Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway  by Randy Johnson

Best Easy Day Hikes: Blue Ridge Parkway Guide Book

by Randy Johnson (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway  by Randy Johnson
Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway offers concise descriptions and detailed maps for thirty-four easy-to-follow trails from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

© 2017 Randy Johnson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Blue Ridge Parkway" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 33.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 33.

Abbott Lake is the centerpiece of the 4,200-acre Peaks of Otter Recreation Area, one of the Parkway’s most highly recommended places to spend a day or stop for the night. The Peaks of Otter Lodge, on the shore of Abbott Lake, is one of two concessionaire-operated accommodations on the Parkway. It’s open year-round for lodging and dining. One of the Parkway’s best lakeside strolls or cross-country ski tours circles Abbott Lake at the Peaks of Otter. This is the only paved, fully ADA-accessible trail on the Parkway in Virginia. This is also one of two Peaks of Otter TRACK Trail interpretive paths.
Bedford, VA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 1-1.7 miles
The Balsam Nature Trail is a self-guided interpretive trail that explores the spruce/fir forest and deforestation caused by insect pests and pollution. Mount Mitchell—the highest peak east of the Mississippi—is a crowning part of the Blue Ridge Parkway experience. The nearly 5,000-acre Mount Mitchell State Park—North Carolina’s first state park—clings to the highest peak of the Black Mountains and dominates the western skyline of North Carolina.
Burnsville, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
This hike is a circumambulation of Moses Cone Park’s prettiest lake. This is an easy, extremely scenic loop that, although unpaved, might be suitable for wheelchairs in dry weather. The Bass Lake Loop is easiest from the lakeshore parking area below US 221.
Blowing Rock, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8-1.6 miles
A short and popular leg-stretcher affords spectacular views of Grandfather Mountain and its nearly vertical-mile drop to the Piedmont. The grades are gradual, the footing isn’t very difficult, and the views are outstanding.
Linville, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7
A largely graded trail makes a pleasant walk from the Pisgah Inn to the site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring Hunting Lodge. This pleasant path is a perfect place for an aimless amble, particularly for lodge or campground guests. This pleasant path is a perfect place for an aimless amble, particularly for lodge or campground guests. The Buck Spring Trail is predominately used as an untaxing walk to the site of Vanderbilt’s hunting lodge for people starting from the Pisgah Inn.
Canton, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6-3.1 miles
One of the Parkway’s best interpretive nature trails leads to a wonderful waterfall. This trail offers a great sense of the ecological community that teeters on the escarpment of the Blue Ridge. The path wanders the crest of cliffs overlooking the Piedmont and brings hikers to Falls Creek just as a waterfall leaps over the edge. The trail then swings back from the brink along the stream as it tumbles through a quiet valley toward the falls.
Purlear, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
One of the South’s best waterfall walks also has barrier-free access. This Crabtree Falls isn’t the last cataract you’ll encounter with that name while driving south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This Virginia hike is in George Washington National Forest. The second is actually a Blue Ridge Parkway trail—a strenuous 2.5-mile hike in North Carolina at Milepost 339.5. This Crabtree Falls isn’t the last cataract you’ll encounter with that name while driving south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This Virginia hike is in George Washington National Forest. The second is actually a Blue Ridge Parkway trail—a strenuous 2.5-mile hike in North Carolina at Milepost 339.5.
Tyro, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6-6 miles
Great views from spectacular mountaintop balds recommend two Craggy Gardens hikes of different lengths. The Craggy Gardens Trail rises into the woods and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes right at 0.1 mile. Beyond, the path climbs gradually through a marvelously cylindrical rhododendron tunnel. This first section of the hike is a self-guiding nature trail, with resting benches and signs identifying plants.
Black Mountain, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8-1.2 miles
Enjoy one of the Parkway’s most inspiring 360-degree views from atop mysterious mountaintop meadows. Any Parkway motorist will likely agree that the Craggy Mountains' seemingly alpine, treeless environment represents some of the high road's most dramatic scenery. These balds are among the most unique ecosystems in the Southern Appalachians. The late-bloom of rhododendron across the balds is one of the Southern Appalachians' premier natural events. Theories about the balds speculate that fires claimed the trees and made the soil unsuitable for immediate reforestation.
Barnardsville, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4 miles
Enjoy an easy amble to a classic stone picnic shelter atop Cumberland Knob, the spot where Parkway construction started. A nearby wheelchair-accessible path affords a nice view.
Lowgap, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5-0.7 mile
Three trails on the visitor center side of the river make the most scenic, least visited hike to Linville Falls. There are three trails on the visitor center side of the river, two of which make a nice 2.0-mile hike when combined, but a scenic stroll is also possible. All start at about 3,200 feet.
Linville Falls, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.25-1.8 miles
This intriguingly designed trail explores a Northern-type forest that characterizes the 3,500-acre Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, one of the Parkway’s best places to pause. On this interpretive trail, hikers walk away with a sense of the local woods and Moses Cone (1857–1908), the industrialist whose estate became part of the Parkway. This very easy hike should be your first walk in Moses Cone Park. Even if you’re not the artsy type, at least briefly explore the craft center in the Manor House (or save it for later) and take in Mr. and Mrs. Cone’s favorite path, the one they shared with guests. It gives a real sense of their world—often in the evocative wording of plaques that introduce you to the forest and the culture of the mountaineers who were the couple’s neighbors.
Blowing Rock, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7
This educational trail has good distant views of noteworthy nearby summits. Here’s a rare hike—one not to miss for serious hikers and more casual Parkway motorists alike. This is a quick walk to a good view or a wonderful hour-plus stroll for a family wanting nature study or a picnic. Not far above the parking area, where the trail loop splits, head left amid yellow jewelweed. Interpretive signs point out tree species and the shiny heart-shaped leaves of galax on the ground under the rhododendron. After passing a resting bench, step onto the quartzite outcrop of Flat Rock.
Linville, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.7
A loop hike reaches a spectacular waterfall and explores a high, alpinelike valley, while an out-and-back route bags an awesome bald summit. As you drive south out of Asheville and climb past Mount Pisgah, the Shining Rock Wilderness can’t help but catch your attention. The horizon peels back on an almost Western scale, and meadow-covered mountaintops march off to meet summits cloaked in evergreens and accented by milk-white crags of quartz—the area’s namesake “shining rocks.” The Graveyard Fields Trail explores a scenic valley just below these summits. Hikes on the well-maintained but heavily traveled Graveyard Fields Loop can range from a short out-and-back hike to a full-length streamside loop, with or without scenic water-falls. Though this lofty area—the trailhead is at 5,100 feet and the high point 5,400 feet—never gets very warm, the pool below Second Falls is a great summer spot to cool off.
Canton, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8-2.3 miles
Take this 20-minute self-guiding loop trail to learn about the geology of the northern Blue Ridge and see how mountaineers used their most abundant resource—rock—to wrest a living from harsh surroundings. This engaging, self-guiding interpretive trail explains the natural setting and alerts you to the telltale signs of human habitation that are a stirring subtext to the Parkway experience. The Mountain Farm Trail’s extensive living-history exhibits re-create the picturesque side of the rustic Appalachian lifestyle. The Greenstone Trail imparts an anthropologist’s insight into how to detect the evidence of a former mountain farm.
Lyndhurst, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.2
A pleasant walk across a scenic river bridge leads to a self-guiding interpretive exhibit at a canal lock built in the mid-1800s. The James River Trail crosses the impressive pedestrian span beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge. Descend the steps on the west side of the river and go left across the grassy riverside meadow to Battery Creek Lock. Built in 1848 and used between 1851 and 1880 on the James River and Kanawha Canal, the lock lifted and lowered boats around part of the river’s 13 feet of drop from nearby Buchanan, a Shenandoah Valley town and western terminus of the canal.
Monroe, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4 -.05 mile
These scenic, short-to-moderate–length, interpretive trails impart a real sense of how Southern Appalachian mountaineers lived. A 3.9-mile outer loop of the Johnson Farm and Harkening Hill Trails rolls the human and natural history of the area into one wonderful walk. The Harkening Hill, Johnson Farm, and Elk Run Interpretive Loop Trails are interconnected, which creates an interesting situation: You can be on a section of two different hikes at once. All hikes are best started from the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center. Together or separately, they offer insight into the lifestyle of Southern Appalachian mountaineers. By the 1930s, a community of more than twenty self-reliant families populated this high valley under Sharp Top, including the last of the Johnson family, for whom the Johnson Farm Trail is named.
Bedford, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8-3.9 miles
A wheelchair-accessible paved path leads under the stunning span of the Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct and then continues as a rougher trail through beautiful Linn Cove. The turnaround point is a classic postcard view of the viaduct. The easiest walk to a view of the Linn Cove Viaduct begins at the Linn Cove Visitor Center, just north of 304. A paved and barrier-free trail winds nearly 0.2 mile from the end of the parking lot opposite the station to a viewpoint underneath the serpentine Linn Cove Viaduct. The next easiest walk lies just beyond.
Linville, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.3-1 mile
A variety of options explore virgin forest and rugged scenery near Linville Falls, an impressive cataract that plunges into the Linville Gorge Wilderness. A detour to the short, inspiring Wiseman’s View Trail is recommended from the alternative trailhead.
Linville Falls, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1-2 miles
This trail offers an eye-opening glimpse into the rustic lives led by nineteenth-century Appalachian mountaineers who lived near what is now the Parkway.
Lyndhurst, VA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5