We headed directly west from the campground to intercept the Blue Ridge Parkway and then go south to do some short hikes.
The weather today was supposed to be mostly sunny with lots of big puffy clouds and hot with a high near 30C. The campground is at around 900 feet above sea level. Most of the spots on the Parkway, that we stopped at, were above 3000 feet so we were much cooler.
As an overall impression of today’s stops, we could have easily skipped them and not missed much but we got some exercise and crossed them off the list. The guide book I used was sort of reaching to find things to do around here. This section of the parkway seemed almost deserted even on a Saturday.
The first stop was a short 1/2 mile loop to Cumberland Knob. You go out one side of a large picnic area.
As we left the parking lot we saw a bunch of people in matching T shirts for their family reunion.
After a bit of climbing in the woods.
You come out on the Knob. This was the view.
There was an interesting shelter with a stone fireplace.
Heading back, it looked like the Mountain Laurel is almost done here as it seems to have snowed under the trees.
Back to the car up the other side of the picnic area.
Just a short distance down the road was an outlook called High Piney Spur.
The little white dot on the hill in the center of the picture above is someone’s house. They must have a great view.
Gotta get the right angle.
It was a very hazy day.
The next stop was 22 miles farther south in an area called Doughton Park. On the drive there were not a lot of views. Either we were in the trees or the Parkway property got very narrow and there were farms on either side of us.
We did stop at one viewpoint. It looks like the land is more developed to the west.
Another house perched way up high for the view.
We were going to do three short hikes at or near Doughton Park. It was a pretty busy place.
The first was supposed to be a short walk to a place called Wildcat Rocks. It turns out we parked right next to it and it was a about 50 yards from the car.
Why stand on the ground when you can stand on a narrow rock?
We couldn’t see anything that deserved the name “Wildcat”. We explored the immediate area.
We had passed a guest lodge on the way that was now closed. We assumed this water tower was to service it and some other buildings. I am not sure it had to be right at the top by the lookout.
Love the azaleas whenever we can find them.
We saw more trees with the strange hard growth on them.
The next hike started at the same place and was a 2 mile return, out along a ridge to a place called Fodder Stack. You can see the ridge in the foreground, below.
Just after we started the trail we looked back. This rocky outcrop was just below the previous viewpoint so we assumed they were the Wildcat Rocks that you can’t see from the Wildcat Rocks Overlook.
The Fodder Stacks trail went very steeply down. I hate how the picture make it look like we are on a level path.
The first viewpoint mentioned in the guide book.
The trail just kept going down. I reread the description in the guide and it said it just went to an overlook at the end of the ridge. We decided that that was too much pain for too little gain and turned around.
We had lunch back on top of the Wildcats.
We drove down to the end of the picnic area of Doughton Park to do the next walk (can’t call it a hike) up to the top of Bluff Mountain.
There were lots of Mountain Laurel along the edge of the field.
And lots of wildflowers in the field.
Just over the top was our destination of another trail shelter. The trail continues on a long way.
Heading back in the field a large gust of wind came up. Jennie said she was flying but I though she was doing A Sound of Music.
I saw some people heading up the hill past the parking lot.
Jennie waited in the car while I took a quick look.
First through the “Fat Man Squeeze”
Back down to Jennie and then the long drive home (about an hour).
Even though it was not supposed to rain today, as we drove by Mount Airy, we got dumped on for about 5 minutes. Then like a curtain, there was a line on the road where one side was wet and the other was dry, and it was gone.