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Take Mom for a Hike on Mother’s Day, May 8

Do you suppose the original Mother’s Day organizers thought about how wonderful the weather is during this time of year when it was decided that Mother’s Day would always be celebrated on the second Sunday in May, or was it simply a lucky accident? Whatever the reason, Mother’s Day is a great day to get the family together for some real family time – and get Mom and the whole crew outside in the sunshine for a day of hiking in these beautiful mountains at any one of the many great hiking trails in our area. Follow it up with a casual dinner at her favorite restaurant, and you’ve got something that will always be looked back on with fond memories.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a very convenient and logical place to head for an afternoon hike – whether Mom and her crowd are beginners or expert fitness folks, there are plenty of options for everyone just off the Parkway. A good starting point is Craggy Gardens, located about twenty miles north of hendersonville at Milepost 364.4. This popular stop is ideal for a family picnic, and offers nature exhibits, comfort stations, and lots of information on the Parkway and the Pisgah National Forest. The visitors center is open May through October.

Mount Pisgah, located at Parkway Milepost 407.4, is a great – although fairly short – hike, but it is not for the faint of heart. Although the winding trail to the summit is only about a mile, the degree of difficulty ranges from moderate to strenuous. Those who are healthy but not in tip-top shape should just decide ahead of time to take it a little slower and stop here and there for a rest. The hike is definitely worth the effort – 360 degrees of incredible mountain scenery is the pay-off. Many summit-seekers bring a light picnic lunch to share on the visitors deck at the summit. Although hikers have to share the mountaintop with a giant television tower, there is room for everyone at the top.

Just south of Mount Pisgah is the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and US Highway 276, which leads to the Brevard area and the Cradle of Forestry (a paved trail through the Cradle of Forestry takes visitors back in history), Sliding Rock, and the Pisgah Fish Hatchery, where hikers can pick up a trail that leads to the top of the very spectacular Looking Glass Rock. Looking Glass Rock trail begins at the top of the road that leads to the Pisgah Fish Hatchery.

Of course, it’s much easier just to stay on the Parkway and catch the incredible view of Looking Glass Rock, a massive monolith that is one of the largest masses of granite in the eastern US, at Milepost 417.

Graveyard Fields, located at Milepost 418.8, has some great trails – all of which include water – that cater to any kind of hiker, and can be made long or short, depending on how much time can be dedicated to it. For those who are feeling a bit on the lazy side, there are two short trails that lead to a mountain stream with some fun rocks to sit on or climb across. These are pretty popular spots, so be prepared to share your space with others. There is also a longer trail that mostly follows another part of the stream through a meadow before ascending into the mountains – the reward for your efforts is a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail.

Hikers can head back into town for dinner at Mom’s favorite restaurant, but a really great choice on the Parkway is the Pisgah Inn. The food is very good, the service is pleasant, and the view is like nothing else on Earth. Unfortunately for those who have worked up an appetite, the Pisgah Inn does not accept reservations, so be prepared to wait – and wait. But the Inn has a deck on the back of the building that makes passing the time a real treat instead of drudgery – a glass of wine or iced tea, and the time will fly by. Another thing to prepare for is the cool temperature, not to mention the constant breeze that sweeps up the mountainside – if you chill easily, bring a jacket or a sweatshirt, no kidding.

However Mom decides to spend her day, make it a special one. Happy Mother’s Day!

(Image provided by Grandfather Mountain.)

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