Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway including E B Jeffress 7/4/2011

We entered the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Linville area and headed north.  Our goal was to spend time in the area north of Blowing Rock that we had not visited before on our way to New River Campground at the North Carolina Virginia border.  I noticed that the rhododendrons and mountain laurel were in bloom in this area even though they bloomed weeks ago in the higher elevations south of here.

We passed by Linville Falls but made a short stop to enjoy the view at Price Lake.  There is a nice trail around this lake and canoes available for rent.  We also passed by the Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, and Moses Cone.  We have spent many days enjoying this area but are headed further north today.  Look for future blog entries for this area.

Our next stop was at a clearing where two building stand.  We could have parked at the overlook five hundred feet before the clearing or at E B Jeffress a half mile further north and walked the Mountain to Sea Trail to the clearing.  Cool Spring Baptist Church met in this clearing when the circuit riding preacher was in town.

Preaching was held in the shade of a big tree.The above building was not a church but a bad weather shelter.  Also in this clearing is the cabin owned by Jesse Brown that the preacher would stay in overnight.  Neither building had a wood floor and there were large gaps in the boards that would once have been filled with mud.

Our next stop was at E B Jeffress.  There are restrooms and picnic tables near the parking lot.  The Cascade Trail is a pleasant thirty minute loop hike.  Just past the restrooms the trail forks and we took the right side.  The trail gently descends through the woods to a bridge crossing Falls Creek. 

After crossing the bridge a right turn leads to the falls and the return trail is to the left.  There are stairs leading down to the first overlook below the top cascade but above the longer falls.  You can look down from here at the falls and see the lower overlook.  To get there you move back from the creek and descend more steps.

At the lower overlook we heard a distinct crashing sound every few seconds as the water hit one particular spot.  We could tell that the water continues to cascade below where we could see.  This was a busy trail with many people enjoying the holiday.  Returning to the intersection the trail follows the creek upstream.

As we approached the second bridge I thought about how amazing it is that such a small creek can create such a pretty waterfall.  The trail continues to follow the creek through a pretty woods with rhododendrons and mountain laurel blooming.  You can see and hear the traffic on the parkway but you could hear the creek babbling between the cars.

Our next stop was at The Lump overlook.  There was a good view from the parking area but we wanted to go to the top.  You can't tell from the picture but there were flowers along the sides of the trail.  The flowers at the top were different from the ones on the way up and just beyond the peak were lots of blackberry bushes that weren't quite ready for picking.

Our last walk for the day was at Jumpin' Off Rock.  This is a half mile each way walk in the woods  on a well graded trail.  The walk is uphill then level then uphill again but never steep.  The last section is level or slightly downhill.  The Mountain to Sea Trail exits on the right a couple hundred feet before the overlook.  The overlook appears to have covered the rock as there  was no rock in sight.

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