02 Dec Fall Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC
One of the best things about my term as a Resource Assistant has been living in the area where I’m stationed, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. The Blue Ridge Mtns are a subregion of the Appalachian Mountains in Western North Carolina. The duty station where I live is in Asheville, NC, which is the largest town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are several awesome mountain chains that comprise the Blue Ridge Mtns that are all within an hour-ish drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Black Mountains, The Craggy Mountains, The Pisgah Mountains, The Great Balsam Mountains, and The Great Smoky Mountains offer some of the best scenery in the Southern Appalachians,
These mountains host tons of outdoor recreation opportunities as well. Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, climbing, horse riding, camping, and backpacking are among the most popular ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in Western NC. My favorite activities are time-flexible and keep me on two feet, so on the weekends you can find me squeezing in a quick hike before dusk to watch the sunset or spending a whole day to find a pretty spot in the backcountry to enjoy some one-on-one time with the wilderness. During the summer, I spend my weekends chasing waterfalls and swimming holes, soaking up every bit of that cool, rejuvenating mountain water until the fall season makes it too cold to bear.
Part of what makes this region special is the vast amount of National Forest lands and the intricate matrix of land between private landowners, tribal lands, National Forests, and other federal public lands agencies such as the National Parks Service. For example, in Western NC there are two large National Forests – Pisgah NF and Nantahala NF, State Parks such as Gorges State Park or DuPont State Forest, and then there are National Parks – The Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Mountains are also home to Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in America east of the Mississippi River.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is worth highlighting as it borders many miles of National Forest land and has resulted in larger, more continuous tracts of land protected from development, These lands also boast some of the greatest scenery and recreations opportunities in all of America. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest linear national park in America spanning the Appalachian Mtns of NC and VA, and has resulted in a more engaging relationship between the two federal public land agencies – United States Forest Service and National Parks Service – to better conserve these special places and resources for the public.