Saturday, April 5, 2014

ROUGH RIDGE on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway

If you travel north on the Blue Ridge Parkway and cross the Linn Cove Viaduct, you will encounter an overlook just past the 303 milepost without a sign...and a parking lot full of will have found the trail head to Rough Ridge.

This popular trail offers the best view to effort ratio of any trail we have ever hiked.  It is a short trail, only 1.5 miles out and back,  but offers spectacular views, great rock scrambling and a pretty fair workout too. 

Not far from the parking lot is a nice bridge over a mountain creek and waterfall....the trail is rocky and well worn but rather narrow.  This trail soon intersects with the Tanawha Trail...take a left toward Linn Cove and you will soon find the boardwalk of Rough Ridge.

The Rough Ridge Trail has three distinct overlook areas.  The first is the Boardwalk which is about a quarter of a mile from the parking lot.  The Forest Service has constructed a nice wooden boardwalk over protected vegetation complete with nice benches leaving access to a large rock cliff for the first of many panoramic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.  

You get the first views of the Linn Cove Viaduct and Calloway Peak of Grandfather Mountain as well as the distant Table Rock Mountain

From the Boardwalk you can also see the next two overlooks some 500 feet up a pretty steep and rocky trail.

You got to love those trails where you can see where you are going as well as where you have been.

The trail is narrow and rocky as well as steep.  Because this trail is so sociable we had plenty of opportunity to catch our breath as we allowed folks coming down the trail room to pass.  In another quarter mile we arrived at the next overlook a very popular rock cliff.  Not wanting to wait for a spot, we scampered up some rocks above this cliff and got just as good a view without having to be sociable.

From this vantage point we had a 180 degree view of the world and a chance to catch the first rays of the spring as well as snapping some neat pics of the glory of the Blue Ridge that surrounded us.

The Linn Cove Viaduct is an engineering gift to the mountain.  It skirts the mountain and provides vehicle traffic with a unique driving experience. 
This peak is on our summer bucket list.  We are hoping to hike the Daniel Boone Scout trail to the summit as soon as we get in a little better know how Fat Bald White Guys like to eat in the winter time!

The best view may well have been to the southeast toward Blowing Rock.  Look closely and you can see our peeps on the Boardwalk taking pictures of the nice young couple posing on the rock cliff.

The trail to the summit of Rough Ridge did not seem quite as steep.  The trail is surrounded by rhodies but spring blossoms are a least a month away.  Though the temp was in the upper 40's we were very comfortable hiking without a coat.  Very little wind and a warm sun made all the difference.

When we arrived at the summit rock, we found it to be occupied by four college kids.   So what is a Fat Bald White Guy to do but become sociable....turns out that among the four, one was a fellow Wolfpacker!   Katie, Alex, Tyler and Matt are from Cary and have been friends for some time.  Great folks who got a laugh when I handed them my Hiking with a Fat Bald White Guy card and asked if I could make them famous by putting their pic in my blog. 

Yep that mountain top is calling and the FBWG has got to climb that peak.  As good as the view is from the summit of Rough Ridge, I can only imagine the magnificent view that awaits us....but that will have to wait another day.  Leaving the summit we spied some other rock cliffs we wanted to explore, so we followed the Tanawha Trail off the summit.  We got to do some nice rock scrambling for the effort.  At the first of the cliffs, caught our fellow Wolfpacker, Katie, giving us a "thumbs up".

We were drawn to a split rock formation.  Hearing the voices of young people above us, we figured that if they could climb to the top so could the Fat Bald White Guy and his Hiking Companion. 

Getting to the top proved pretty easy...mainly because some teenage girls showed us the trail but even the Fat Bald White Guy needs help every now and then.   When we got to the top we found ourselves alone for the first time and we stretched out and caught some rays!  We also got some nice pics too.

Climbing down from the top of the rock formation I was intrigued about climbing to the top of the other rock.  But Fat Bald White guys are not as limber as most folks and I thought better of trying to make such a climb...then a young man showed up....a wirey fellow.  Saying that it was an easy rock to climb, he promptly made like Spiderman and was soon standing in a place a Fat Bald White Guy would never stand.

Rock scrambling is almost as much fun as playing in creeks.  If you make it up to Rough Ridge summit, make sure you visit the split rock. You can visit the top of the rock on the right without Spidey skills by following the trail behind the rock formation.

The trail out was nice if for no other reason we got to revisit all the views we enjoyed climbing to the summit.  As we got back to the parking lot, I was pleased to see a Boy Scout working on a rock cairn.  Being called away from his work before he could finish by his family, I took up the task and as is my custom thanked God for the beauty of his creation with each rock placed on the cairn.  Rock Ridge is one beautiful hike.

Reviewing the trail is easy....this is a popular trail for good reason.  It is reasonably vigorous but very short in length.  So the view to effort ratio is very good.  The access near MP 303 is a 9....would be 10 but you may not get a parking place....the trail is an 8 as it is well maintained but very sociable.... scenery is a 9...can't wait to return in the fall!  Overall this is a solid 9 trail.  It  is one that you can make much longer by taking the Tanawha Trail from the Linn Cove access (4.0 mile) or Boulder Field (3.5).  Just be prepared to be sociable!

My best to my new found Wolfpacker friend...she told us she was a biology major but had decided that she would pursue a career in public service....and when I saw this quote I thought of her to you Katie  

" I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others". - Booker T. Washington    

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