Nestled among the stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is perfectly positioned to offer easy accessibility to all the famed mountain range has to offer. While the Blue Ridge Mountains extend from Georgia to Pennsylvania, the highest peaks are found in Western North Carolina. Living in Asheville affords the opportunity to enjoy the Blue Ridge almost everywhere you turn.
But what puts the “Blue” in the Blue Ridge? A little science lesson provides the answer: The green trees and thick vegetation that blanket the Blue Ridge emit the hydrocarbon isoprene to protect themselves on excessively hot days. Oak trees, plentiful in these mountains, are particularly active producers of isoprene. When isoprene is released, it interacts with other molecules in the atmosphere. The resulting haze gives the surrounding range its distinctive blue appearance.
With summer upon us and popular spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway opening back up, it’s the perfect time to soak in the “blue” surroundings that have made this region world-famous. Here are a few to check out:
Mount Mitchell Summit and Balsam Nature Trail
This short hike is 31 miles from Asheville along the parkway. A shady balsam-fir forest shrouds the paths to the top of Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet.
Mount Pisgah Trail
You can be to this moderately challenging trail from Asheville in 40 minutes. Hike through lush green forest to reach the tower-capped summit, which offers 360-degree long-range “blue” views.
Craggy Gardens Trail
In season, blooming rhododendron and blueberries line the trail to the grassy mountaintop of Craggy Gardens, 19 miles from Asheville along the parkway. Even when not in bloom, the trail, framed in ghostly gnarled branches, still draws hikers to its surreal beauty.
Graveyard Fields Trail
One of the parkway’s most popular hikes, Graveyard Fields offers waterfalls, gorgeous “blue” views, and wild blueberries and blackberries for picking – all just 34 miles from Asheville.
Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain Loop
A 5-mile loop takes you over two summits, affording amazing views of the blueness surrounding you, from trails that cut through the grassy balds of Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain.
Visitor Center Loop
An easy, smooth hike, the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center loop offers the perfect terrain for youngsters or those not wanting to venture too far into the woods or too far away from the parking area.
And for some even closer opportunities to immerse yourself in the “blue” of the Blue Ridge:
This trail, accessible at the end of Town Mountain Road in Craven Gap, is 15 minutes from downtown Asheville, but feels worlds away. It’s proximity to the city, easy hiking, and beautiful backdrop make it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike – including President Obama and wife Michelle, who hiked the trail during a 2010 visit to the area.
Folk Art Center Trail to Bull Mountain
A popular, well-maintained spot located just outside the city limits, the Folk Art Center Trail winds along the Mountains to Sea Trail, a rolling path interspersed with short steep climbs.
If you’re interested in finding an Asheville-area home from which to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains every day, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.
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