Andon-Reid Inn Bed and Breakfast

Fork Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway


Exploring the Southern Blue Ridge Parkway

As the weather begins to warm up here in Western North Carolina, it’s exciting to see the Blue Ridge Parkway fully open again!  With an entrance to the Parkway so close to the Inn (just 7 miles away past Barber Orchard Fruit Stand), we love to recommend the Parkway to our guests as a relaxing and beautiful activity.  Stopping at the overlooks is just spectacular and a great place for picnics. There are also tons of hiking trails both simple and challenging, and it’s a great way to take a scenic route to downtown Asheville or the Biltmore Estate if you’ve got some time to spare.

Here in Western North Carolina, we are the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which spans 769 miles from the North Carolina entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia where it continues as Skyline Drive.  As we mentioned, the entrance to the parkway near the Inn is just 7 miles away on the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway (23/74) and you can head either towards the GSMNP or towards Asheville.  Here are some great options in either direction:

Heading towards Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

One of our favorite recommendations for our guests is the overlook and hiking trail at Waterrock Knob as it is only about 25-minute drive from the Inn.  The parking lot boasts amazing 270-degree views and is equipped with a public restroom and a visitor center.  It’s one of the best places close by to view the sunrise or the sunset.  The hike up to Waterrock Knob is relatively short, but it is quite steep, so be prepared.

Another great option for hiking and scenery is Fork Ridge Overlook.  The view is absolutely stunning from the parking lot and the hike is easy and peaceful with a small waterfall and creek to explore near the trailhead.

Heading this direction on the Parkway is also a great way to take the scenic route to Soco Falls near Maggie Valley and Cherokee or to the Oconoluftee River Trail in the Smokies (also a great place to see Elk).  If you take the parkway to Maggie Valley, be sure to check out the Twisted Spoke Restaurant, which is a fun, new place in the hills of Maggie Valley with amazing views.  It’s a great stop for lunch or dinner (open seasonally).

Heading toBRP Sign in the Guest Lounge at the Andon-Reidwards Asheville:

The stretch of the Parkway from US-23/74 to Asheville has some great hiking and exploring options.  It also has the highest spot on the whole parkway at Richland Balsam (~6,000 feet).

Some of our favorite hiking and sightseeing options on this part of the parkway include Devil’s Courthouse (another short but steep hike), Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, Mt. Pisgah and Looking Glass Rock.  At Devil’s Courthouse, there is a wonderful viewing platform which is a great place for a picnic.  Graveyard Fields is one of the most popular places on the parkway to see spectacular fall foliage and it has two waterfalls on its hiking trails.  Hiking Black Balsam Knob will make you feel like you are in the Sound of Music.  All of these options are within an hour drive from the Inn.

Another recommendation we frequently make to guests is that if they are planning to head into Asheville for the day, taking the parkway to downtown instead of the highway. This is a great way to relax and enjoy our natural wonders before experiencing the buzz of the city or the splendor of the Biltmore Estate.  We often recommend that folks stop for a late lunch at the Pisgah Inn (also open seasonally) near Mt. Pisgah, which has good food and simply stunning views from their grounds and restaurant.  It is also a good place to get Blue Ridge Parkway souvenirs!

When we are not at the Inn, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of our favorite places to be.  There’s so much to explore and it’s truly one of our region’s most treasured gems. We are so fortunate to be so close to such a beautiful area to get immersed in nature.

The Andon-Reid is a proud member and supporter of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.  It’s a great resource for planning your trip to the parkway in our area!  Download the App before your visit!

Other great resources for learning about the Parkway include (and make sure to check for closures on the NPS site before you venture out if visiting in the late fall or winter!):

National Park Service


Blue Ridge Mountain Life Guide

See you soon at the Inn,

Your Innkeepers, Brenda and Peter

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