Spring Break day 3 - Blue Ridge Parkway-2

Blowing Rock Travel Blog

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Flattop Manor

Today's leg on the Blue Ridge Parkway was WAY more relaxed. I only had to drive about 100 miles. Nothing compared to yesterday! I re-entered the parkway where I left it in the dark yesterday evening. The weather was unfortunately not on my side. Okay, it did not rain, but there were a lot of clouds and even worse, fog!

At milepost 294 the first event opened up. The Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. The park is named after the former owner of the estate, the textile magnate Moses Cone. Cone built a huge 23-room mansion Flattop Manor. The manor is still present and now owned by the National Park Service. It currently serves as a Craft Center. Unfortunately the fogginess prevented me from seeing the great views Mr.

Linn Cove Viaduct (behind boulder)
and Mrs. Cone should have had. Nice to know: several scenes of the movie, The Green Mile, were shot here!

The most special part of the Blue Ridge Parkway was encountered at mile 304.4. The section that starts here was the last of the parkway to be completed, in 1983. The northern and southern neighbor sections were already completed in 1960 and 1940! The reason for the delay of the last section was Grandfather Mountain. This mountain was privately owned and contains several specific boulder fields that would be destroyed by conventional road building techniques. The owner of the mountain did not allow a tunnel to be drilled, so the only solution for both finishing the parkway and keeping the unique boulder fields intact was a viaduct around them.

Linnville Falls

This became the Linn Cove Viaduct, the most complicated bridge ever built, a marvel of engineering which was rewarded with 12 design prizes. The 379-meter long (1243-ft) viaduct is nicely curved along Grandfathers South face. It cost 4 years and 10 million dollars to build it: $26385 per meter and 3.8 day per meter! The bridge was constructed almost completely from the parkway itself, starting in the south 153 prefab components were sunk in place, and supported by seven piers. Each component is unique in shape, only one of them is straight. This construction method did have an almost zero impact on the ecosystem. The only work on the ground was the building of the piers, the only trees cut were trees right under the projected bridge.

There is a hiking trail under the bridge.

Chestoa View, how it should be, and what I saw (upper photo: www.romanticasheville.com)
Hiking the trail is the best way to see how impact less the bridge is. You are hiking between the huge boulders, rhododendron bushes, lush nature, nice waterfalls, etc. You would not say there is a huge viaduct next or over you. The piers (and some incidental passing motor cycle groups above) are the only elements that give away the presence of a road. Still a pity that the viaduct was covered in mist and fog.

The next attraction was at milepost 316.3: Linville Falls. This is a system of four falls in the Linville River that altogether drops 46 meters (150 ft) into the Linville Cave. Two of the falls are right above each other and make the most spectacular section. The water plunges with great force into the gorge. It is said that the old Indians used these falls to execute prisoners.

View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
There are several easy hiking trails that lead to the top, as well as to the bottom, of the most impressive section. A nice 7.2-km (4.5-mile) hike.

The ultimate highlight (NOT!!!) of the day was without doubt Chestoa View! This viewpoint at an elevation of 1247 meters (4090 ft) is said to be the best of the whole parkway. Well, not for me! From the nice platform I looked at a thick wall of fog. Later, while writing this blog I found photos on the web that showed me what I should have seen, see combi photo below. When the parkway descended a bit further on I was fortunately able to get some impressions. 

The more southern I got the better the weather seemed to become. The small incidental holes in the fog were exchanged for a blue sky with incidental clouds.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, winding its way, as seen from from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint

The last activity of today was a small 2.2-km (1.4 mile) hike in the Craggy Gardens. This part of the mountains is covered with rhododendrons. The top of their bloom time is in June, but there were already quite a few purple flowers. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail goes right through the rhododendron bushed to a viewpoint. The hike is like walking through a tunnel, with the rhododendrons as the walls and ceiling. On the viewpoint I could see the "sky clean-up" in progress. The clouds were literally moving away, making more and more space for the blue sky.

I left the Parkway for my hotel nearby. More pictures and two videos below! Deze fake-tekst heb ik toegevoegd om net iets meer regels te genereren zodat deze rare website toestaat dat de bijgesloten foto ook vertoond wordt. Deze fake-tekst heb ik toegevoegd om net iets meer

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Flattop Manor
Flattop Manor
Linn Cove Viaduct (behind boulder)
Linn Cove Viaduct (behind boulder)
Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
Chestoa View, how it should be, an…
Chestoa View, how it should be, a…
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
The Blue Ridge Parkway, winding it…
The Blue Ridge Parkway, winding i…
Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct
Just below Linn Cove Viaduct
Just below Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct
Near Linn Cove Viaduct
Near Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct, disappearing in…
Linn Cove Viaduct, disappearing i…
Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct
Just below Linn Cove Viaduct
Just below Linn Cove Viaduct
Linn Cove Viaduct, model in Visito…
Linn Cove Viaduct, model in Visit…
Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
On trails near Linnville Falls
On trails near Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
Linnville Falls
The clouds are leaving, my view is…
The clouds are leaving, my view i…
The clouds are leaving, my view is…
The clouds are leaving, my view i…
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
View from Graggy Pinnacle viewpoint
Thododendrons on Graggy Pinnacle t…
Thododendrons on Graggy Pinnacle …
Along the Parkway: Look around an…
At the lower end of Linville Falls
Blowing Rock
photo by: vances