Five Epic Adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains

https://www.flickr.com/photos/turducken/The Blue Ridge Moun­tains are known for gor­geous scenery and excel­lent hik­ing along the Appalachi­an Trail, but they’re not quite thought of like a block­buster out­door des­ti­na­tion when com­pared to the likes of the Rock­ies. How­ev­er, there are some pret­ty epic adven­tures to be had here if you take the time to look. Next time you find your­self on the East Coast, here are a few of the most exhil­a­rat­ing escapades you can find along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Climb the Linville Gorge
The Linville Gorge is occa­sion­al­ly referred to as North Carolina’s Grand Canyon. That might be stretch­ing it a bit, but the climbs here are cer­tain­ly no joke. Mul­ti-pitch trad routes abound in this beau­ti­ful chasm that becomes strik­ing­ly scenic when the leaves start to change in the fall. There are also numer­ous boul­der­ing routes to choose from and great hik­ing trails through­out, so you’ll nev­er get bored spend­ing a week or two explor­ing. The area is pret­ty remote in some spots, so make sure you bring along a guidebook.

The Amphithe­ater and Table Rock hold some of the more mod­er­ate routes in the area, while Low­er Hawks­bill and Short­off Moun­tain pro­vide the real challenges.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gods-art/Raft the Gorge
In addi­tion to the excel­lent climb­ing in the Linville Gorge, it’s also home to one of the bad­dest rapids on the East Coast. The twen­ty-mile stretch of water from Linville Falls to Lake James boasts Class V rapids after a steady rain­fall, offer­ing up hun­dreds of tor­rents that are too tech­ni­cal for begin­ners and strong enough to cap­size even the most expe­ri­enced rafters. The water is a ver­i­ta­ble mine­field of sieves, under­cut rocks and boul­ders that look to ruin your day and there are so many hori­zon lines that it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to pre­dict what’s com­ing next. It’s def­i­nite­ly one of the most exhil­a­rat­ing experiences.

Sum­mit the Mighty Mitchell
Thou­sands of tourists dri­ve their way up to the top of Mount Mitchell, the East Coast’s high­est point, in North Car­oli­na every year. The real treat is to hoof it to the top by foot. Get­ting to the top with­out wheels is no small feat, as the Black Moun­tain Crest Trail is a 12.5‑mile long tra­verse full of windy ridge lines and numer­ous trail ropes need­ed to get to the top. Trust us, the view from 6,684 feet up is def­i­nite­ly worth the has­sle, and you’ll feel a lot more accom­plished than all of those folks who are park­ing their vehicles.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/touringcyclist/Bike Vir­ginia and North Carolina 
If you’re tired of all the hik­ing the Blue Ridge Moun­tains offers, then strap on a hel­met and hop on two wheels instead. Virginia’s Carvin’s Cove near Roanoke is a 13,000-acre munic­i­pal park, the sec­ond largest in the nation, that hous­es rough­ly forty miles of flow­ing sin­gle­track for moun­tain bik­ing enthu­si­asts. If that doesn’t strike your fan­cy then head over to Har­rison­burg, VA which is list­ed as a Bronze-lev­el IMBA ride cen­ter thanks to mile upon mile of dif­fi­cult East Coast sin­gle­track inter­spersed with routes even begin­ners can enjoy.4

Alter­na­tive­ly, head fur­ther south to DuPont State Recre­ation­al For­est for over 100 miles of gran­ite slick­rock and machine-built flow trails with some of the best views in all of the East Coast. The hills here are steep and guar­an­teed to make you short of breath and much of the area is a tad too tech­ni­cal for begin­ners. Just keep your wits about you, because the park is also home to a num­ber of fur­ry crea­tures like black bears.

SUP the French Broad River
The French Broad Riv­er out­side Asheville pro­vides some smooth stretch­es of water that’s suit­able for begin­ners and experts alike. It’s already a pop­u­lar area for canoe­ing and kayak­ing so there’s no rea­son not to add one more to the mix. There are a cou­ple of out­fit­ters set­ting up shop here if you want to go on a group excur­sion, but we think it’s best done on your own.