour! For more Scenic Sunday click on this photo -