Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway Recommended Hike!

Rock Castle Gorge National Recreational Trail
Milepost 167 Blue Ridge Parkway VA
Your innkeeper at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Virginia shares this beautiful hike in these Blue Ridge Mountains!
Over 200 species of Wildflowers in this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Trillium - three petals, three bracts and three leaves

Old Growth Yellow Poplar Tree at Rock Castle Creek
Tree Huggers

Wild Iris

The trail follows the creek and climbs higher elevations for a total of 10.5 miles
Ant on a fern
Old Bridge
Proof I was here!
Fiddlehead fern
This spectacular area is recognized as a National Recreational Trail due to the great biological diversity, the historical significance, and the challenging nature of the 10.8-mile loop trail. Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, this area features 60 species of native trees, 25 species of delicate ferns, and over 200 species of wildflowers. 

It also provides insight into a community of 70 families that carved out a living among these 4,000 acres over a century ago (using the creek for milling), they left to work in the cotton mills. 

In the springtime to early summer, nearly 200 varieties of wildflowers are visible along the trail area. You'll see tunnels of Catawba rhododendron (and later in the summer Mountain Laurel) and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows. The entire loop is 10.8 miles and the elevations range from 1,700 to 3,572 ft. A few small historic structures are visible along the trail, including a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

You can begin the trail and descend from the campground or park at the Fire Gate near the creek. Up top you can go to Rocky Knob Picnic Loop where the Raptors migrate in the Fall MP 174 near Mabry Mill near Rock Church Road.

Rock Castle Gorge Elevation: From 3,572 feet at its highest point on Rocky Knob near the Blue Ridge Parkway to 1,700 feet at its lowest point in the Rock Castle Gorge.

Gottasee factor (scenery, scale 0 to 4): 3.5. Another Appalachian sampler hike. Features include open vistas, a cascading stream, plentiful and varied flora and fauna, and a boulder field.

Creek beds are good places to spy on native brook trout (the lure for local anglers), but also a good place to hunt for salamanders. Northern dusky salamander is abundant, but several other species are likely to be present as well.

Another place (with limited parking) but on the lower Rock Castle Creek Loop is the fire gate off Hwy 8 at the CC Camp Lane Woolwine, VA 24185.

At an elevation of 1,721 feet, the Lower Rock Castle Creek Trail forms a 4.5-mile leg of the 11-mile loop called Rock Castle Gorge Trail. This trail follows a gated fire road alongside Rock Castle Creek.

Stay at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount Virginia for a central location to visit these Blue Ridge Mountains, The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail, Roanoke VA or Smith Mountain Lake!  See our website for music getaway specials!