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National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters. More than 100 trails lead off the Blue Ridge Parkway, from easy strolls to strenuous hikes. For more information on parkway trails, visit or contact the National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters office at MM 384 near Asheville. Another good source is Walking the Blue Ridge: A Guide to the Trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Leonard Adkins, available at most Parkway visitor-center gift shops. Blue Ridge Pkwy., MM 384, Asheville, NC, 28803. 828/298-0398 Parkway information line; 828/271-4779 Parkway HQ office. www.nps.gov/blri.
Figure 8 Trail. Moses H. Cone Park's (MM 292.7) Figure 8 Trail is an easy and beautiful trail that the Cone family designed for their morning walks. The ½-mi loop winds through a tunnel of rhododendrons and a hardwood forest. Blue Ridge Pkwy., MM 292.7, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605. www.nps.gov/blri.
Waterrock Knob Trail. Those who tackle the strenuous ½-mi Waterrock Knob Trail (MM 451.2), near the south end of the Parkway, will be rewarded with spectacular views from the 6,300-foot-high Waterrock Knob summit, the highest peak in the Plott Balsams range. Blue Ridge Pkwy., MM 451.2, 18 mi from south end of Parkway, NC. www.nps.gov/blri.
Linville Gorge. One of the most challenging climbs in the country is the Linville Gorge, often called "the Grand Canyon of North Carolina." The Gorge is part of a 12,000-acre federal wilderness area in the Pisgah National Forest. About 20 trails (not generally maintained) are in the wilderness area. It also offers fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Backcountry camping permits (free) are required for weekends and holidays May-October, limited to no more than two nights. They are available from the Grandfather Mountain district forest ranger's office in Nebo. Also get an official map of the Gorge from this office. Blue Ridge Pkwy., MM 317, Nebo, NC, 28761. 828/652-2144. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc.
Moses H. Cone Park. This park is known for its cross-country skiing trails. Blue Ridge Pkwy., MM 294, 2 mi from Blowing Rock, Blowing Rock, NC, 28605. 828/271-4779 Parkway headquarters; 828/298-0398 Parkway information line. www.nps.gov/blri.
Roan Mountain. Off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Tennessee line and a part of the Pisgah National Forest, Roan Mountain is technically a group of peaks ranging over some 5 mi, with elevations from 5,500 ft to near 6,300 ft. It is known for its rhododendron balds. Though the access road is closed in winter, you can ski cross country in an area famous for its deep powder. Dr. Elisha Mitchell, after whom Mt. Mitchell is named, called Roan Mountain the "most beautiful of all the high mountains." About 10 mi of the Appalachian Trail runs along the ridge here. NC Hwy. 261, near Bakersville, Bakersville, NC, 28705. 828/682-6146 Appalachian Ranger District, National Foress Service. www.nps.gov/blri.
Pineola Inn & Ski Shop. Tours and equipment are available from Pineolo Inn & Ski Shop in Pineola on U.S. 221. The associated Pineola Inn has low-cost motel accommodations near many High Country ski areas. U.S. Hwy. 221, Pineola, NC, 28662. 828/733-4979. www.pineolainn.com.
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