Mt. Mitchell to Little Switzerland Adventure

 Nice sunny day drive to Mt. Mitchell.

Our family tries our hardest to be tourists in our own state.  We have made a point to explore as many areas as possible.  Last weekend we set off for Mt. Mitchell to do some hiking and sight seeing.  It had been a couple years since our last visit and we we were due to get back and to get Greta out into the mountains.

Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak on the east coast at 6, 684 feet.  It is just a 3.5 hour drive from Greensboro.

Once in the Mt. Mitchell area there are other nice areas to visit, such as:

The funky town of Asheville is another hour to the west.  It is home home of the Biltmore Estate, Highland Brewing Company – maker of my favorite beer, and my favorite restaurant of all time – The Laughing Seed Cafe

(Previous trip for a friends’ wedding – Looking Glass Waterfall, near Brevard, NC. )
Pisgah National Forest pretty much surrounds you with its beauty.  This waterfall was just off the road on one of our visits.   

(Previous trip Eric took on the Blue Ridge Parkway via bicycle)

You can easily hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a gorgeous drive with quaint stops along the way.  You are sure to see cyclists, bikers, and plenty of classic cars.

Views from Mt. Mitchell area.

On this past Saturday, we followed the route used by the Assault on Mt. Mitchell bike ride from Marion, NC to the top of Mt. Mitchell.  I can see how grueling of a race this would be, as it starts in Georgia and ends at the highest peak, in North Carolina, oh puke.  The climbs are huge and at the end of a long day’s ride.

Tunnels are a part of the Mt. Mitchell and Blue Ridge Parkway experience.  

Once we got to Mt. Mitchell it was overcast and rainy.  It was nice to have some relief from the hot temperatures in Greensboro.  This was also the first time we had been in the mountains when the rhododendrons were blooming – we usually visit in the fall or early spring and miss these beautiful pink blooms.

View from the viewing deck at the top of Mt. Mitchell. 
The clouds almost obscured the road below.

Views from the top of Mt. Mitchell were a less than clear on Saturday.  It was still beautiful and eerie to be surrounded by clouds.  We headed off on a hike shortly after doing the obligatory visit to the summit.

Mt. Mitchell trails were a little muddy.
The flora of North Carolina forests consists of a great deal of moss and ferns.  
North Carolina forests can be almost jungle-like.
We had to cut our hike short due to thunder and impending rain.  When we got back to the parking lot it looked like this:

We had a quick picnic and then headed back to the car. 
We were determined to enjoy cool mountain air, rain or no rain, we headed east on the Blue Ridge Parkway towards a favorite town of ours: Little Switzerland.  I do not remember the story of how we discovered this little gem, but it is a great place to visit.  We keep saying one of these days we will stay an entire weekend, and not just the day trip.  

Even the curbs are curvy in Little Switzerland.

Trucks cool brakes next right. 

Little Switzerland is a twisty town just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It consists of hotels, motels, diners, coffee shops, art galleries, a post office, and other vacation necessities all nestled along the curves and turns of this cute town.  To get to Little Switzerland you have to take the twists and turns of mountain roads.  
Greta ready for lunch at the Little Switzerland Cafe.

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at the Little Switzerland Cafe.  This little roadside diner is a true diner with typical diner decor, friendly staff, and a great local menu.  They have a smoked salmon and smoked trout BLT that is to die for.  Their dessert menu is fantastic and they have a list of beers that includes some good local picks.  
If you are a North Carolinian and you have yet to get to this region of the state, get there as soon as you can.  If you live elsewhere, consider North Carolina for your next vacation.  I promise you will not regret it.  To see the coastal part of North Carolina, see my previous post here

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