Revisiting the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to Lunch Rocks

Hannah, my older granddaughter, and I went up to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail a few days ago. I’ve hiked this trail several times over the years but this time I found several new things.

The MST starts at the Folk Art Center and goes east for about three miles to an rock outcropping where you can look down at Haw Creek in Asheville. It’s a standard Carolina Mountain Club half-day hike. As we walked up and talked (actually Hannah talked and I listened), we met several CMC hikers that had come up from Haw Creek.

You can’t miss the trail junction with its large two blue dots. The Haw Creek trail goes up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, crosses the road and goes down, down, down to Haw Creek. But we didn’t take it; we continued up to Lunch Rocks. See the picture above.

Though we met several groups going up and down the MST, we were the only ones on Lunch Rocks where we had, you guessed it, lunch. Hannah looked down. “It’s like a little town,” she said. The houses and roads in Haw Creek did look like the little wooden building in a train set.

She noticed an unmaintained trail and we followed it. This was the first time I had taken the opportunity to follow this trail all the way down. It took us to the Parkway across from the Lunch Rocks overlook. This was obviously a trail used by those who wanted to just get up on Lunch Rocks without much walking. Without a name, we figured we could name it and it became the Hannah trail

We got back to Lunch Rocks and came down the MST. It wasn’t cold but it was definitely the dead of winter. I showed her galax, the ground cover with heart-shaped leaves that is endemic to the Southern Appalachians.

Once back at the cars, we explored the Folk Art Center.

Besides the beautiful crafts and books, there was something new: a snack stand. According to the woman staffing the snack car, the Blue Ridge Parkway had specifically requested a place where visitors could get coffee and something to eat. So they had the usual junk food: potato chips and candy bars.

As a board member of Great Smoky Mountains Association, I’ve been trying to get some coffee at Oconaluftee Visitor Center for a couple of years now but no go. And here, the Park Service management requested the coffee. It’s a shorter trip into Asheville and a coffee shop than to Cherokee. Go figure.

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