Mini NC Adventure: Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge is definitely one of the most popular hikes around the Boone area of North Carolina, and after visiting, I can see why. There are few other hikes that are as short yet rewarding as this one. While the climb can be a bit treacherous, the views from the top are amazing.

The trailhead is located on the Grandfather Mountain section of the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 302.8. There is a pretty decent sized parking lot at the trailhead, and both times I have gone, the parking lot didn’t fill up. But I can imagine that during the summer and fall, it would be hard to find a space.

The hike all the way to the top is just under a mile, but if you wanted a shorter hike, you could definitely stop at boardwalk that has been built about 1/3 of a mile up. The boardwalk was built to protect the fragile vegetation that grows on the rocks, and hikers are required to stay on the boardwalk. The summit is another 1/2 of a mile up, and the views just keep getting better and better. Along the way to the summit you will find a rock jutting out which is a famous spot for photos. Be careful on the rock though. While photos make it look a bit more daredevilish, there is still quite a drop to the ground if you were to slip and fall. After just a bit more hiking, you will reach the summit at 4,773 feet.

From the summit you can see views of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct, and miles and miles of beautiful mountain scenery. There is a cable to help you get to the highest rock as it is pretty steep, but you don’t want to miss the views from the top there. You feel like you are on top of the world. There are several rock outcroppings to sit and enjoy the views which would be perfect for a little picnic on a sunny day.

The hike is an in-and-out trail, so once you have soaked up all of the views, just turn around and go back down the way you came up. There are more trails that connect to this one and is part of the larger, 13 mile Tanawha Trail and Mountains-to-Sea trail.

I have only enjoyed this hike in the winter, I can imagine that the colors are spectacular in the fall while the leaves are changing or in the spring and summer when the mountains are full and green. I’d also love to go back for a sunset when I can imagine the sky lights up a beautiful shade of pink and ends the night with a fade to purple and blue. I will definitely be visiting Rough Ridge again in the near future.

After exploring this trail with my dog, I read that dogs are not actually allowed on this trail. Pets are prohibited to protect the fragile and vulnerable plant community and keep it in tact. So, I would not recommend bringing your fluffy friend along with you especially if you are planning to hike on a potentially busy day. No one actually said anything to me, but I had the feeling I might be doing something wrong when I realized that no one else had a dog on the trail, something that doesn’t often happen.

I strongly urge you to test this hike out if you have not already. You could not ask for better views for such a quick hike, and if mountains are what you love, this hike is for you.

 

Mini NC Adventure: Upper Creek Falls

This spring break lead me to a wonderful new hike to another gorgeous waterfall in North Carolina. After two long months in Raleigh, I was ready to get outdoors, in the mountains, and surround myself with nature for a bit. After searching around the interwebs for some new hikes, I found this hike and immediately had the urge to go. The hike in and out wasn’t long and I can’t wait to go back in the summer and possibly swim in the smaller falls.

The falls are located in the Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181 near the small community of Jonas Ridge. I was driving to the falls from Pineola and found the trailhead on my left after driving for about 7.5 miles. You can see a Pisgah National Forest sign from the road, that leads you to a pretty decent size parking lot.

 

The hike was a loop hike, and you could choose to see the lower or the upper falls individually as well. I started with the upper falls, (although, for a less strenuous hike, I would recommend starting with the lower falls). The hike down to the upper falls was not too bad. Despite it being so close to the highway, I found that after a few minutes of hiking, you felt completely immersed in the Pisgah National Forest. The trail is full of rocks and roots, so be careful of your footing on your way down.

Once you have made it down to Upper Creek, you will find a wooden bridge that leads you down to creek. I wandered around for a bit trying to see what I could at the upper falls. To get across the creek you have to rock hop, but I found that the hop-able rocks were easy to get across. When you get to the other side you can walk out to the top of the falls and try to get a glimpse over the falls. I would not suggest getting too close to the edge, especially if the rocks are wet or you don’t feel sturdy on your own two feet. One slip, and the fall would be lethal. But the large open rocks would be perfect picnic spots on a sunny afternoon.

After crossing the creek, you will find a campsite with a trail leading you to the lower falls. There are a few other herd paths that lead you further up the creek, but it is obvious which one leads you to the bottom of the falls. There are several different herd paths that lead to the bottom of the falls, and after viewing several other photos from the falls, I’m not sure if I took the right one, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

After spending a few minutes chilling at the bottom of the falls, I hiked back up and out of the gorge. Again, you have to rock hop across the creek, but then its up, up, up to the parking lot. I am not the biggest fan of switchbacks, and found the hike out tiresome, but well worth the waterfall. As you hike back up to the parking lot, you will find a large boulder jutting out of the ground and it looked like climbers had already put anchors on the rock. If I could boulder, I definitely would have stopped here and had a little climb before finishing the hike out. You can also climb onto the top of the boulder from the back and find a slightly terrifying view of the creek below.

The hike was not too long, about 1.7 miles, and perfect for a warm afternoon. Since you’re hiking down a gorge to the waterfall there is a loss (then gain) of about 500 feet.  The majority hike consists of switchbacks so its not too steep, but your calfs will still be burning on the way up. I can’t wait to go back and visit in the summer months and hopefully take a dip in the upper falls.

Mini NC Adventures: Green Knob Overlook

There is something about moving away that makes you appreciate your hometown a little bit extra. It seems like every time I go home now, I make sure to take a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sometimes its just to enjoy a little drive time with the windows down, the music blaring, and an absolute masterpiece of mountains surrounding me.

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Sometimes I go to find comfy spots to set up my Eno hammock and read.

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Sometimes I see things from the road and think, “how can I get up there”. This particular blog post is dedicated to that exact feeling that I had while driving on this beautifully crafted piece of infrastructure. If your driving north to south along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will spot a little hut onto of a mountain around mile marker 350 (roughly 5 miles north of Mount Mitchell). I pulled over to the very next overlook and got out and looked around. It took a while to find the trail head as it doesn’t seem to be hiked very often. I had to walk north for like the length of a football field (100 yards roughly) and found a tiny little trailhead on the other side of the road.

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The hike was relatively short, but gained quite a bit of elevation. The whole hike consists of switchbacks so its not too steep, but its high up. Its probably like half a mile or so, but I’m sure you could look this up to figure out for sure. I would give it a 5/10 on the difficulty scale. A fit grandmother could probably hike it, and hiking boots aren’t required, but you will be sweating once you get to the top (especially if it is sunny).

 

The view from the top though is probably like a 9/10. It would have been a 10/10 if the outlook was unlocked, but unfortunately the highest I could go was the stairs. You are right on top of a mountain (probably more accurately a ridge) and you can see awesome view on both sides of the mountain. It was pretty windy, so I didn’t spend too long up there. There is something about being on a rickety staircase with the wind blowing me (and my camera) around that just isn’t very enticing to me. My camera also didn’t particularly like the high winds and the battery died relatively quickly as if saying “get me down from here”.

I would highly recommend this short little hike to anyone though. I want to try to do it again in the summer and see if the outlook is unlocked for people to go up into. I am assuming it was locked for the winter season, but I’m not too sure. Let me know if any of you have ever been on this hike, or have ever seen this overlook. Also, if anyone knows of any other overlooks off of the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, let me know! I want to check them out!

Alright. I think thats about it for this week. Only 21 more days until I leave for Europe! Get ready for some more travel blog posts! I hope you all have an amazing day, and rest of your weekend!

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.

Mini NC Adventures: Roaring Creek Falls

As of recently, I’ve been really into getting to know the area that I live better. There is so much unexplored terrain in Mitchell and the surrounding counties of North Carolina. I’ve been home quite a lot in the past month (spring break, Easter break, and this past weekend) and therefore, I have been trying to dip my toes into the unexplored lands of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of my new favorite oasis is Roaring Creek Falls in Yancey County, NC. I went for the first time over Spring Break, then returned during Easter break with my mother. Okay, I’ll show you some pictures and then tell you all about the falls (or all that I know at least).

So, the falls are located in Yancey County, NC not too far from Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River). There is about a .5 mile walk to the base of the falls that is almost entirely on an old logging road (definitely Grandma-level “hiking”). I’d give it a 2/10 difficulty rating. To get to the top of the falls you will have to do a little climbing (definitely not Grandma-level hiking). I would give it a 7/10 difficulty rating, my dog and my mother both got up and down without too much difficulty. The view from the top and the bottom are both equally beautiful, but I definitely recommend seeing the falls (any falls you visit) from the top as well as the bottom. It changes your perspective of the falls, and just makes the whole experience more rewarding.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you live in WNC and haven’t seen these falls yet, I highly recommend that you make the trip to go see them. I encourage you all to try to get to know your city, town, region, a little better and go explore places you’ve never been to. I am sure that you won’t regret it.

I hope you are all having a wonderful day, and enjoying this crazy thing called life.

Peace out, enjoy life, and live the adventure.