Vanderpool Cpg to Crabtree Meadows Cpg, NC

Vanderpool Campground to Linville Falls Campground, Linville Falls, NC

Monday, May 29, 2006 … 53 Camper Miles – Total 1,155

Overcast, muggy, high 70s, scattered t’showers.

Memorial Day and time to go. We broke camp by 9:30 and headed south to Blowing Rock. There we hiked the Glen Burney Trail. This community owned trail winds partway into the John’s River gorge with stops at three lovely, cascading waterfalls.

We Called it Zig Zag Falls Along Glenn Burnie Trail

Then it was off to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway to look over their display of crafts. Seeking a spot to park the rig in this crowded lot, we ended up just two cars ahead of another Aliner camper; the first other Aliner we’d seen on the trip. Inside the house we met the owners, a couple from Minnesota named Dave & Judy.

That evening we stayed at the private Linville Falls Campground just a mile off Parkway. It’s a small but very pretty wooded campground that is clean and well maintained. On advice of the owner, we drove a couple of miles to a roadside produce stand for supplies.

Frasier Fir is King Crop in This Area

Then it was back to the camper for our most colorful stir fry yet … we used the remaining basil sausage combined with zucchini, onions and garlic, red peppers, carrots, and purple cabbage. Tasted good, too!

Linville Falls Campground to Crabtree Meadows Campground, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Monday, May 30, 2006 … 30 Camper Miles – Total 1,185

High 70s, muggy, overcast to sunny, scattered t’showers.

Leaving about 10:00, we drove to Linville Falls Visitor Center on the Parkway and hiked to five of the six lookouts for the falls area but skipped the really tough trail that went to the plunge pool at the bottom of the falls. Linville Falls is regarded by some as the prettiest waterfall in North Carolina. We certainly wouldn’t argue the point.

Linville Falls

We also hiked the Duggers Creek Trail from the same location. This little creek has a small but lovely waterfall and we got a wonderful, cooling breeze.

Pause Along Dugger’s Creek Trail

From there we drove south to the NC Minerals Museum on the Parkway. They had a small display about specialty mineral mining, for which the area has a rich history and current economy. It turns out that the silica that almost every electronic or computer chip world-wide is made from is mined in this corner of NC. The museum also displayed the story of how various minerals are formed.

Next … we just had to jump off the Parkway for a stop at Little Switzerland, so-named for its geographic similarity to an area of Switzerland. In a flash, we were past this tiny village and headed down a narrow, steep, twisty road with no place to turn around. Finally, after a mile or so we saw a sign for a safe turnaround which we made. Got to plan ahead, even with a small camper rig! Returning to the village, we stopped at the “downtown” shops, browsing a neat book store, a wine & cheese shop and had a lovely tomato/basil soup for lunch.

Panorama North of Crabtree Meadows

A few miles farther down the Parkway, we pulled into Crabtree Meadows Campground. This secluded Parkway facility was pretty and is also the only camping game in town. After setting up, we drove to the small camp store / gift shop for ice. Before the holiday weekend we’d purchased a box in which to mail some stuff back home and this was the time to fill it. We really don’t have much space to store stuff we don’t actually need and this project will make it a bit easier to get at things in our storage spaces. Just one little box makes a big difference.

Crabtree Meadows Campground to Lake Powhatan, Mount Pisgah National Forest, NC

Tuesday, May 31, 2006 … 73 Camper Miles – Total 1,258

Low 70s, muggy, mostly cloudy, scattered t’showers.

One big reason to stop at Crabtree Meadows Campground was to hike the Crabtree Falls Trail. The weather was nice so we decided to take the hike before breakfast. The hike was a relatively easy 2+ mile loop and the falls was maybe the nicest we’ve seen yet.

Crabtree Falls

After cleaning up in the typical no-showers head, we had breakfast and broke camp.

Next stop … Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 ft, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. We are now in the Black Mountains, a 15 mile spur off the mountains we’ve been in. The actual mountain is in a state park that you enter directly from the Parkway. We made the steep drive up and then the very short climb to the observation tower at the top. Mount Mitchell has long been a tourist Mecca and has had an observation tower for many years before it was taken as a park. The view wasn’t actually that great as the humidity has been building the past few days and the air is quite hazy.

Lookout Tower at Mount Mitchell
View From Mount Mitchell

We also did the short Balsam Trail near the peak. The forest here at this altitude is very different from any we’ve been in so far, being mostly red and Frasier firs, both in the balsam family. The forest smells great! Like too many areas along the Blue Ridge, many of the mature trees are dying. Though there are many stressors, emissions from burning fossil fuels are certainly a big contributor.

As a matter of course we stop at many overlooks and the Glassmine Falls overlook is just one of those many. There was no waterfall or peak to hike, but there was a gorgeous display of false Solomon’s seal in the woods next to a trail that led from the parking area. We’d intended to do a couple of short hikes at Craggy Gardens but there were thunderstorms in the area. We did stop at the Visitor Center there and watched as one of the storms passed over the ridge. It was quite a sight with falling rain and lightning visible for miles.

Thunderstorm Rolls Through Craggy Garden

We drove down the Parkway just south of Asheville to Lake Powhatan Campground in Mount Pisgah National Forest. We took showers (a rare find in public facilities along the Parkway) and headed out to do some grocery shopping along VA-191. Looking for a way out of cooking, we followed the recommendations of staff at the Ingles grocery store and stopped at the Apollo Flame Bistro. It was inexpensive, gave you large servings and the food was very tasty!