Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hiking To Waterfalls On The Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wow... what a difference a day makes. My second day in Asheville was much better than the first, largely to spending time driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiking in the Pisgah National Forest to the southwest of the city. But first, breakfast!

We enjoyed a meal at the Hungry Bear Cafe. This is obviously a local establishment, not visited by the hippies I encountered yesterday in downtown Asheville. The cafe was quaint, but cozy and inviting. As to the food, it was what you'd expect from a local diner -- tasty, filling and just what I needed to get the day started. Upon downing a few eggs, hash browns and sausage patties, we promptly made our way towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I really love the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm so thankful there's a motorway that traces the top of the Appalachian Mountains. This stretch of road is one of America's greatest gems. If you've not experienced the Blue Ridge Parkway, then you should as soon as you can.

Our plan for hiking involved visiting four different waterfalls. The first stop was Skinny Dip Falls. After a moderate hike into the forest, we arrived to find an absolutely wonderful scene.

Crystal assessing her surroundings.

 Skinny Dip Falls -- there's a large wading pool below that many people hop into during warmer months. Clothing is optional.

The water from Skinny Dip Falls flowing down the mountain.

Up next was the Graveyard Fields. On this stretch of land are two different waterfalls, but we came to see the unique landscape and gorgeous river full of trout flowing through. Along the way, we wormed our way through a field of old-growth, wild Rhododendrons.

A forest of Rhododendrons. Cool!

The second waterfall on our itinerary was Sliding Rock. More so a rushing stream than a waterfall, it was still very awesome to see in person. During the late Spring and Summer months, the recreation area is open to swimmers. They can climb to the top of Sliding Rock, then coast down in the gushing water to the pool below. Crystal wanted to jump in the freezing water, but I convinced her thankfully not to do so, as to avoid catching hypothermia.

 Even though the water was cold, we did stick our feet in. IT WAS FRIGID!

On our way out of Sliding Rock, we happened upon a group of migrating Monarch Butterflies huddled together. Very rare to see in person!

Our third waterfall was Moore Cove. Though this waterfall wasn't the biggest, it was the only one that allowed for walking behind it. It was refreshing to touch the water splashing from above. The hike to get there was highly challenging, but well worth it. Such an amazing sight to behold!

The fourth and final waterfall was Looking Glass Falls. Mighty in size and sound, this was the largest of the falls we had seen. Such a tranquil location, but also very popular with visitors.

After a very long day of hiking, we finished the evening off with a special treat. Our dinner was at Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack. Another obvious local dive full of normal Asheville folk, this place was FANTASTIC! The chicken they serve can come in a number of different levels of spiciness. And let me tell you, they were HOT! I enjoyed my meal and even took some back to my hotel to eat tomorrow. If you like chicken or spicy food, then you need to come here for a meal. It won't disappoint.

That sign is hilarious.

Day two of visiting Asheville ended on a high note. It's become blatantly clear that the best way to experience Asheville is to avoid pretty much everything downtown. Enjoy the local spots on the western side of the city instead. Travel through the natural wonders to the south. All in all, just steer clear of the mecca of hippy-dom that possesses the eastern and downtown side. What will day three in Asheville hold for me? I guess we'll find out tomorrow!

Check out the rest of my trip here: Day 1, Day 3.

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