An October in Western North Carolina – A Photo Essay

Throughout the month of October, I traveled and hiked the high country of Western North Carolina seeking the seasonal change and corresponding forest color. One of the great things about the mountains is how you can follow the change as it lowers in elevation, starting with the highest peaks and ending in the lowest river valleys. My brother has been in the process of...

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That Day Tropical Storm Barry Came to Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Cloudy and very windy. That’s what greeted me the morning of July 14, 2019 as I first stepped from my car at Pounding Mill Overlook (milepost 413). Those who know me also know that I’ve been picking up trash and otherwise maintaining this overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway for each of the last 10 years. As I walked around to survey the accumulated trash since...

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Overnighting in the High Country on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

There’s not much more beautiful than the high country along the Blue Ridge Parkway in June. The days are long. The forest has completed its greening and the heath bushes are in bloom. If you catch the sights in the evening or very early morning you can even avoid the crowds. I’ve been on the shelf for a few weeks with an ankle injury while hiking, and was...

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Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway

Located at milepost 316.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls moves in several distinct steps, beginning in a twin set of upper falls, passing through a small twisty gorge, and culminating in a high-volume 45-foot plunge. The Linville River flows from its headwaters high on the steep slopes of Grandfather Mountain and cascades through these falls as it begins a...

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National Park Service Abandons Defense of Latest Pipeline Permit

The National Park Service has voluntarily abandoned its defense of the agency’s latest permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway. NPS issued the revised permit after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in August 2018, vacated its original authorization for the pipeline. On January 16, 2019 the Park Service asked the Fourth Circuit to remand...

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December Walking on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

The Blue Ridge Parkway frequently closes for snow and ice in late Fall and Winter. While it’s disappointing you can’t traverse the roadway by vehicle, the fun news is that you can still access your favorite overlooks on foot, without any traffic. It is so peaceful. Most access roads to the Parkway are maintained during snow season, so you can get to the...

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Flood Damage Repair at Linville Falls

At the request of the Blue Ridge Parkway Maintenance out of Gillespie Gap, the Crabtree Falls FRIENDS of the BRP Chapter and the NC High Peaks Trail Association assisted in the cleanup of flood damage at Linville Falls on Monday, June 25, 2018. Eleven members and friends of the chapter worked on this project. The team had two goals: Remove flood debris from the upper...

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Blue Ridge Parkway traffic in Asheville area will slow for ‘pavement preservation’

The sweet hum of spring and summer on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be slightly stifled with slower traffic and single-lane closures as a major repaving project gets underway. The road work is in an effort to upgrade the more than 80-year-old scenic motor road and keep it from crumbling under the weight of 16.1 million visitors a year. The National Park Service is...

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Public comment sought on trail improvement plan for Pisgah National Forest

Popular trails in the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, North Carolina are included in a trail improvement plan for the Pisgah National Forest. “Each year, several million visitors come to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the Pisgah,” said Dave Casey, the head ranger for the Pisgah district of the...

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Blue Ridge Parkway announces 2018 opening dates

Cold but dreamy snowfalls punctuated by balmy, hurry-up-and-hike days made for an unpredictable winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but according to the calendar, it’s officially spring. Soon campgrounds, visitor centers, picnic areas, and historical sites will be ready for the influx of travelers. In 2017, more than 16 million came to experience the mountains and the...

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‘Friends’ groups provide vital support for public lands

We all need friends, and public lands in Western North Carolina increasingly receive care in the form of “Friends” nonprofit groups. In an era of shrinking federal budgets for parks and forests, these organizations are stepping up to preserve and maintain public spaces. “Friends groups used to be the margin of excellence; now they’re the margin of survival,” Sally...

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Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct to Close for Repairs

The National Park Service announces the closure of the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway for surface repaving and bridge maintenance from March 1, 2018 through May 24, 2018. These projects require a full closure of the Parkway, including closure of the trail below the bridge; with the reopening coinciding with Memorial Day weekend. The Linn Cove Viaduct is...

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Linked to the landscape: Community envisions Plott Balsams’ future

The doors opened, and the room filled — with hikers, bikers, ecologists, conservation workers, economic development professionals and Cherokee tribal members alike who were intent on making their voices heard during a public forum last week, which took input on plans that will impact the future of Waterrock Knob and the Plott Balsams. “What I love is the passion that...

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Conserved land along Blue Ridge Parkway to protect water quality, hiking

The blue mountain views from Deer Lick Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway have never been sweeter. The scenic spot in northern McDowell County looking out over a sweeping mountain forest known as Wildacres will now look wild forever. On Dec. 20, 2017, in a years-long collaboration, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and...

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Conserving Carolina’s Fall Hiking Series Begins September 22, 2017

Join Conserving Carolina, formerly the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), for five Friday hikes offered to the public, free of charge, this fall. Conserving Carolina invites the community to enjoy the work that many conservation organizations have done for the preservation of areas of natural resources and take in the beauty of...

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Interior Secretary Zinke outlines future of National Park Service while visiting BRP

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke came to the mountains of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina on August 25, 2017 to celebrate the 101st birthday of the National Park Service and also lay out the department’s future. Zinke said the country’s national parks are facing an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog that he wants to close in five years. This comes on the...

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Retiring Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent reflects on 37 years with the National Park Service

Mark Woods will retire as superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway on July 3, 2017, but on July 4 he’ll don the flathat one last time as grand marshal of the Lake Junaluska Fourth of July Parade. Woods was still in college when he started working for the Park Service, knowing he wanted to do some type of conservation work but not exactly sure what form that would take....

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Scanning the Horizon from the Black Balsam High Country – A Photo Essay

When looking for some WNC high country scenery and perhaps refreshing cool air on a warm day, one of the first destinations I think of is the Black Balsam area at milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are half a dozen mountains here that stand above 6,000 feet, with encompassing 360° views from their treeless summits. This land that lies between the Shining...

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Yellowstone Prong, Blue Ridge Parkway

Yellowstone Prong has some of the most rugged terrain in all of the Pisgah Ranger District. Paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway from Looking Glass Rock Overlook at milepost 417, and climbing the drainage from Skinny Dip Falls to Yellowstone Falls, this hike in, along, and above Yellowstone Prong may be the most challenging mile I have undertaken. You will scramble over...

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Blue Ridge Parkway Announces 2017 Season Opening Schedule

Chances are that you, like many, have already been enjoying the Blue Ridge Parkway during this unseasonably warm winter. The park unit welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors in January and February of this year alone, that’s 400,000 more than the first two months of 2016! But the scenic route truly comes alive starting in spring, and the National Park Service has...

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Shut-in Ridge Trail to Ferrin Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

The Shut-in Ridge Trail and the Mountains to Sea Trail are one as they traverse the Blue Ridge from the North Carolina Arboretum to Mt. Pisgah. Along the way, there are several jumping on and off points where you can access this trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway, enabling short day hikes. One of these short sub-sections is along Bent Creek Gap Road at BRP milepost 400....

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Volunteers clean up the view along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Federal funding for the Blue Ridge Parkway has been flat in recent years, making it tougher to keep up with maintenance and litter control along the 469-mile road that traverses the highlands of Virginia and North Carolina. “The focus is more about how far those dollars go these days,” said parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon. “That gap gets a little bit bigger and harder...

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Buck Spring to Pilot Rock, Pisgah National Forest

Starting at the former site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring hunting lodge near Mt. Pisgah, this hike crosses the summit of Little Bald Mountain before dropping down the watershed to Pilot Rock, one of the many plutons found within the Pisgah Ranger District. The high country is home to thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron, while various maples, oaks and...

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Building Bridges Together

Join the celebration for the opening of the Boone Fork Bridge on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in the popular Price Lake Picnic Area, milepost 297 Blue Ridge Parkway, this Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 10 a.m. This 80-foot pedestrian span allows hikers to avoid wading across Boone Fork as they trek from the Boone Fork Trail to Shulls Mill Road, where the path continues to...

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Fall Foliage Time on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

There aren’t many places in Western North Carolina better for Autumn leaf peeping than the Blue Ridge Parkway. On Monday, October 17, 2016 I set out to demonstrate that by taking a little tour between mileposts 410 and 420. But first I had to get there. I went up the Pisgah Ridge on Scenic Hwy 276, passing the Cradle of Forestry along the way. I arrived at the Cold...

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Foggy Morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Every couple weeks or so during the green seasons I travel up to milepost 413 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Friends of the BRP has a volunteer program called Adopt-an-Overlook that I have participated in for six years. I am responsible for keeping Pounding Mill Overlook clean and green, trash free, and desirable for the tourists. Saturday, August 13, 2016 was one of those...

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Key tract protected near Pisgah National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway

For many visitors heading to the Blue Ridge Parkway via the twisting, mountainous ribbon of road known as N.C. 80, the rippling ride and scenic views might satisfy their appetite before ever reaching the national park. But the land surrounding the switchbacks of N.C. 80 have all been privately owned, leaving it vulnerable to development or timbering, and diminished...

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Waterrock Knob Celebration

The Conservation Fund and the National Park Service will host an event to commemorate the National Park Service’s Centennial and celebrate the protection of lands surrounding Waterrock Knob, a major scenic destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway. An effort to conserve more than 5,000 acres in the Plott Balsam Mountains and much of the spectacular views from Waterrock Knob...

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Mountains to Sea Trail Near Old Bald, Nantahala National Forest

Love the high country in summer. It’s like getting an extra month of spring. For much of its length through the Western North Carolina mountains, the Mountains to Sea Trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is an area near mile marker 434 on the Parkway, beneath Old Bald, where the MST winds through mixed forest and high mountain meadows teeming with...

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Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I have hiked to Hemphill Bald from the east along the Cataloochee Divide many times. However, this was the first time approaching from the west on the Hemphill Bald Trail from Polls Gap. This made my second foray into the Heintooga region of the Smokies in recent weeks, another beautiful piece of the national park that doesn’t get enough attention. This trail would...

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Flat Creek Trail to Heintooga, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This delightful forested trail in the Heintooga section of the Smokies follows Bunches and Flat Creeks up Overlook Ridge to a perch high above Cataloochee Valley and Cherokee, NC. Few short trails in the Smokies are as memorable. The pathway is carpeted with a charming wispy grass that waves in the breeze and tickles your legs as you pass by. What’s not to love? My...

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64-year-old Hiker Found Alive And Tied To A Tree

National Park Service Rangers are asking for any information about a possible assault after firefighters discovered a woman tied to a tree near Craggy Gardens along the Blue Ridge Parkway Thursday, May 12, 2016. In the early afternoon, the Reems Creek Fire Department had responded to a call for a lost person who was possibly having a medical issue, according to a captain...

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