Wildflowers You Might Spot From Milepost 299-317
- Dwarf Iris – Mar-April
- Mayapple – Mar-April
- Serviceberry Sarvis – Mar-May
- Buttercups – Mar-June
- Wild Strawberry – Mar-June
- Crested Dwarf Iris – Apr-May
- Soloman’s Seal – Apr-May
- Carolina Rhododendron – Apr-June
- Dogwood – May
- Bluets – May-June
- Flame Azalea – May-June
- Fire Pink – May-June
- Allegheny Blackberry – May-June
- Catawba Rhododendron – June
- Beard Tongue – June-July
- Mountain Laurel – June-July
- Mountain Ash – Jun-Jul (bloom) Sept-Oct (berry)
- Coreopsis – Jun-Aug
- Tall Coneflower – Jul-Aug
- Boneset – Aug
- Virgins Bower – Aug
- Heller’s Blazing Star – Aug
- Witch Hazel – Late Sept-Oct
**Many of these blooms may be found along the Parkway, at Grandfather Mountain or at Beech Mountain.
Birds You Might Spot From Milepost 299-317
- Red-tailed Hawks
- Chestnut-sided Warblers
- Black-throated Blue Warblers
- Canada Warblers
- Slate-colored Juncos
- White-breasted Nuthatches
- Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
**Find most of these on Grandfather Mountain or Beech Mountain.
Origins of Area Names between milepost 299-317
Montezuma – A tiny community between Linville and Newland. The name came from a committee which wanted to recommend the name “West End” for the town. To ensure that their favorite name would be chosen, they decided to only suggest two names and make the second name so impossible and ridiculous, that “West End” would be a shoo-in. The other name they chose was “Montezuma”. So the names were proposed and to the “clever” committees’ surprise, they chose MONTEZUMA!
Facts and Folklore between milepost 299 – 317
Brown Mountain Lights– Although scientists have tried for years to explain it, the mysterious red, bluish-white or yellow lights that appear suddenly over the Brown Mountains, remain a mystery. Of course local residents have come up with their own explanations. One of these legends is that a plantation owner had gone up the mountain to hunt, became lost and never returned home. One of his slaves took a lantern and searched for him for several nights but never returned. It is said that the light is from the lantern of the slave’s spirit searching for his master. Another legend is that the lights are the wives still searching for their husbands killed during a major war between the Cherokee and Catawba indians. Visible in all seasons but better in the fall, the best time to see them is on a cool, crisp night just after a good rain (around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.). The best locations for viewing the lights are: Wiseman’s View (for those with a 4WD) near Linville Falls on milepost 317.5 , the Lost Cove Overlook on milepost 310 , An overlook south of Jonas Ridge on NC 181 and from the Thunder Hill overlook on milepost 290.
The Buried Treasure of Frank & Jesse James! -According to legend, Frank James, brother of bank robber, Jesse, had friends in Avery County and often visited them there. On one occasion, he became ill while traveling through the county and rested in the loft of Jake Carpenter’s barn He went on to Alabama where he died shortly after. The legend states that he had buried some of his loot in the vicinity of Avery County which has led to many a treasure hunt and wild goose chase!
The Tallest Town – At an elevation of 5506 feet, Beech Mountain is the highest incorporated town in the Southeastern United States.
The Little People of Linville Caverns – According to the storytellers, little people called “Nunnehi” by the Cherokee are supposed to live in the caverns!
The Rags that Built a School – Dr. Eustace and Mary Sloop, both physicians, moved to Crossnore in 1911 and some time later began a boarding school for mountain youth. To raise funds for the school, Dr. Mary Sloop wrote friends and asked them to send discarded clothes to sell to raise funds for the institution. The upscale second hand shop raised enough money to help build Crossnore School which today is a thriving academy. The Blair Fraley thrift store is still on the campus, although it recently moved into a much larger building.
Points of Interest – Milepost 299 to 317
The Linn Cove Viaduct – 30 min-1 hour – Perhaps the most photographed section of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway is the marvel of modern engineering known as the Linn Cove Viaduct. The last link of the Parkway to be finished, the Viaduct was completed in 1987. A key factor in the decision to construct the viaduct was environmental impact–they did not want to cut into a mountain, but rather, to wrap a bridge around one! The most complicated concrete bridge ever built, the Viaduct snakes around Linn Cover in an s-shaped curve. Visitors can get out at the Linn Cove visitor’s center and hike down on a handicapped-accessible trail to a beautiful view of the Viaduct. FREE
Grandfather Mountain – 2-4 hours – At 5,964 feet Grandfather Mountain is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge with some of the oldest rock formations in the world. Why is it called Grandfather? Just take a look at the view from Hwy. 105 and you’ll see the profile of the old man with his long beard and strong nose, taking a snooze with his head tilted back. The views on top are spectacular–walk across the Mile-High Swinging (and sometimes singing) Bridge…hike several trails and stop for a picnic or have lunch at the Museum Restaurant. Be sure to visit the bears, otters, eagles, cougars and deer in their natural habitats. Milepost 305 then take Highway 221 South for approximately 1 mile to the entrance. 800-468-7325 www.grandfather.com $
Village of Banner Elk – 1 to 2 hours – Unique shops, boutiques and restaurants all centrally located in downtown Banner Elk. Exit at MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, then turn right onto Hwy. 105. Turn left onto Hwy. 184 toward Banner Elk. Village is close to stoplight.
The Great Train Robbery, LLC – The High Country’s Greatest Shopping Attraction. Emporium, shops, art gallery, real estate and dining at Carolina’s restaurant. Furnishings, gifts, antiques, apparel, auctions and more. Special events, design seminars, entertainment, festivals and shopper packages year-round.. Exit at MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, then turn right onto Hwy. 105. Turn left onto Hwy. 184 toward Banner Elk. 828-898-8645 www.thegreattrainrobbery.com
Old Hampton Store– Located in the heart of Linville, Old Hampton Store, circa 1920, features BBQ on homemade sourdough bread, NC pottery, homemade jelly, pickles and apple butter, country ham & cheeses, freshly ground cornmeal & grits, and country crafts. Come visit for old timey country fun.. Exit at MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, then turn rightonto Ruffin Street. 828-733-5213 www.oldhamptonstore.com
Fred’s General Mercantile– 30 min. to 1 hour – Located in Beech Mountain. At Fred’s you will find a little bit of everything. from birdwatching equipment to hiking boots to ski rentals…and some of the best muffins you’ve ever tasted! Their saying is that “If you don’t see it, ask for it.If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”. Exit at MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, then turn right onto Hwy. 105. Turn left onto Hwy. 184 toward Banner Elk. At stoplight in Banner Elk, turn left onto 184/194 and then bear to right to continue on 184. Keep going all the way to the top of the mountain and Fred’s is on the left. 828-387-4838 www.fredsgeneral.com
Coffey Lake & Buckeye Lake – Great fishing, walking trails and the perfect place to have a picnic, read a book or take in the views. The best way we know to tell you to get there is to take MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, make a right onto Hwy. 105, then a left onto Hwy. 184. Take 184 into Banner Elk, then make a left at the stoplight onto 184/194. Bear to right on 184 which will take you up to Beech Mountain. Once there, stop at Fred’s General Mercantile for specific directions to the lakes (you can also purchase a license and pick up equipment there as well). FREE
Wildcat Lake – Swimming, canoeing, fishing & family fun. From MP 305, turn right onto Hwy. 221, then right onto Hwy. 105. Make a left onto Hwy. 184. At the Mill Pond, make a left onto Hickory Nut Gap Road and Wildcat Lake will be on your right just past Grandfather Home. FREE
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort – Premiere mountain ski resort near Banner Elk. Features 20 slopes, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoeing and great fun. Visit online at www.skisugar.com $
Beech Mountain Ski Resort – The highest ski area in Eastern North America. Features 15 slopes, skiing, snowboarding, tubing and ice skating. Visit online at www.skibeech.com $
The Weaving Room – 30 min. to hour – Watch weavers at work keeping the mountain tradition of the craft alive. Also visit the craft shop and Blair Fraley Store all on the campus of Crossnore School in Crossnore. Mondays through Saturdays. Milepost 305.9 then take Highway 221 to Crossnore. 800-374-4660 www.crossnore.com
Beacon Heights Trail – About a 10 minute hike to view. 0.22mile, Moderate MP 305.2 FREE
Tanawa Trail – A hiker’s trail! See beautiful views, rare and endangered vegetation, and many diverse biological and geological features. 13.5 miles, Easy/Moderate MP 305.5 FREE
Grandfather Mountain Overlook – This overlook has one of the best southern views of Grandfather Mountain. From here, you might notice how the mountain also resembles the head of a hawk–which also explains the Cherokee name “Tanawa” meaning hawk. FREE
Flat Rock Trail – A self-guiding loop. .63 miles, Easy. MP 308.2 FREE
Lost Cove Cliffs – A great place to see the Brown Mountain Lights just after a rainfall on a crisp summer night. FREE
Camp Creek Trail – A great place to see the Brown Mountain Lights just after a rainfall on a crisp summer night. MP 315.5 FREE
Linville Falls – 1 to 3 hours – Milepost 316.3 is the visitor center and the start of trails to overlook the two falls and gorge. The Upper Falls (Linville Falls Trail) tumble 10-12 feet high into a pool and the Lower Falls (Linville Gorge Trail) fall about 80 feet into the gorge. Plan on spending around 45 minutes to hike to those 2 falls.The Linville River and the more than 10,000 acres that form the gorge have been designated a wilderness area. FREE
Linville Gorge – The deepest gorge east of the Mississippi River is located right here in the High Country! The Linville Gorge Wilderness area offers a plethora of trails, opportunities for rock climbing, camping and much more. Please note that this area is very rugged and remote. Permits are required for overnight camping. For more information: 828-652-2144. FREE
Dugger’s Creek Trail – A .5 mile loop to view of Dugger’s Falls. Strenuous. MP 316.4 FREE
Linville River Bridge Trail – A leg-stretcher to view an unusual bridge. 0.1 mile, easy. MP 316.5 FREE
Linville Caverns – See inside Humpback Mountain where stalactites and stalagmites form magnificent icicle-like sculptures. Take a guided tour through the caverns and see crystal-clear streams with trout running below the caverns. At a constant temperature of 52 degrees, Linville Caverns is a year-round attraction (though only open on weekends from December through February). Also visit the gift shop featuring locally made pottery, rock specimens, souvenirs and other gift items. Exit the Parkway at MP 317.4 and take Hwy. 221 South toward Marion. 800-419-0540 or www.linvillecaverns.com $