Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 6, 2015 - Blue Ridge Parkway and NC215 area

We had 2 hikes in mind for today - the first was the Mountains to Sea Trail north from 215, then the MST south to the view of Mount Hardy Falls. Our route was again up US276 north from Brevard to the Parkway, then the BRP south to 215. The color up 276 is picking up a bit, but hasn't changed much in the past few days. Driving by Looking Glass Falls, we could see that water levels had dropped and was getting back to more normal. Once on the Parkway, fall color has picked up in the last few days and there were a few more 'ooo's and ahhh's', but the main color is still mostly green. The first stop was right before Graveyard Fields at the East Fork Overlook where the color has really improved - especially looking towards Graveyard Fields. Of course we had to stop at the view of Second Falls also. I snapped a few shots even though the light wasn't that good, but we stopped again on the way home and the picture below is from then.

view from East Fork Overlook
Second Falls overview - again

Our next stop was the parking area for the Mountains to Sea Trail on 215 north. It's on the left about 1/2 mile down from the Parkway. Cindy and I were on the trail earlier this year and wanted to come back to check the fall color view. About a half hour's hike in on the trail heading north is a big rock face and a nice view of the area looking back towards the Parkway. If you go, hike by the base of the rock and on up to a faint trail on the right that leads a short distance to the view. You have to be very careful getting out on the rock for the good view. There was water running down the face where we wanted to get, so we only got shots from the edge of the woods. The color wasn't as bright as we had hoped, but here's one anyway.

view from the MST

We could see towards Mount Hardy and could see the color wasn't anything special, so we abandoned the plan to hike up there and began discussing a plan B which turned out to be just winging it. Our next stop turned out to be also on 215, but south of the Parkway. If you go a short distance there's a big gravel pull off area on the left at the rock wall and a nice view looking towards Devil's Courthouse.

view of Devil's Courthouse from NC215

From here we headed back up to the Parkway and to Balsam Road to see if we felt like taking a trail in that area. The color really wasn't that spectacular, so we both decided on heading back down 276 towards home any maybe hit a waterfall on the way down. We did stop at a couple of views along the way and you can see how the color is progressing off of the Parkway. The ridge tops usually begin turning first, but there are patches of color mixed in between.

view from the BRP near Devil's Courthouse

view of Looking Glass Rock

On the way up 276 this morning, we could see that FR1206 (Yellow Gap Rd) was closed, but they had it reopened on the way back down. Cindy had suggested that we stop by Log Hollow Falls, so that's where we were heading. FR475B was open on this end and we didn't have any problems getting to the falls. Instead of taking it all the way to the fish hatchery after the hike, we backtracked to 276, but went up 475 to make sure the gate was open on this end of 475B. It was closed this morning, but had also reopened, so Slick Rock Falls is now accessible.

Log Hollow Falls

Our next outing will be on Thursday up to the Rough Ridge area of the BRP near Grandfather Mountain!


  1. Nice! Still waiting for retirement. It's looming. Can't wait to get outdoors any time I feel like it with no time pressure to return.

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