In April, I took several day-long bicycle trips from a cabin in Laurel Springs, North Carolina, both north and south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The furthest I went south was to the Northwest Trading Post in Glendale Springs, NC, on April 13, 2013. The cabin is about 0.8 mile from the Parkway (milepost 246), and the Northwest Trading Post is at milepost 258.6; so the trip one-way is about 13.4 miles, or 27 miles round-trip. I did additional riding in Glendale Springs itself, bringing the total closer to 28 miles. That may not sound like much for hard-core day bikers, but there were steep hills on this trip! I think the whole thing took me 3-4 hours, including some time exploring on foot.
Here’s the route I took as represented by Google Maps. It’s interactive, so you can follow along, zoom in or out, and explore other parts of the area.
There are several landmarks along the way, including not only Laurel Springs and Glendale Springs but also Alder Gap, Jesse Sheets’ cabin, and Sheets Gap. I took earlier trips to all those locations. There’s also a sign for Sheets Cemetery which I passed several times, and often wondered about, but I never went. Perhaps that’s a destination for spring 2014!
Here’s the view as shown by Google Earth. Like the map above, it’s interactive, so feel free to take a virtual tour of the route and surrounding area. This view gives a much better sense of the hilly terrain I traveled – and also the relative isolation of this part of the NC mountains.
It’s a beautiful place. In mid-April, it was cool, quiet, and green.
According to a table I consulted, the route includes two major inclines riding south: from milepost 249 to 249.8 and from milepost 251.3 to 251.8. There are two additional inclines not listed; perhaps they’re not long or steep enough to be considered “major,” but I found them to be relatively tough going.
The photograph below is of the Blue Ridge Parkway north of the cabin – around milepost 244 in Doughton Park. This gives you a sense of the route from a biker’s point of view.
I’m already looking forward to going back in spring 2014. And I’ll definitely be taking my bike again!
For more information about the Blue Ridge Parkway, click here. There’s a map, although it’s not very good.
For more about biking the Parkway, click here. You can find a link there to the elevation guide cited above.
There’s great hiking in Doughton Park (mileposts 238-246). And the Mountain-to-Sea Trail also passes nearby (for more information on it, click here).