When the winter months get long and the cold weather no longer makes you want to cozy up with a cup of tea, it can be hard to see to the other side of the snowy season. To beat the blizzard blues, we’ve come up with a list of some of our favorite hikes just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, most of which are within a couple hour’s drive of Asheville. So get out your calendar: spring and summer planning begins now!
Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 364, the Craggy Gardens Area, named for the gnarled rock formations that mark this area, is known as one of the best places for wildflower viewing of many of the Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes. Whether you hike the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, or choose to walk around the visitors center, you’re sure to catch unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge Parkway wilderness. While the region is best known for its rhododendrons, other vegetation and wildflowers to be spotted in the area includes Violets, blackberries, may-apple, and lilies.
Why You Should Visit: Although rhododendrons in the area don’t fully bloom until June, the springtime is a perfect chance to catch these blooms in their early stages, without the crowds of the peak season.
Though this is a popular location to visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s for good reason, as Graveyard Fields offers once of the easiest-to-access hikes just south of Asheville at milepost 418.8. The high-altitude valley is named for its somber appearance when littered with tree stumps that resembled gravestones. Since then, the region has been blanketed with wildflowers, and offers access to two gorgeous waterfalls.
Why You Should Visit: Starting in early spring, the wildflowers will begin to bloom throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, but late summer or early fall will offer some of the most spectacular views, as the leaves turn their hallmark shades of red and orange and yellow. August is also a great time to visit, as the fresh blueberries are ripe for picking at this time of year.
We could an entire post on the benefits of hiking the 12 miles of trails available on Roan mountain and within Roan Mountain State Park, but we’ll settle for a couple of key aspects of this incredible alpine region. Topping out at over 6200 feet, the Roan Mountain region offers visitors something at each turn of the year. In the summertime, blossoming fields of rhododendrons offer an excellent scene against the high-ranging peaks. In other locations, the purple wildflowers of the spring offer early season visitors the view of a lifetime in a region known for its sprawling, natural beauty.
Why You Should Visit: Flourishing natural scenery, purple wildflowers, need we say more? Roan Mountain speaks for itself, but if you’re looking for another reason to visit, consider the fact that Roan Mountain is home to the largest rhododendron garden in the world.
Located on milepost 295.5, the Green Knob Hike is an amazing opportunity to explore a remote region of the Pigsah National Forest. Of all the Blue Ridge Parkway hikes, Green Knob Trail is on the longer end. The hike is over 5000 feet in elevation, and the 9-mile out-and-back trail is provides excellent views from the grassy balds that spot the region. At the top of Green Knob, visitors will get an expansive view of the Flat Laurel Creek Valley and Sam Knob. Like other hikes in the region, this trail features the beautiful-when-blooming rhododendrons, as well as mountain laurels and wild blueberries. The hike also includes several different types of trees, among them beeches, maples, mountain ash, red spruce, and fraser fir.
Why You Should Visit: This is one of the premier hikes in the Blue Ridge Parkway region, particularly for those looking for a more secluded experience. Given the altitude and the length of the hike, it’s a great way to see a broad span of the Blue Ridge Parkway wilderness, from rocky balds to red spruce trees to mountain laurels. Did we mention rhododendrons?
Coming in at only .9 miles roundtrip, the Devil’s courthouse is one of the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway hikes, featuring an unrivaled view of the wilderness surrounding Asheville. The hike starts from milepost 422 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, beginning with a paved trail before transitioning to a set of stone steps that take you to the mountain’s top. Though this hike can get crowded in the peak season, the wilderness around this hike is both rare and vibrant, featuring rhododendrons, balsam, fern, and a flurry of other wildflowers.
Why You Should Visit: The wilderness here is as beautiful as it is rare, and continues to be one of the best hikes in the region for viewing the vast and varied populations of wildflowers and other natural spectacles throughout the year.
A gorgeous hike that’s a little further out than Graveyard Fields, Flat Laurel Creek is a moderate 2.5 mile hike that climbs gently around the headwaters basin of Flat Laurel Creek. The valley itself sits at over 5000 feet, so you’ll want to bring along more than enough water. Because it’s further out than some of the other hikes, Flat Laurel Creek tends to be less crowded, and can offer some of the best secluded wildflower viewing among the most popular Blue Ridge Parkway hikes.
Why You Should Visit: The trail and surrounding area was damaged by wildfires in the past, but in its recovery some of the scenery has grown back in excellent form. Along this trail you’ll find old-growth fir trees as well as flourishing rhododendron.
When it comes to Blue Ridge Parkway hikes, there’s no shortage of wildlife, natural scenery, and high alpine views. Whether or not you choose one of the hikes listed above, or you create your own adventure, stay geared up with Roanline. As a local outdoor business, Roanline is dedicated to making sure you have exactly what you need to fuel your next Blue Ridge Parkway adventure.
In case you missed it, here's more wildflowers to be found along the Blue Ridge Parkway:
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