Are you looking for great scenery? Craggy Gardens is the place for you. Even the 20 mile (32 km) drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville yields some breathtaking views.
If your sunny day suddenly turns cloudy or foggy, wait a few minutes, as there is usually a wind blowing over the ridge and the clouds may clear. The ridges of the Craggies often create their own micro-climatic weather.
A Heath bald is treeless, but home to many shrubs such as Catawba rhododendrons and mountain laurels. Black Balsam Knob is a grassy bald. While there are excellent views from Craggy Knob that you won't want to miss, the taller shrubs prevent that 360 degree view.
The most popular hike is Craggy Gardens Trail, which has a trailhead at the south end of the visitor center parking lot. It's a 1.1 (1.8 km) mile trail between the visitor center and the picnic area.
From the visitors center, the trail is a self guided nature walk. At .3 miles (.5 km), there is a large shelter over the trail. (The shelter is .8 miles (1.3 km) from the picnic area.)
At this point a spur trail leads to Craggy Knob, an outstanding example of a Heath bald. There are some open areas providing great vistas.
There are several other trails in the area. Craggy Pinnacle trail is a .7 mile (1.1 km) trail leading to the top of Craggy Pinnacle.
The trailhead is at the Craggy Dome overlook, just north of the visitor center and through the tunnel. This short hike has an elevation gain of 440 feet, but rewards you with a panoramic 360 degree view.
There is a longer, more strenuous hike to Douglas Falls utilizing the Mountains-To-Sea trail. This hike will be 8 or 9 miles (13 to 14 km) round trip, depending on whether you start at the Greybeard Mountain parking overlook or the picnic area.
The picnic area is handicap friendly with easy access to several specially marked "reserved" tables. If you're not in need of a table with handicap access, please respect the reserved sign.
Craggy Gardens is truly a special area in high country. It's worth the stop for either a leg stretcher hike or a longer more strenuous hike. The wildflowers are eye-catching. The vistas are outstanding. At the very least, you'll need to slow down because the speed limit here is reduced for your safety.
2010 - 2016
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