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Craggy Gardens

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Craggy Gardens, located at milepost 364.4 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, is home to summer wildflowers, blueberries, blackberries and large expanses of native rhododendrons that fleetingly paint the slopes and summits of the Great Craggy Mountains shades of pink and purple in mid to late June.

Exploring this high elevation forest wonderland begins at one of the Craggy Gardens Trailheads two access points, one at the Visitor Center at milepost 364.4 and the other at the Picnic Area at milepost 367.6, allow for a 1.9 mile round trip hike.

Setting out from the Visitor Center, we headed to the south end of the parking area to the trailhead look for the sign at the end of the rock wall then enter the wooded world of twisty, gnarled trees that will shade your path.

Descending from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the self guiding portion of the trail is dotted with informative signs that educate the hiker about the flora and geology of the Craggies exposed rocky high peaks complete with open grassy areas known as balds.

A moderate uphill climb brings you to the trail junction at 0.1 mile with the Douglas Falls Trail continue along your path until you reach a picnic pavilion/ historic trail shelter at mile 0.3.

After admiring the pavilion, which was built from now historically significant chestnut logs (Between 1904 and 1940, some 3.5 billion American chestnut trees, the giants of the Appalachian hardwood forest, succumbed to a fungal blight called Cryphonectria parasitica, making them virtually extinct today), follow the side path to the south to a vast tall grass meadow of wildflowers, rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurel.

This sun-drenched high elevation meadow, known as Craggy Flats, offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains Craggy Pinnacle is the prominent peak to the northeast and Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, can be seen to the northwest.

Craggy Flats, with its spectacular mountain views, colorful spring and summer flower blooms, and oceans of undulating grass, are the perfect place to have a picnic under a shade tree easily the highlight of any hike along the Craggy Gardens Trail.

After exploring the maze of trails (approximately 0.25miles worth) that meander through the bald, return to the pavilion and either retrace your steps to the visitor center for a roundtrip hike of 0.85 mile or continue hiking westbound to the picnic area.

 
 
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