Our third day in Asheville was my favorite. It was also the day that didn’t turn out quite the way we’d intended (when do travel plans ever, really?), but I think the hiccups we experienced in our travel plans made the day even better.
The goal for our last full day in North Carolina was to do some hiking in Asheville. While we didn’t make it to the highest point out this way, we did find three easy scenic hikes we loved, all perfect for families visiting the area.
Blue Ridge Parkway
We had breakfast first thing in the morning and then left the hotel pretty early. We had planned to drive from downtown Asheville, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, all the way up to Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi. We hoped to stop at pretty spots along the way and hike and take pictures. We got to do the hiking and pictures, but no Mount Mitchell, unfortunately.
About twenty miles before we would have reached the top, the road was closed down due to ice. We had noticed that the trees were covered in snow and ice as we increased in altitude, but didn’t think about it being necessary to close off the road. That sort of ruined our plans, but we still got a good hike in about halfway up and took a lot of pretty pictures at the lookout points we had access to. You can find a list of popular trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway here – our favorite area was near the Tanbark Ridge Tunnel.
On our way back into town, we stopped at the Folk Art Center located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It had loads of handmade art I would have loved to bring home, but it was all way too expensive for us.
Pisgah National Forest
Since Mount Mitchell was out and we were finding ourselves with more extra time than expected, we needed to find something else to do.
My cousin had told us about a place she loves called Max Patch about 45 minutes west of Asheville. We had planned to check out this area the next day on our drive home, but the weather forecast was predicting lots of clouds and rain. We figured we might have better luck if we tried to fit it into our now empty schedule a day early, so we drove out to Pisgah National Forest where Max Patch is located.
Before we even got to Max Patch, we found some really cool trails to hike on in the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest. (A full list of trails in this area can be found here.) There was a huge creek along my favorite trail that I wish I could pick up and transplant on top of our smaller creek out where we live.
After we hiked around Pisgah National Forest so long we could no longer feel our toes (it was REALLY cold this day and the day before), we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way to Max Patch along a narrow dirt path through the mountains.
I’m so grateful to my cousin for telling us about this place. We took the easy one-mile hike to the top of the bald and it spit us out on this absolutely gorgeous, flat grassy area where we had a 360 degree view of the mountains surrounding us. I’d never seen anything quite so beautiful in person before we came up here.
On a clear day, you can see three different mountain ranges from Max Patch – Mount Mitchell to the east, the Smoky Mountains to the south, and the Black Mountains in the distance to the west.
We spent a lot of time just taking in the view and then had a picnic lunch. (Luckily, it was a little warmer when we got to the top because the sun finally came out!) While we were eating, a group of six hikers passed by that were on a six-month long hiking trip through the Appalachians. We would love to do something like that some day, but for now, we’ll have to be happy with just a day of hiking!
Double D’s Coffee Bus
We were pretty exhausted after we left Max Patch, so we drove back to downtown Asheville to get some snacks and milkshakes at Double D’s Coffee Bus. This popular spot is a coffee shop/cafe inside a super cool, kitschy converted double-decker bus.
I’d seen it in my sister’s honeymoon pictures and and it looked like fun, so we got some snacks and relaxed on the top level of the bus for a bit before doing a little walking around downtown. The next day would be our last in Asheville, and we were already starting to miss this fun, funky town!
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