Earlier this week I shared the first delicious details of our recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina. While we certainly ate our way through Asheville, we did find time for a few non-food adventures. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is located on the Blue Ridge mountain chain. The Blue Ridge Parkway is an All-American Roadway that runs through the chain and provides spectacular views and hiking opportunities. I’m not a hiker, per se, but there are a multitude of breathtaking waterfalls tucked into the mountains, and I was willing to hike a reasonable distance to see the water.
We chose Skinny Dip Falls, at random, and pointed the car towards the hills. Blue Ridge Parkway is a two-lane road. One lane each direction. A large portion of the drive is, as you would imagine, on the side of a mountain. It took a little while to acclimate, and lose the fear of flying off a cliff, but it was soon smooth sailing. There are an abundance of pull-off/parking areas in which to stop, take in the spectacular views and breath in the mountain air.
Our first stop was Walnut Creek Overlook.
It was during this stop that we had our first friendly encounter. Two gentlemen who were biking the parkway (that’s intense!) moved my focus from the distant rolling hills to a bit of nature much closer by. There was a groundhog hanging out, clearly not intimidated by humans, and looking for lunch. He was the best.
After taking about one hundred pictures of Mr. Groundhog, we got back in the car and worked our way towards the stop for Skinny Dip Falls. Stopped a few more times en route and took some more photos.
As we neared Milepost 417 we saw an SUV pulled to the left of the road, at the entrance of what looked like a trail. We drove just a few yards further and parked at Looking Glass Rock Overlook. There were people we guessed to be returning from the falls, judging by their swimsuits and soaking wet appearance, and other people loading up towels and heading into the trees. We changed shoes, decided which lens to bring with the camera and wandered across the roadway.
We saw an entry point, with a marker, but no longer saw the SUV. We headed forth anyhow. Later, we learned that there are actually two entry points with well-worn trails. One leads to the bottom of the falls, where swimming would be an option. That’s where the SUV had been. The other trail leads towards much higher portions of the falls. Beautiful, but probably not a good idea for swimming. Although we had no intention of swimming, we were expecting to see the bottom of the falls. We inadvertently took the trail to the top.
It had been raining, off and on, all afternoon, so our trek was slippery and a little slow. However, as we walked we soon began to hear the falls. In fact, long before we found them. When we did come upon the falls, we continued up alongside them for some distance, until the path became too overgrown and tricky to navigate. Worth the effort.
We returned to the car slightly damper, courtesy of both sweat and continued intermittent showers, and began thinking about dinner. (It’s what we do) We stopped one more time on our way back down the mountain…
…and then drove off into the clouds.