With every passing week, I can feel that spring is getting closer. I suppose that making a point to go on a weekly hike is helping me to notice this a little sooner than I normally would. While I love winter and the snowy, cold weather that it brings, it can sometimes cause me to stay stuck in hibernation mode. Lately, though, I've been a whole lot more motivated to get outside and enjoy the warm weather we are awarded instead of being a hermit.
This week's hike was the Green Knob Loop Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 295.9) in Julian Memorial Price Park. I've always liked hiking this trail because it's only moderately strenuous, and because it offers a variety of habitats to experience in a short 2.1 mile round trip trek.
Starting at Sim's Pond, where you can oftentimes find anglers casting away, you'll pass the pond and travel through a rhododendron lined path that takes you into a forest of mixed hardwoods. As you find your way further into the woods, you'll come across some impressively large hemlocks towering over above head.
During this hike, there are a few creek crossing that require a little rock hopping, but nothing major to contend with. The first half is pretty mild, actually, and is a pleasant way to commune with nature since you can stroll at a snail's pace. For hikes that tend to be more strenuous, I find myself not wanting to stop and take pictures as much as I do when I'm hiking one that's easier. This way, I have more time to focus on the tiny details that can often be overlooked when all I care about is the next level surface to catch my breath.
Around the half-way point of the Green Knob Trail, the forest will recede and present an open pasture to meander. You'll pass through the fence stile to enter the meadow. This area is oftentimes littered with grazing cows. However, I imagine that it's probably too early in the year for that. As you ascend the gently rolling hills, follow the concrete trail markers to continue along the proper path. This would be a very nice spot to pop-a-squat if you felt like taking a break, though. There's also a bench beneath a tree if you don't want to spread out on the grass for fear of coming in contact with colossal cow patties.
As you leave the pastoral landscape you'll reenter the woods after a slightly steep ascent. This was the only part of the trail that got me huffing and puffing, although it still wasn't hard to reach the top. From there, it was all downhill. There's one point where you can see Grandfather Mountain & Price Lake, in the distance, as you're descending the trail. And the ridge line of Grandfather Mountain comes into an even better view once you're a little further along.
After leaving and reentering the forest through a couple more fence stiles—before you know it—you've reached the end! It spits you out on the other side of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is slightly disorienting. However, your car is just across the street. Compared to the Elk Knob hike I did the week before, the Green Knob trail was easy peasy. The elevation gain for this hike was only 460 feet while Elk Knob was approximately 1,000 feet, and it was only 1.3 miles long, whereas Green Knob was 2.1. Green Knob probably should have been my first hike of the season to break back into it instead of killing myself on Elk Knob!
There are many hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway that are close to Boone. This is one that I hike a few times each year because of how varied (and moderate) it is. And it's even more beautiful during the Spring and Fall because of the pretty wildflowers that appear. According to the things I have read about Green Knob, it's best to hike in April or August during the peak bloom times. I know I'll be going back to see what shows up!
I highly recommend the Green Knob Loop hike for people of all ages and fitness levels. It would be a great family hike. While this particular Blue Ridge Parkway trail doesn't have the same long range views that many of the others have, it's still a really enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. I'm thinking that when I go back in the Spring we'll bring a picnic to snack on—that is, if the cows aren't around!
- If you missed last week's hike, click here: My Quest to Conquer Elk Knob