The High Country Part 1- Boone and Valle Crucis, NC

Finally back into the mountains! With Momma in tow I headed for N.C.’s “high country”. This is a section of Western N.C. before you get into the Black Mountains and the Smokies. Many of N.C.’s famous mountain sights are in this area, Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock, Blowing Rock, Lake Lure and Linville Falls. We stayed one night in Boone as we were actually headed for Asheville and a cabin we had rented. I tend to do such a thing quite often since most accommodations won’t let you in until 3 or so. By driving close to the final destination I have found you can have an extra sightseeing day instead of driving most your first day.

We started this trip in Boone N. C. Named for Daniel Boone, it is believed that he camped at a site near here on a regular basis. It is also the home of Appalachian State University. It is the economic hub of the high country area.

Boone also lays near the Blue Ridge Parkway so we drove into the city on the Parkway.

Grandfather Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Our first stop was at an overlook to see Grandfather Mountain (5946 Ft). Grandfather Mountain is the high point on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Grandfather Mountain is also the oldest mountain on the North American continent.

We continued from there on the parkway to the Linn Cove Viaduct. The Linn Cove Viaduct was the last piece of the parkway to be completed. The Parkway was started in 1936 and the Linn Cove Viaduct completed the road 47 years later. One of the greatest engineering feats in the world the Viaduct allows the parkway to skirt Grandfather Mountain on an elevated surface while minimally disturbing the surface of the mountain. After extensive controversy and debate it was decided to put the road through a boulder field in Linn Cove.

The Linn Cove Viaduct

The viaduct is 1243 ft in length and was built on site in one hundred and fifty three 50 ton sections. The section were then pieced together in order to create todays National Engineering Landmark. There was minimal ground disturbance as the pieces were placed by a crane that moved along the viaduct as it was completed.

Underneath the Linn Cove Viaduct

The first Hike on this trip was a short one through the Linn Cove boulder field to see the underside of the viaduct. It’s easy to see each small piece.

Next we went on to Linville Falls and Gorge. Linville Falls is one of the most famous in N.C. Linville Falls is on the Linville River. It starts with a dual upper falls. Then the water churns through a small canyon to the 45 foot plunge off the edge of the cliff. Linville has the highest water volume of any of the Blue Ridge Mountain Falls. It is spectacular and worth the time and energy to make the moderate hike to each overlook.

The dual Upper Falls at Linville Falls
The water continues it’s plunge through the canyon
Finally falling over the cliff into Linville Gorge.

After this short hike we made our way into the city of Boone to rest for the night.

The next morning we decided to go to the Mast General Store one of the longest continually operating General Stores in the nation, since 1882. Although it now has several branches throughout the High Country and Appalachian Mountain region this store in Valle Crucis is the original. It is a community centerpiece as it still houses the local post office for Valle Crucis. There is an old wood stove where locals still gather to swap stories, drink coffee and play checkers. The store offers old fashion home goods, outdoor equipment and apparel, old time toys, souvenirs, and 500 varieties of old fashion candy at the “Annex”.

Valle Crucis is a census designated place in Watauga County NC. It was founded after 1840 by Levi Ives an Episcopal bishop. Valle Crucis is Latin for Vale of the Cross.

Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, N.C.
Inside at the Post Office
The old wood stove
The Annex

We arrived at our mountaintop cabin later that afternoon.

Our cabin view.

The next day we are off for two hikes at Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock N.C.

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