From Gatlinburg, TN, I head along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Little Switzerland, NC, and have a week in a lovely little cottage ($623, 7nhgts).
I meet a couple who have a holiday home in the area and they kindly offered to take me on a local walk after which we stopped for some delish pulled pork sandwiches & fries and visit a local farm shop.
There’s some good walking to be done at various points along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the views from the numerous viewpoints are fantastic. The Parkway runs for 469 miles through twenty-nine Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. While not a “National Park,” the Parkway has been the most visited unit of the National Park System every year since 1946 except one (1949).
Little Switzerland, NC, is a seasonal colony high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The elevations here, ranging from 3200 feet in the village to 4000 feet at the top of Grassy Mountain, offer incredible views of Mt. Mitchell to the west, Table Rock, Hawsksbill and Grandfather Mountain to the east, and the valleys of the South Toe, Turkey Cove and the bustling Catawba Valley.
Grandfather Mountain has a number of trails on it, some fantastic views and the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
Nearby Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River at an elevation of 6,684ft. There are a few trails around its peak and it is partly encircled by mist while I visit.
I have a relaxing time in Little Switzerland and spend some of it reading whilst lazing in the garden and make use of the kitchen with a couple of shopping trips to Ingles supermarket in Spruce Pine. Time is also spent planning the next leg of my trip. Originally I expected to be travelling through South America at this point but having loved my time in the national and state parks on the west coast I decide to plan the bulk of my travels in the US around their fantastic parks system.
The cottage I stayed in used to be the fire tower atop Grassy Mountain, great cottage, beautifully converted. I have a flight from Atlanta to Denver then on to Salt Lake City, so it’s an early start just before sunrise but I make a stop to picture Table Mountain in the light of the rising sun.