Monday, June 9, 2014
The Linn Cove Viaduct and Rough Ridge
This report covers my hiking in the vicinity of Grandfather Mountain, proclaimed to be the highest mountain on the Blue Ridge. The vision of connecting Great Smoky Mountain National Park with Shenandoah National Park with a National Parkway along the Blue Ridge, conceived in the 1930's, became a reality in 1987 with the completion of the Linn Cove Viaduct - a piece of highway engineering that was not possible in the days when the CCC construction crews built most of the rest of the roadway. In addition to the road, the NPS built some interesting and very rugged foot trail to give the hiker a good look at the Viaduct from above and below -
- and from a first class viewpoint on a rock outcrop they called Rough Ridge (see photo up top).
The trail is called the Tanawha Trail, and its full length runs from near Beacon Heights to the campground at Julian Price Memorial Park, though both ends of it seem to have suffered neglect due to recent budget problems. A mile of the Tanawha Trail in the vicinity of Linn Cove viaduct goes through a boulder field, and another mile of it from the Rough Ridge parking area up to the viewpoint is extremely steep and, in places, deeply eroded. Both these bits of trail are very reminiscent of the trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, except that in the middle of Rough Ridge the park service built an elaborate section of boardwalk.
As you can see, I had a perfect day for getting those 'money shots' and for taking in the views.
I also ran across a few more exceptionally showy mountain wildflowers, none of which I've had time to identify.
This report also covers yesterday's hike, when the weather was foggy and damp and drizzly through the morning. But even in such conditions, this field full of sunny buttercups was there to brighten the mood.
At the end of today I hiked down from Beacon Heights through Linville and on to the little town of Montezuma. The goal: to complete the connection of what I call my Personal Continuous Footpath (PCF) from my Topsail Island home to the Appalachian Trail. My PCF is a long-term pet project to connect every place I've ever called home by walking between them, and I'm using my Appalachian Trail thru-hike as the spine of that connecting path. I've already done the walk from the AT to all the places I've lived in Maryland and Delaware including to my ultimate residence at a family cemetery burial plot. Once I've made the connection to my new Topsail residence, all I'll have left are three major legs - to State College, PA via parts of the C&O Canal Towpath, the Tuscarora Trail and the Mid-State Trail, to Wisconsin where I was born, and to Colorado where I went to graduate school - using parts of the American Discovery Trail and other trails.
Best of all, this connection I'll be making to the AT inserts me at my overall favorite Appalachian Trail location - the Roan High Balds (my previous blog report - this link - is among the most viewed on this blog).
As you can tell, my previous visit was in winter - February 2012. Stay tuned as I revisit these distinctive high wild places in an entirely different season.
Here's a map of the combined hikes from yesterday and today, with link to lots more photos:
Linn Cove Viaduct and Rough Ridge at EveryTrail
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