Everyone who comes to the Southern Appalachians should have a Blue Ridge Parkway experience. They should drive a while and stop a while on the most visited National Park unit in the country. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Biennial Conference in 2013 will offer participants a great North Carolina Parkway drive and look.
Since we’re staying at Western Carolina University, we’ll get on the Parkway at Balsam Gap and drive north. Our first stop will be the Richland Balsam Overlook, the highest spot on the Parkway. Look at the magnificent view above.
The next major stop needs to be Devils Courthouse, a rocky outcropping with two legends – one Cherokee, another from settlers.
You can look at the rocky face but you can also climb a half-mile on a good trail to a view where, if the weather cooperates, you’ll be able to see four states. You don’t need to wear hiking boots for this one. Sneakers will be fine.
You could stop at every overlook, but frankly, that would be boring. But how about the view out to Looking Glass Rock? And then Cold Mountain? Yes, the real Cold Mountain, the one in Haywood County.
You might have your picnic lunch on the porch in the back of Pisgah Inn, with the same view as George Vanderbilt had from Buck Spring Lodge. And much more.
What do you think? Would that make a good ATC Biennial experience?