Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country
Check here for updates on road conditions on routes described in Road Cycling the Blue Ridge High Country. Please e-mail us
with any updates.
To check on state-maintained road conditions in Northwest North Carolina, click here
Sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are sometimes closed during winter, depending on weather and road conditions. For current information on Parkway closures, click here
or call (828) 298-0398.
Parkway closed in several locations across N.C., Va.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed in two locations frequented by cyclists in the Blue Ridge High Country. The Parkway is now open near Cumberland Knob after bridge repairs.
Milepost 367.6 to 355.3 – Asheville Area
A rockslide and roadway failure has closed the Parkway to all activities including foot traffic and bicycling between the entrance to Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park. The picnic area is accessible driving north from the Asheville area and the state park is accessible via the NC Highway 80 entrance to the Parkway. This road closure will remain in effect until late spring 2009.
The Mount Mitchell route remains open, but traffic on N.C. 80 will be higher than normal due to the road closure.
Milepost 285.5 to 291.8 – Boone/Blowing Rock Area
Goshen Creek Bridge repair has closed the Parkway between US Route 421 east of Boone and US Route 321 south of Boone. The detour will begin for visitors traveling south at milepost 285.5, Bamboo Gap. Visitors will follow state road (SR) 1514 Bamboo Road to Deerfield Road, following the detour signs along US Route 321 south of Boone then connecting back to the Parkway at milepost 291.8.
Visitors traveling north will begin the detour at milepost 291.8, intersection US Route 321; follow the detour signs along US321 to state route 1514 Deerfield Road to Bamboo Road which will bring them back to the Parkway at milepost 285.5. The total detour is estimated to be approximately 8 miles. Bridge repair is anticipated to be complete by late December 2008.
This closure affects the Boone Backroads route.
Warning: Hickory Nut Gap Road descent still in poor shape
As noted in the "Valle Crucis Loop" description, Hickory Nut Gap Road from Hickory Nut Gap to Wildcat Lake near Banner Elk continues to be dicey. Look out for large patches of gravel after heavy rains.
George's Gap was repaved in late 2007. "Beech Ball," "Bulldog's Bite" and the BS&G will be even more fun!
The lower section of Shull's Mill Road in Watauga County has been resurfaced with smooth new pavement. This section of Shull's Mill Road is part of the "Valle Crucis Loop" route.
"The Cove Creek Cruise" is now smoother than ever now that Old U.S. 421 through Cove Creek in Watauga County has been resurfaced.
The worst potholes on the descent from Pottertown Gap described in "The Snake Mountain Loop" have been repaired, but don't get too cocky. The road surface is still less than ideal and caution is still advised on this winding descent.
Some of the worst potholes and washouts on N.C. 194 from Bowers Gap toward Valle Crucis have been patched. This is still a dicey descent and caution is still advised.
High Country groups working hard to protect fragile ecosystems
The High Country environment is under assault from development, clear cutting, even acid rain.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, a prime cycling destination, is becoming the victim of its own popularity. "Developed land in the mountains surrounding the Parkway has increased 77 percent in the last two decades," the Conservation Trust of N.C. reports. In many areas, Parkway views are threatened. Most of the Parkway's publicly owned right of way is just 800 feet wide. In some cases, the right of way is just 50 feet.
The development blitz occurs against a backdrop of National Park Service budget cuts. You'd think the park service would be rolling up its sleeves to protect land along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but NPS is in no position to to stave off encroaching development. "Currently, 57 positions or more than twenty percent of the Parkway's permanent jobs are unfilled, including key management positions such as the Chief Landscape Architect, Chief of Maintenance, Chief of Interpretation and Public Information Officer, and the Parkway has a maintenance backlog of more than $200 million," the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation reported in March 2007.
2006 conservation easement protects Grandfather Mountain's Profile Trail
It is among the most recognized of North Carolina's natural treasures: the features of an old man's profile seen in the rocky outcrops that give Grandfather Mountain its name. The aptly named Profile Trail winds from trout-filled waters at the base of the mountain to the top of its cliffs.
Thanks to the Nature Conservancy and the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a conservation easement will protect the Profile Trail and surrounding lands...more than 73 acres and 3,000 feet on both sides of the Watauga River. The easement on the Profile Trail perpetuates a long legacy of conservation at Grandfather Mountain begun by Hugh Morton, who passed away in June 2006.
-North Carolina Afield, Winter 2006
Conservancy protects tract near the peak of Roan Mountain
Next time you're grinding your way up toward Carver's Gap on the "Climb to Cloudland" route, stop to appreciate the view. A portion of it will be permanently protected, thanks to the efforts of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
In late 2006, the conservancy purchased a 97-acre tract on Hump Mountain to be permanently protected as a nature preserve. The property is part of the 15,148 Roan Mountain massif megasite, a North Carolina natural hertiage area.
The land is a literal stone's throw away from the Appalachian Trail on the crest of Roan Mountain.
-View from the Highlands, Winter 2007
Nature Conservancy working to protect Ashe County peaks
The majestic mountains on the "Buffalo Trail Trek" route are being protected, thanks to the efforts of the N.C. Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups.
All told, about 1,100 acres in the area are currently protected, including 200 recently-acquired acres of northern hardwood forest along the slopes of the Peak in Ashe County. The conservancy has worked with a number of state agencies to protect such regional landmarks as Elk Knob, Long Hope Creek and Three Top Mountain.
-North Carolina Afield, Winter 2006
Snake Mountain summit protected by 2006 land purchase
The climb up Snake Mountain (featured in "The Snake Mountain Loop" route) is grueling, but the view will still be worth it.
The summit of Snake Mountain will be protected from development, thanks to a 2006 donation by Snake Mountain LLC. Snake Mountain LLC donated a conservation agreement on the 130-acre property to the Conservation Trust of North Carolina
and donated the land itself to the High Country Conservancy.
Snake Mountain is the highest peak in Watauga County. The property contains the headwaters of the North Fork of the New River and is located in an area with several globally rare and critically imperiled natural communities and plant species. The property also provides critical linkage between the nationally significant Long Hope Valley ecological site and the Potato Hill / Rich Mountain bald ecological site. The agreement preserves the scenic view along U.S. 421 in Watauga County and Johnson County, Tennessee.
-Conserve Carolina, Spring 2006
Vistas on "The Lump Loop" protected by CTNC
Two scenic areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the High Country are protected from development, thanks to the efforts of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
In early 2006, CTNC donated two properties valued at $711,000 and totaling 134 acres to the National Park Service for inclusion in the Blue Ridge Parkway’s boundaries. The donations preserve key pieces of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s scenic corridor and protect clean streams and valuable wildlife habitat. Both properties were purchased by the Conservation Trust when the organization learned they were threatened by residential development.
The first donated property is a 124-acre tract of land on "The Lump Loop" near E.B. Jeffress Park and the Cascades Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The property is near two other tracts the Conservation Trust previously transferred to the Park Service in 2004. The second property is 10 acres of rolling meadows directly opposite the Grandview Overlook at Milepost 281 northeast of Blowing Rock.
The Conservation Trust was able to act quickly to purchase the first property for $560,000 thanks to a generous donation from Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury. The Conservation Trust used its own funds to purchase the $151,170 Grandview Meadow property. Including these latest donations, the Conservation Trust has now donated 1,432 acres of land, worth over $5 million, to the Parkway.
You can help protected the Blue Ridge Parkway and other beloved places in North Carolina by donating to the Conservation Trust and/or one of its local land trust partners. To learn more about the Conservation Trust and your local land trust, visit www.ctnc.org
-CTNC, May 2006
Land purchases save views, wildlife along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The 2005 purchase will also help protect wildlife habitat and streams feeding the Mitchell River, CTNC officials said. "Saddle Mountain is a spectacular natural feature," said Dan Brown, the parkway's superintendent. "Development of either of these properties would ruin the experience people have traveling this section of the parkway."
The Conservation Trust paid $1.75 million for the two newly acquired properties. The trust plans to give the 201-acre property to the National Park Service to become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
2005 CTNC land acquisitions near E.B. Jeffress Park and Jumpinoff Rock will preserve views and wildlife habitat along the "Lump Loop" route.
-Conserve Carolina, Spring 2005
Blue Ridge Music Center facilities nearing completion
The Blue Ridge Music Center
, a prime attraction on the "Fiddler's Run" route, is nearing completion. The interpretive center- which will contain 2,300 square feet for permanent exhibits, 875 square feet of classrooms and workshops, a 1,155-square-foot lobby for temporary exhibits and a 100-seat auditorium - is the final phase of the Blue Ridge Music Center project.
The center recently received a $100,000 Rural Development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will help pay for design and planning for the exhibits.
The National Council for Traditional Arts (NCTA) and the National Park Service have worked for nearly two decades to complete the center. A more than 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater with informal seating was finished in 2002 and has hosted summer concerts.
The center's exhibits will focus on the origins, evolution and significance of the southern Appalachian music and its impact on other forms of American music. Due to the center's musical orientation, much of the exhibits will rely on film, video, sound recordings and photography, rather than objects hanging on the walls.
"The exhibits are intended to deal with history. What many people don't know is that a lot of American music got invented in Virginia - from that symbolic meeting of the fiddle and banjo, of African and European cultures."
-Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation E-News and the Galax Gazette, March 2, 2005