A two-day trip through the Highlands district reveals the shift from flat plateau to mountain ridges. Find yourself in the rolling pastures of Doughton Park (Milepost 240 – 245) or exploring the Grandfather Mountain corridor (Milepost 295 – 300) or the rugged Linville Gorge (Milepost 317) with a night in North Carolina’s High Country of Boone or Blowing Rock. A high degree of original Parkway design remains here and you will find mountain cabins in close proximity to magnificent country estates from the early twentieth century. Bring your hiking shoes in order to take advantage of the trails along Grandfather Mountain and Linville Falls, ending your second day near Spruce Pine. There are lots of opportunities for camping or lodging in Parkway communities.
Day One: Morning
Heading south through Cumberland Knob (Milepost 218), be aware that you are traveling through the first section of the Parkway to be constructed, beginning in 1935. At Brinegar Cabin (Milepost 238.5) you can make a quick stop at the mountain home where Martin and Caroline Brinegar raised their family. This is the only Parkway structure on the National Register of Historic Places. Doughton Park is a beautiful place for a quick hike through grassy meadows, visit to the gift shop, or even a bite to eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner are served) at the restored historic Bluffs Restaurant, reopened in 2021 after a major renovation necessary due to 10 years of closure. Continuing south, you may want to stop at the Northwest Trading Post (Milepost 258.6) for some snacks or shopping. At E.B. Jeffress Park and the Cascades (Milepost 272), take time to picnic or hike to the Cascades waterfalls (1.2 miles total) or head south (.5 mile trail) to the Cool Springs Baptist Church and Jesse Brown Cabin. If picnicking isn’t an option, Blowing Rock is an easily accessible off of the Parkway at Milepost 291.8 or 294.6.
Day One: Mid-Late Afternoon
After lunch, enjoy the Grandfather Mountain corridor here in North Carolina’s High Country. Along the Parkway, visit the Moses Cone Memorial Park (Milepost 294) with the Cone family’s summer resort, Flattop Manor, serving as the Parkway’s official craft center. Views from the front porch, a system of carriage trails, and shopping are available. Julian Price Park (Milepost 297) and the beautiful Price Lake Overlook (Milepost 297) are just a few miles south.
Day One: Late Afternoon – Early Evening
The Linn Cove Viaduct and Visitor Center (Milepost 304.4) is an opportunity to experience the Parkway’s “last link” completed in 1987. Long or short trails throughout the Grandfather corridor take you up on the side of the mountain in some of the most unique habitat anywhere in the Blue Ridge. Overnight in North Carolina’s High Country of Boone and Blowing Rock, or experience Price Park Campground, one of the Parkway’s most popular.
Day Two: Morning
Grandfather Mountain (privately operated and fees apply) is one of North Carolina’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions with its “mile-high” swinging bridge and various environmental habitats for wildlife. Part of the Grandfather Mountain area is a North Carolina State Park as well. Linville Falls (Milepost 317) is one of the Parkway’s busiest areas. Lying along the Linville River, the visitor center has educational items for sale and is the trailhead for short or long hikes that will take you to a variety of overlooks, giving the visitor glimpses into one of the most rugged gorges and the first national wilderness area in the east.
Day Two: Mid-Late Afternoon
After hiking, picnicking, or fishing by the Linville River, head south fifteen miles to the Museum of North Carolina Minerals (Milepost 331), the place to learn about the geology of the Blue Ridge region through highly interactive, educational exhibits. A perfect place for using the park as a classroom for your children.
Day Two: Late Afternoon-Early Evening
Complete your day by exploring the communities of Spruce Pine, Linville, or Little Switzerland where you will find dining and evening lodging accommodations.