Durham, N.C. — The mountains are my happy place, and I love to head west as many weekends as I can. My husband, Will, grew up going to the North Carolina mountains regularly, and he has furthered my love of hiking. Long before social distancing was a thing, we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of being out in nature, with few other people around. Now that is especially true!
I often share photos from my hikes on my Instagram account (@WRALSarah). A number of people have reached out to me about my favorite spots. So, I wanted to share those with you!
This North Carolina icon is well-known. While many visitors enjoy the Swinging Bridge, there are also lots of great hikes on the mountain that can be accessed either from the Swinging Bridge parking lot, or from the Blue Ridge Parkway. While Grandfather Mountain charges an entry fee (and now requires reservations due to COVD-19), if you hike up from the Parkway side, you don’t have to worry about any fees or time slots.
Recently, my husband and I hiked up the Daniel Boone Scout Trail to Calloway Peak, then on to MacRae Peak, and finally down the Grandfather Trail (where we were lucky to hitch a ride from a family member). This is a very strenuous hike that is not for the faint of heart! It includes ladders, ropes, scrambling and rough terrain – but stunning views. The hike was roughly six miles, and took us several hours to complete. If you’re up for a challenge, I can’t recommend this hike highly enough!
If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike, I recommend driving to the top of Grandfather and doing the Black Rock Trail. It is much shorter, but still boasts incredible views.
Short hikes accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway
This hike is great for those who do not want a challenging hike, but do want amazing scenery. This short 15-minute hike leads you to some of the best views around!
The large, flat rock face is perfect for picnics or…a quick nap.
During our last trip to the mountains, my husband and I decided to drive along the Parkway and stop at whatever parking lot looked the least crowded. And that’s how we found Flat Rock! Like Beacon Heights, this trail gets you bang for your buck. It’s a leisurely, short hike with expansive views, and plenty of places to have a picnic.
I’ll be heading back to the mountains soon, and I am always looking for new trails. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them! You can email me at email@example.com or find me on Twitter and Instagram: @WRALSarah.