The Blue Ridge Parkway
Only a couple of miles from our cabins for rent near Asheville is an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. For those who may not know, the Parkway is a 469-mile scenic route stretching from Waynesboro Virginia to Cherokee, NC. If you do get on the Parkway at the entrance near our cabins in Asheville, driving south will immediately take you to the to an overlook of the French Broad River. From there, the scenery just keeps getting better with plenty of overlooks on either side of the road.
A great place to stop and eat is the Pisgah Inn at mile marker 409. The food is great and the scenery from the restaurant is breathtaking. Before or after you eat, you can drink in the view while sitting in rockers overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains.
If you drive for another 15 minutes or so, there are great hiking spots at Graveyard Fields (mile marker 418) and Black Balsam (mile marker 421). Graveyard Fields will give you a great wooded hike along a with a beautiful creek. There are plenty of areas to put your feet in and a few that you could swim (if you can stand the cold water). Tracie and I spent many afternoons here when the kids were young eating lunch and allowing them to play in the water.
Black Balsam will give a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. The view is outstanding but the wind is ALWAYS blowing very hard. Make sure you bring a picnic lunch, blanket to sit on and warm clothes. This is our family’s number one camping spot. The best time to do these hikes is when it’s warm and in the afternoon or evenings (too much fog in the mornings).
Unless you want to end up in Cherokee (which is not a bad option), heading back to Asheville from here may be your best option as there is not much to see that is different than what you have already seen.
Traveling north from the entrance of our cabins for rent, it will take you about 30 minutes before you begin seeing any vistas. If, however, you can remain patient, and the traffic isn’t too bad (do not go on a weekend in October), in about an hour you will reach Mount Mitchell at mile marker 350.
Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi and the coldest place in all of North Carolina-no matter what time of year it is. Once in the parking lot, it is about a ½ mile walk to the top. It’s a steep walk but well worth the climb.
When you have finished sightseeing, you COULD eat at the restaurant not far from the parking lot. However, unless you’re starving, I would wait for better food back in Asheville-like Papas and Beer (Tracie’s favorite Mexican restaurant) which is only a mile away from our cabins for rent near Asheville.