The Blue Ridge Parkway which is the United States longest linear park has been the most popular travel destination on the eastern side of the country for almost 70 years. It begins in the Shenandoah National park in Virginia and snakes it way south into North Carolina for over 460 miles until it reaches its conclusion in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park bordering the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The construction began in late 1935 and lasted until 1987 when it was finally finished with the completion of the Linn Cove Viaduct which wraps over 7 miles around Grandfather Mountain. Every year the parkway receives over 12 million visitors and tourists and is renowned for its breathtaking views, abundant wildlife and also for its cultural and historic regional exhibits.
Not only does the Blue Ridge Parkway offer cultural and historic places, it is also home to an abundance of recreational areas that offer a wide variety of activities such as camping, picnicking, climbing, fishing and even hiking. There are literally hundreds of hiking trails to be explored and they range from just a few hundred feet long to almost 15 miles in length. Some trails are fairly easy and have almost no change in elevation while some of the most strenuous treks feature steep mountain paths and rocky, unstable terrain. These hiking trails are not for the faint of heart and hikers should prepare in advance just to make sure that they are able capable of making the entire journey safely. Make sure you are in good shape and bring enough food and water to keep your energy and hydration at optimum levels.
You can expect to find all sorts of plant life and wildlife all along the many trails scattered throughout the parkway. Because of the more than 6000 feet of elevation change throughout the parkway the plant life can be vastly different depending on where you are located. There is also an abundance of wildlife that can be found if you know just where to look. Animals such as squirrels, whitetail deer, snakes, skunks, hundreds of types of birds and even black bear are roaming throughout the parkway. If you encounter a black bear please do not try an approach them as they have been know to be aggressive at certain times.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is truly a hikers paradise and the things I have mentioned above are just a few of the reasons that make it one of the most popular travel destinations on the east coast. I truly enjoy hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway and I hope you will also.
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