Hiking Near Parkway Peek Can Improve Health
We recently read an article that supported what we've known all along: "spending time in nature decreases obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin...and can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being." That's one of the reasons we purchased Parkway Peek back in 2011. We LOVE being away from all of the distractions of everyday, urban life and exploring the hundreds of trails in our area. Here are just a few of our favorites (sorted by drive-time) that you'll want to visit during your next stay at Parkway Peek:
The Altapass Orchard – 10min – located just off the BRP at MM328; multiple easy trails through the beautiful orchards with lengths up to 2miles (loop).
Riverside Park – 10min – downtown Spruce Pine on the North Toe River, beach area for swimming, fishing or picnicking; paved trails along the river and playground for kids.
Chestoa Overlook – 10min – located at MM320 on BRP; very flat, easy loop with great views of Table Rock mountain across the gorge.
Linville Gorge Wilderness Area – 20-45min – multiple, longer, more strenuous trails for the more experienced hikers; includes Table Rock & Hawksbill mountains across the gorge.
Grassy Creek Falls – 20min – just off the BRP at Little Switzerland; moderate 2mile (r/t) hike to these beautiful, little-known falls.
Crabtree Falls – 30min – MM 339 on BRP, moderate 1mile (each way) hike to the falls; the full loop hike 2.5miles and is more strenuous than the out-and-back.
Upper Creek Falls – 30min – gorgeous falls just off NC181; moderate hike with multiple swimming holes and natural waterslide from THE LOWER FALLS ONLY; do not climb onto rocks at the upper falls.
Wilson Creek Wilderness Area – 30-45min – multiple trails of varying lengths; several beautiful falls & swimming holes all located of Forest Service Road 464 (long, gravel road).
Flat Rock Loop – 30min – MM308 on BRP, easy ¾ mile loop with outstanding views from rock outcroppings.
Beacon Heights – 35min – MM305 on BRP, moderate 2mile (r/t) hike with incredible views from rocky top.
Linn Cove Viaduct – 40min – at MM 304 on the BRP, this is the iconic bridge featured in all BRP publications; park at the Visitors Center to access trailheads in either direction, including the Mountains-to-Sea trail in either direction (trails are moderate to strenuous).
Grandfather Mountain – 45min – the park requires an entrance fee of $22 per adult (discounts for seniors & kids) and features mile-high swinging bridge, wild-life habitats, museum and multiple trails of varying distance/skill level; free access via the Profile Trail (very difficult) but hikers must complete & carry a permit with them.
Moses Cone Manor – 50min – MM294 on BRP, this historic property features a museum/art gallery, home tour & easy trails.
Roaring Creek Falls – 45-50min – just off NC80, this easy 2mile (r/t) hike will take you past some historic buildings to a beautiful waterfall.
Mount Mitchell – 45-50min – MM355 off BRP, this is the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi River at 6684ft; no fee to use the trails, which vary in distance and skill level.
Elk River Falls – 45-50min - off NC194, easy hike to this beautiful waterfall; huge swimming hole at the base BUT DO NOT JUMP from the top and don't swim during high/swift water conditions; many people have died here and you will see others jumping; DON’T DO IT!!!
Catawba Falls – 50min – off I-40, easy 2mile (r/t) hike through lush forest and building relics to the falls; very nice swimming hole at the base of the falls.
Lost Cove Colony – 50min – this is a very strenuous 5mile (r/t) hike to an old moonshining, ghost town with lots of historic relics; worth the effort, but be sure to build in time for the climb back up.