We had a perfect few days at my favorite WNC campground, Black Mountain Campground on the South Toe River, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the base of Mt Mitchell. It was just the right place to recover from the house full we had July 4th week. We were totally unplugged, just soaking in the peace, serenity, and beauty. Loved our riverfront spot, campsite #6.
I had a foot injury, so the 5 mi. hike from the campground up to Mt Mitchell was off the table until next time. Fortunately, there were so many easy level hikes right from our campsite that I was able to do. One of the most lush and beautiful places on earth, a mere 1/2 mi from our site, the 75ft Setrock Creek Falls is absolutely magical. We saw a red newt, who posed for closeups, then Nigel swam and played ball in the shallow water at the base, while Pippa hunted, and I protected the salamanders from her.
Later that day, we hiked from our campsite along the River Loop Trail through the fern and rhododendron forest along the gorgeous South Toe River. We stopped to play with the puppies in the water all along the way. The river is just icing on the beautiful campground and forest. It’s stunning. Saw fly fishermen, a family cooking out, and one group of swimmers, but mostly had it to ourselves. Highly recommend a Saturday-Monday stay if possible. The campground empties out first thing Sunday morning.
We opted to take the Parkway home rather than the Old Fort I-40 route, we’d driven in on. It was the right choice. When in doubt, take the Parkway. It always delivers! We made several overlook stops that took my breath away. The views never get old, no matter how many times we stop to see them. We drove up to the Mt Mitchell restaurant for breakfast, but sadly, were an hour early as they don’t open until 10:00, note to self, again. Waited last time, but couldn’t this time. Love being up there in the alpine forest though. Glad we drove into the park.
Continuing South, the highlight was the Craggy Gardens Visitors Center. When we arrived, it was clear with clouds down below in the valley. It was a cool 60 degrees with strong winds, making it really chilly. Wiley had a call and some work to do, so we stayed for a while. After a bit, the rapid moving clouds rolled in and over us so dramatically, I got out of the van and shot a video. You must watch it on my Facebook post. It was awesome!
Stopped in Asheville to get a tea. Couldn’t believe it when we got out of the van. Had to pull off my sweatshirt as it was 87 degrees, which was quite a shock after just having been 60 up on the Parkway. This is why we spend the majority of our summer traveling, camping, and hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway. The elevation and the temperatures are a dream. So grateful for this national treasure. Get there as fast as you can!