The Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” could just as well be nicknamed “America’s Favorite Bike Tour.” In all, the parkway stretches for 469 miles, from North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south, to Waynesboro, Virginia, in the north. On our new Blue Ridge Bliss tour, you’ll explore more than 300 of the very best of those miles; in fact, the North Carolina mountains offer some of the best cycling in the country.
Pedaling the iconic crest of the southern Appalachians, you’ll enjoy expansive views and rolling terrain as you skirt the highest peaks in the East, including 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell. We’ll spin past historic farmsteads and lodges, and ride through the many valleys known locally as “hollers,” twisting and turning through a rural landscape of dark forests, sun-bathed fields, and mountain meadows delineated by rustic split-rail fences.
This June, immerse yourself in Appalachia’s unique mountain culture. Join us for Blue Ridge Bliss in North Carolina!
|Start Date:||Jun 07, 2014||End Date:||Jun 13, 2014|
|Start Location:||Fancy Gap, VA||End Location:||Fancy Gap, VA|
|Total Days:||7||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||51.7||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||40||Elevation Alert:||High Point: 6000'|
|Airport:||Greensboro, NC (GSO) International Airport||Tour Leader:||Greg Edwards|
|Caterer:||Two Trees Catering (Adam)||Meals:||Catered meals|
|Accommodations:||Camping, Motel Options||Type:||Supported|
|Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+||Level of Support:||Fully Supported|
Fancy Gap, Virginia. After gathering in Fancy Gap, our group of approximately 40 riders will be bussed to Cherokee, North Carolina, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, to begin our bicycle adventure. Our roller-coaster ride begins near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, where museum exhibits tell the story of native Americans and early European settlers in this area and chronicle the work of the Civilian Conservation Corp and the development of the national park. The adjacent Mountain Farm Museum contains a fascinating collection of log structures including a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, and corn cribs.
Cherokee to Moonshine Creek Campground, 35 miles. The southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway features the road’s largest concentration of tunnels, and we’ll waste no time getting to them. There are 26 tunnels along the parkway in all, 25 of them located in North Carolina (and just one in Virginia). We’ll pass through many of them on the first day of riding, when we’ll also earn amazing mountaintop views as we climb for nearly 20 miles through the Cherokee Indian Reservation. After passing the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center, at almost 6,000 feet in elevation, we’ll descend to Moonshine Creek Campground, where we can relax to the tranquil sound of the mountain stream near our campsite.
Moonshine Creek Campground to Lake Powhatan, 57 miles. If Blue Ridge Parkway views are among the reasons you chose this tour you will not be disappointed. Attaining elevations that exceed 6,000 feet, you’ll look out on mountain ridges that seem to ripple away forever into the distance. Today you will ride over the southwestern shoulder of 6,410-foot Richland Balsam. Later, you’ll want to take in the view from the Pisgah Inn at milepost 408 and marvel at the forested peaks, misty coves, and slopes of fragrant flowers. From Mt. Pisgah we’ll begin a thrilling 14-mile descent to our campground on Lake Powhatan near the North Carolina Arboretum.
Lake Powhatan to Black Mountain Campground, 59 miles. Prepare for another day of stunning scenery and stiff climbs as we leave the river near Asheville to approach Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States. The day begins with the Folk Art Center at milepost 382. The most popular attraction on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the center is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which formed in 1930 and today represents nearly 1,000 craftspeople in nine southeastern states. From there, it is on to Craggy Gardens, one of the most dramatic viewpoints on the entire parkway. In early summer, Craggy Gardens transforms into a mountain-sized bouquet, with rhododendron thickets covering the landscape in pinks and purples. If your legs are up to the additional challenge, you can tack on the optional five-mile climb to the summit of Mt. Mitchell. We will spend the night at Black Mountain Campground along the South Toe River.
Black Mountain Campground to Pineola, 41 miles. After a short climb out of the valley bottom, we will enjoy rolling terrain as we pass the quaint hamlet of Little Switzerland and the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. Toward day’s end you might opt to make the 1.6-mile side hike to Linville Falls. The most popular waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Linville is a spectacular three-tiered waterfall that plunges into Linville Gorge, the "Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians." We will camp near the Linville River at the aptly named Down by the River Campground.
Pineloa to Glendale Springs, 57 miles. We begin our sixth day with a moderate climb to an engineering marvel, the Linn Cove Viaduct, a 1,243-foot concrete segmental bridge that snakes across the face of Grandfather Mountain. The viaduct has won dozens of national design awards and is the most popular section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Another attraction worth visiting is the small mountain arts town of Blowing Rock, located just a couple of miles off the parkway. It offers everything from ice cream and fine dining to crafts and outdoor gear. Near Blowing Rock, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park preserves the country estate of the well-known textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist. Its centerpiece is the 1901 Flat Top Manor, a 20-room, 13,000-square-foot mansion now home to the Parkway Craft Center, one of five shops administered by the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Here local artisans demonstrate mountain crafts like weaving, glassblowing, and woodcarving. The 3,500-acre estate also features 25 miles of carriage paths open to hiking.
Glendale Springs, North Carolina, to Fancy Gap, Virginia, 61 miles. On our final day of Blue Ridge bliss, you won’t want to miss the outstanding Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1997 and operated by way of a partnership involving the National Park Service and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the center celebrates the traditional music and talented musicians of the Blue Ridge region. Facilities include an outdoor concert amphitheater and an indoor interpretive center. Twelve miles later we’ll return to our point of origin, Fancy Gap. From here, you and your newfound friends will head for home, full of bliss — and anything but blue — after this amazing two-wheeled journey through the mountains of North Carolina.
"The ride route, the leaders, and other riders were all great. I truly enjoyed all aspects of this trip."
2011 Tour Participant
"The roads were amazing, very light traffic. I enjoyed the people in our group, the food was excellent, and the scenery kept making you want to ride up all those hills!"
2012 Tour Participant
"Danced to Old Time music, ate fantastic food, met some of the best people, laughed a lot and absolutely loved the trip. Will go again with ACA."
2009 Tour Participant
"I enjoyed the riding. The Blue Ridge parkway is primo cycling. Low traffic, great roads, beautiful scenery. I will be back if the Southern Blue Ridge Parkway tour becomes a reality. Greg Edwards and his staff provided excellent leadership...Greg is a stellar leader. Always a smile on his face and great camaraderie."
2013 Tour Participant