Before setting up camp we took a driving tour of the park. Local families were enjoying a waterfall and swimming hole.
Mountain Laurel blooms appeared where ever the sun penetrated the forest branches.
|Pleasant paths and cool streams within sight of the van|
The trails more than made up for the sunny campground. We hiked a circle trail around, and over, the mountain. The first stop was at the edge of a granite cliff where a stream disappeared from sight.
Climbing down 300 stairs we followed the water flowing down the granite outcropping to a pool at the base. Continuing in the valley there were mountain laurels here too.
As we came out in a clearing, we had the first view of the smooth mountain at a preserved farm called the Hutchinson Homestead.
The trail then started climbing quickly and the Mountain Laurel were replaced by pines and our favorite low lying plant — blueberries!
We were probably a week or two early for good berries, but there
will be lots of snacks for hikers soon.
After lots of switchbacks and over 300 stairs, we reached the summit and were treated to a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Between the park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, there is wilderness as far as one can see. We appreciate the forethought of those that started the park system.
They did keep a few of the structures for historical purposes. In addition to the homestead, there is a wooden Baptist Church that was built in 1897. They still have services, but just in the summertime.
After our hike, we rolled out the awning to keep the sun off in the afternoon, then rolled it up again as thunder and lighting lit up the evening sky. Storms cleared by daybreak so we were very lucky with the weather. The trip home only took three hours and we stopped in a county park to make sandwiches. It was really nice to be able to cook all our meals in the van and be self-sufficient.