Spring Break day 4 - Blue Ridge Parkway-3

Candler Travel Blog

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Looking at Mount Pisgah from the parking at mile marker 408

Today would be used for the last leg of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and for crossing Great Smoky Mountains National Park to get to Maryville in Tennessee. A lot to do in little time.

After the very basic free breakfast that my hotel provided I fed the Mazda a few gallons of the expensive North Carolina gas, leaving space for the much cheaper Tennessee fuel. I discovered that I mis planned my parkway exit yesterday evening. There was one much closer to the hotel. Since I did not want to skip a few miles I drove back to Asheville and re-entered the beautiful parkway where I left it last night.

At an entry altitude of 645 meters (2116 ft) the road started ascending immediately, negotiating 872 meters (2861 ft) in 24 kilometers (15 miles). That was needed since today I would pass the highest point of the parkway.

View from Devil's Courthouse (milepost 422)
But first I had to climb myself. At mile marker 408.6 I stopped at Mount Pisgah. This 1744-m (5721-ft) high mountain was once called Elseetoss, by the Cherokee Indians that lived in this area before the European settlers came. Mount Pisgah houses a television tower at its summit, not pretty, but handy for navigation! The 4.1-km (2.6-mile) hike that negotiates about 200 meters (656 ft) was nice but not overly spectacular.

At mile marker 422.4 I planned to have lunch on a viewpoint of Devil's Courthouse, a 1743-m (5,720-ft) high particular rock that towers over the parkway. Just when I wanted to head to the only pick nick table available on the parking a big pickup truck with an elderly couple stopped.

The great Mazda brought me to the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway, (1845 m at milepost 431)
They clearly had the same aim as I did. I decided they could have the table and I just headed for the 0.75-km (0.5-mile) one-way trail that leads to the courthouse. If I could not have a quiet lunch downstairs, then I should have it upstairs. It took me 15 minutes to get there and this place was much better for lunch! Great views!

At mile marker 431 I reached the highest point of the parkway: 1843 meters (6047 ft) according to the NPS park map and 1845 meters (6053 ft) according to a sign by the NPS. Confusing!

After the highest point the road plunges about 750 meters (2460 ft) followed by a steep ascend of approx. 640 meters (2100 ft) to milepost 451 at Waterrock Knob. Waterrock Knob is, with 1918 meters (6292 ft) the 16th highest mountain in the eastern USA.

View from Waterrock Knob (trailhead at mile marker 451)
Since it was not too late I decided to visit the summit as well which can be access by nice but steep trail. So, I ended up breaking the elevation record the Mazda just set.

Then the big descend to the end of the parkway began. I had had almost the whole parkway for myself, but during the past part it was, all of a sudden, very crowded with drivers driving really snailish. At 3:45 pm I arrived at the intersection with Route 441, the end of the parkway and the start of Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

755 kilometers (469 miles) of scenic road: the same distance as from Utrecht (NL) to e.g.: Aberdeen (UK), Stavanger (N), Skagen (DK), more than Prague (CZ), more than Innsbruck (AU), Como (IT), Limoges (F), Camborne (UK), the Mazda had done a great job!

More pictures below!

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Looking at Mount Pisgah from the p…
Looking at Mount Pisgah from the …
View from Devils Courthouse (mile…
View from Devil's Courthouse (mil…
The great Mazda brought me to the …
The great Mazda brought me to the…
View from Waterrock Knob (trailhea…
View from Waterrock Knob (trailhe…
For somebody who has to take the s…
For somebody who has to take the …
View on the Blue Ridge Parkway fro…
View on the Blue Ridge Parkway fr…
The TV tower at the summit of Moun…
The TV tower at the summit of Mou…
The TV tower at the summit of Moun…
The TV tower at the summit of Mou…
Looking at Mount Pisgah from the p…
Looking at Mount Pisgah from the …
At some points the Blue Ridge Park…
At some points the Blue Ridge Par…
View on Blue Ridge Parkway, from W…
View on Blue Ridge Parkway, from …
Some great rock formations along t…
Some great rock formations along …
The last viewpoint to be visited
The last viewpoint to be visited
At milepost 469, the end of the Bl…
At milepost 469, the end of the B…
The GPS Height Profile for todays…
The GPS Height Profile for today'…
Candler
photo by: mdalamers