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Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Guide

Hiking

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.

Rock Climbing

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, and there are about 20 trails here (not generally maintained). It also offers fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Free backcountry camping permits 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, which also has a map of the Gorge. Blue Ridge Pkwy. MM 317, Nebo, NC, 28761. 828/652–2144. www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc.

Skiing

Roan Mountain. Off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Tennessee line and a part of the Pisgah National Forest, Roan Mountain is known for its rhododendron balds (mountaintops where no trees grow). 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." (It's technically a group of peaks ranging over some 5 miles, with elevations from 5,500 feet to near 6,300 feet.) About 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs along the ridge here. NC Hwy. 261, near Bakersville, Bakersville, NC, 28705. 828/682–6146 Pisgah Appalachian Ranger District, National Forest Service. www.nps.gov/blri.

Pineola Inn & Ski Shop. Tours and equipment are available from this inn; the rooms are close to many High Country ski areas. Pineola Inn, U.S. Hwy. 221, Pineola, NC, 28662. 828/733–2008 ski shop; 828/733–4979 inn. www.pineolainn.com.

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