August 27, 2012

Asheville, NC – Day 4

Filed under: food,travel — Frederick Noble @ 1:35 pm Share RSS

We considered various in-town options for breakfast but we wanted to get on the road so instead we headed south and stopped at Filo, a cute little bakery and coffee shop on the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Is it any wonder my pants are a bit snug after this trip?
Filo

We were barely on the parkway when we stopped to gawk at a view – layer upon layer of mountains fading into the distance – when some vultures flew down for a visit. Sorry, guys, I’m not there yet.

vultures

butterflyWe stopped at the folk art museum and ogled some amazing furniture, boring quilts, interesting clothing and educational displays on the building of the Parkway. Alas, no photography is allowed, which is silly because if you’re not reading this review and just glancing and the pretty pictures you won’t realize the place is worth a stop for their clean bathrooms and impressive gift shop alone. (And it’s about the only non-hike/view roadside attraction in bottom half of the Parkway.) Instead, you get this pretty butterfly. The monarchs were everywhere.

On a pretty day the only annoyance on the Parkway is that you’re not sure if the next overlook is the one to stop at or if a quarter mile up you’ll get the same view only better. I took shots of the Stone-Mountain-like Looking Glass Rock for miles from many angles as the road wound around the valley.

Looking Glass Rock

fallsWe rounded another bend and spotted a waterfall on a neighboring mountain. About the time I finished saying, “Wow. That’s pretty close. I wonder if there’s  a trail to it?” we reached the parking lot for the trail head. The place was crowded with families even on a weekday, but it was one of many short hikes that were definitely worth the trek.

Butterflies lapped at the edges of pools where water had worn through layers of rock until the surface resembled wood grain – lovely.

falls

Another impressive hunk of rock – Devil’s Courthouse.

Devil's CourthouseA short from the parking lot takes you to observation deck atop the rock where bronze plaques tell you what you’re looking at. Personally, I think they should read, “Holy shit, don’t look at this plaque, look at that view!”

Devils Courthouse

Our guide book had mentioned that the views on the southern leg of Blue Ridge Parkway were perhaps better than the northern end. I’m sure the cloudy weather on our previous day trip had obscured plenty of amazing views but even when we had hit clear patches up north, the views in the southern end seemed more… panoramic. When we returned and I started writing these reviews, I stitched together a single panoramic shot for each day – until I got to this leg of the trip and couldn’t stop putting them together. There’s just so much to see and pictures don’t do it justice. But I figured you’d only want the best of the lot so here it is. (Note: some browsers automatically resize the image. Put your cursor over the photo and zoom in for the full panoramic effect.)

6053

The highest point east of the Mississippi is Mount Mitchell. However, that is in a small state park encircled by Blue Ridge Parkway. The highest point in the park and on the road is on the southern end of the park. The view from the parking lot is, of course, amazing. Instead, you get more butterflies.

butterflies

The next overlook/parking lot features a short trail leading to the highest point in the park, Richard Balsam Mountain at 6,410 feet. Disappointingly, there isn’t a view at all from the actual peak. But there is a clearing along the path that makes for the perfect picnic spot.

Richard BalsamShould you get tired of blue ridges fading into the sky, there’s plenty of color in the form of local flora.flora

shroomin

The southern end of the parkway turns west and doesn’t offer quite as much to look at, but I couldn’t remember driving all the way to the Smoky Mountains along that route so we continued to the end of the park, landing in Cherokee, NC. Unless tacky trinket shops with Native American themes are your thing, Cherokee doesn’t offer much at first glance. Alas, we were homeward bound so we didn’t give it a second chance.

I’d been to the Dillard House in Dillard, GA, for breakfast once some 20 years ago and had fond memories of their salty country ham so, though we weren’t nearly hungry enough for their family-style spread, we stopped in for a late lunch. Too. Much. Food.

Dillard House

However, you can take one To Go box per person so order refills of your favorites and then ask for the box.

We swung by Tallulah Gorge but didn’t have time to give it a proper look. Next time that’s on the To Do list, perhaps en route to the Smokies.

More:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

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