The Blue Ridge Parkway is a monster of a scenic route that stretches 469 miles, connecting Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Along the way, there are scads of scenic turnouts and opportunities for day hikes. Sharp Top, spot of a previous day hike, is off the Parkway. I decided to jump on in Big Island, VA to check out a couple of places.
First, Otter Creek falls. No hiking involved, and pretty much no falls, either. We’ve enjoyed a beautiful, essentially rain-free summer here, which means that typically rushing water sources are now trickling ones. And when those trickles hit spots that are meant to be falls, well…Otter Creek was pretty dry, a theme that would repeat itself later on.
(Note: When I see low water sources, I immediately think of the difficulty of procuring sufficient drinking water by distance hikers. Yikes)
Next, heading south I stumbled upon the Thunder Ridge Overlook. Stunning view.
Standing on the point with outstretched arms, it was easy to feel a “I’m the king of the world!” moment as the valley spread out beneath me. There was no real hiking here either, but this particular turnoff had one key advantage: the path from the parking lot to the overlook bisected the AT. My wife, a good sport who doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm for spending days lost in the wilderness (especially in snake country) can now lay claim to something her friends cannot: She has hiked a small section of the Appalachian Trail:
From there we moseyed down the Parkway to Fallingwater Cascades. Now, this one features a .75 mile out-and back with some elevation gain on the return trip. Remember how I mentioned a lack of water previously? Well, the same held true at the “falls” we trekked in to visit. Easy/interesting terrain:
But walking the distance without the reward of a crashing water fall at the end was a bit of a letdown. It was so much of a letdown, I’m not even going to post a photo of the waterfall, just one of me crossing the bridge that spans the top of it:
Note the brackish puddle center-left in the above. I should have known that a lack of rushing water at the top would lead to a lack of a waterfall on the trek down to the base.
Regardless, a perfect day for being out-and-about, and a couple of places to revisit after it rains for a bit. Like late spring, maybe? In the meantime, planning my first short solo hike on the AT out of the Big Island area.
But that’s for next week’s post. Happy hiking!