Waterfalls and Woods, The Blue Ridge Parkway Part 3, NC USA
Twin Upper Falls, Linville Falls
It’s a short walk through a lovely wood to the upper falls at Linville Falls, North Carolina.
We had started planning the year before …
My husband and I had been driving, in our usual hurry, from a friend’s house in North Carolina to an airplane in Nashville, Tennessee. Not far from Asheville, NC, we pulled a short way off the highway to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center. A working wifi, a clean toilet, a few interactive displays, and I was hooked!
I picked up numerous pamphlets and maps, and started dreaming…
Dreams Start Here!
The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, has just about everything a Blue Ridge trip-planner needs.
So, when I was mapping out our trip to visit family in Tennessee and Ohio the next year, I expanded the loop with a drive down the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park and then into the Blue Ridge Mountains via the Blue Ridge Parkway (see: Blue Ridge Parkway, Part 1 and Stepping into the Past, Part 2). Naturally, the days we had originally allotted to the drive had long-since eroded, and here we were: after two days of driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway, we had a fast-approaching deadline, but a lot more road to enjoy.
In the car, I alternated between thumbing through the maps and guide books and watching the road and scenery, while my husband drove. I had to try and pick the highlights as time slipped through our fingers like sands through the hourglass…
It is hard to believe that people get up to this glorious view every day! Skyline Village Inn, Spruce Pine, NC.
That is how, on our third morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we came to be driving backwards.
Because I had booked our overnight accommodation based on where I thought we would/should be, we ended up backtracking from the tiny hamlet of Spruce Pine (Mile 330.8), north to Linville Falls (Mile 316.3). The waterfall looked too good to miss.
As it turned out, the town of Linville Falls wasn’t too bad either!
“Turkey in the Straw”
The wild turkeys at the side of the road were a morning treat as we drove north. Unfortunately for me and my camera, they move pretty quickly for a heavy bird!
Fishing in the Linville River
The river is quiet near the car park and National Park’s Visitor’s Center – clearly it is a good spot for fly fishing.
Into the Linville Woods
There are many short trails leading to waterfall over-looks; all of them are well maintained.
The extensive roots of the trees form an intricate webbing underfoot.
Hikers on the Trail
Our first breath-taking view of Linville Falls as it plunges down through Linville Gorge, was from an upper over-look. The river drops a total of 46 metres (150 ft) down several tiers.
Flowers on the Edge
Wildflowers cling to the steep drop-off next to our viewing platform. The canyon floor seems a long way down!
Upper Linville Falls
Just a short walk away, there is a completely different perspective over a different section of the falls.
The walking paths are full of colour and beauty, from the fungus at our feet…
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia)
… to the spring flowers on the trees.
Rocky Fall Base
At every turn, there is a new view of the racing water.
One of the Twin Upper Falls
Rhododendrons at the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center
After completing our morning’s walk, we drove back further, to the Linn Cove Viaduct (Mile 304.4). We had driven over the 379 metre (1243 ft) concrete bridge in the dark the night before, and were determined to get a better look.
Growth under the Linn Cove Viaduct
The Viaduct was the last section of Blue Ridge Parkway completed – designed to protect the ecology of Grandfather Mountain, one of the world’s oldest mountains. It’s hard to get a good look while you are one it, and there is nowhere to stop, so we decided to take a walk that was meant to take us to a viewing platform.
Under the Linn Cove Viaduct
We clambered through greenery, …
Path under the Linn Cove Viaduct
… and over rocks and roots, …
Car on the Linn Cove Viaduct
… but we never found a clear and unobstructed view.
Completed in 1987, the bridge comprises 153 concrete segments, only one of which is straight. It snakes around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain.
Stack Rock Creek (Mile 305)
Linville Falls Post Office (Mile 317.5)
Heading south once again, we stopped in at the charming town of Linville Falls for lunch – and even made use of their quaint Post Office. (iPhone6)
Here are two of the vehicle tunnels along the Blue Ridge Parkway; 25 of the 26 Parkway tunnels are in North Carolina.
Green Knob Overlook (Mile 350.5)
After our long morning, we were fast running out of time, so stopped only briefly at overlooks that appeared interesting.
The weather turned, …
Into the Rain Clouds
… and we drove up into the clouds …
Looking Glass Mountain from Log Hollow Overlook (Mile 416.3)
… and out the other side.
Storm Clouds over Graveyard Fields ( Mile 418)
It seemed fitting that black clouds should roll over Graveyard Fields when we stopped there; no one is sure where the name comes from, but all the proposed explanations are gloomy! (Phone6)
Visitors on the Highest Point (Mile 431)
Like any good tourist, we had to stop at the highest point on the Parkway: the Richland Balsam Overlook (6,047 ft/1843 m).
Thomas Divide Overlook (Mile 463.9)
After over-nighting in Cherokee, we were back on the Parkway just so we could say: … (iPhone6)
The Final Marker: Oconalute River (Mile 469)
… “We finished it!”
It was a beautiful drive, and we can’t wait to do it again –
Maybe in a different season,
or maybe just stopping in different places.