Kingsport, TN – Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium

It was a relatively warm day today, and we decided to stay close to home. We chose Bays Mountain. We’ve been there several times. We’ve never checked out the Planetarium. We always do a walk at the park. Today we did 4 things at the park.

After we parked and had our picnic, we treked back down the road until you came to where the water flows over the dam. Across the road and down into the woods, you can visit Dolan Branch Falls. It’s not the easiest and most beautiful waterfall to photograph. You don’t get the best angle from the side. If you go down to the bridge and photograph up towards the waterfall it’s not all that pretty because of the rocks / broken trees and branches. But, if you continue across the bridge, you can walk a ways on down the stream and capture some nice photos of the running water.

After we finished here, we then decided to take the 1/2 mile Cliffside Trail. There are a couple of nice overlooks. The actual trail isn’t close to the edge of the cliffs, but you can of course walk to the edge. I wouldn’t recommend it.

After we walked the Cliffside Trail, we went down the the lake, and walked the Lakeside Trail. It’s about 2 1/2 miles around the lake. This is probably the most popular trail in the park. I’d say it’s easy to moderate. There are a few long hills. And, if you go after there has been rain (as we did today), there will be some challenges trying to get around the water and mud on the trail. When you are on the back end of the lake, you can see lots of signs of beaver activity. Lots of little dams built by the beaver.

The last part of the day was spent visiting the animal habitat.

Hope you enjoy our photos. As usual, run your cursor over each photo for a brief description.

Directions to Bays Mountain Park: From Bristol, TN, take I-81 South approximately 18 miles to Exit 57B. Take I-26 approximately 5 miles to Exit 3 (Meadowview Parkway). Turn left. Drive approximately 1 mile and take right fork (Reservoir Rd). Drive another mile and turn right onto Bays Mountain Park Rd. Not far up the road, the road will split. Go left to go into the park. If you’re lucky enough, as you are paying (if I recall correctly, it’s only like $6 per car), the wild turkey will be hanging out at the entrance….853 Bays Mountain Park Rd, Kingsport, TN.

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Abingdon, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail (Watauga Parking to Alvarado Station)

Here I sit on Mother’s Day. The family has just left, and now I’m going to start trying to pay catchup on my blog. I have 6 walks to catch up on. Hopefully I can catch up this week before we take off on our adventures next weekend.

As I previously stated, this 2nd walk of the entire Virginia Creeper Trail is going to be completed by Steve, myself and family. But, it seems like family is just going to include mom. Today, we took an interesting drive to Alvarado Station where we dropped mom’s car off. We then drove to the Watagua Parking area. Luckily there were a couple of spots left.

The walk from Watauga Parking area to Alvarado Station was approximately 5 miles. All flat. This section of the trail had trestles 5 through 12. Well, with the exception of trestle 7. Trestle 7 was previously completely damaged by a tornado in 2011. It’s my understanding that this was the longest trestle on the trail. So now instead of a trestle, you have a dip in the trail. When you start back up the dip, it’s a short area, but it’s kind of steep. You pass over a few more trestles, and then arrive at trestle 12. I think that trestle 12 is now the longest on the trail. Not all that far from trestle 12 you end up at Alvarado Station parking area.

Run your cursor over the photos for a brief description.

Directions to Watauga Trailhead: From Bristol, TN, take I-81N, 17 miles to Exit 17. At end of ramp, take right onto Cummings St. Drive 2.6 miles, and turn left onto Watauga Rd. You will arrive at the Watauga parking area on your left, after about 2 miles…..24350 Watauga Rd, Abingdon, VA.

Directions to Alvarado Station: From Bristol, TN, drive north on I-81 approximately 19 miles and get off on Exit 19. Turn right onto Hwy 58. Travel approximately 4 miles and turn right onto Bethel Rd. Travel 1/2 mile and turn right onto Saturn Dr. Travel 1 1/2 miles and turn right onto Alvarado Rd. In a little over a mile, you should arrive at Alvarado Station on the right….21198 Alvarado Rd, Abingdon, VA.

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Brevard, NC – Hwy 276 Tour (Looking Glass Falls / Moore Cove Falls / Sliding Rock)

Today we decided to head over into North Carolina and hit a few highlights on Hwy 276, outside of Brevard. Steve and I stopped in Asheville, NC, at VegHeads and picked up lunch. When we arrived in Brevard, we took a right onto Hwy 276. After about 3/10 of a mile, we stopped at Sycamore Flats Recreation Area, met up with the family, and had a quick picnic. Then, it was time to head out for today’s adventures.

Looking Glass Falls – We left the picnic area and turned left on Hwy 276. After about 5 1/2 miles, you should see alot of cars lined up one behind the other, on the right. Just find yourself a place to pull in. Walk up the sidewalk and you will see the falls. There are steps that take you down to the foot of the falls. On a warm day it’s so refreshing down at the foot of the falls, feeling the mist off of the falls.

Moore Cove Falls – Pull out from Looking Glass Falls and drive approximately 1 mile. You will come around a curve and see a parking area on your right where everyone is parked at an angle. Head to the north end of the parking area where you will find a trail info center. You will cross the footbridge. The hardest part of the trail is the first 1/10 of a mile or so that takes you up on the ridge. The rest of the trail is relatively easy. It’s approximately 7/10 of a mile to the waterfall. When you arrive at the viewing platform for the falls, you will see a little area to walk between the platform and the rocks. You can then walk behind the waterfall. On each side of the waterfall there is a trail that will take you to the top of the waterfall. I wouldn’t recommend it. We saw some kids up there, and I thought they were totally nuts.

Sliding Rock – Continue up Hwy 276 for another mile or so, to Sliding Rock, on your left. When I was young, one of my best friends from the 1970’s, Christine, always talked about going to North Carolina and going to Sliding Rock. If I recall correctly, she would even show us videos of Sliding Rock. A couple of years ago, finally discovered where Sliding Rock was at. So today, I decided to stop there and take a few photos for my bestie Christine. For those of you not familiar with Sliding Rock, it’s a natural rock face in the river, and you just plop your rear end down and slide down the rock and end up in an 8 foot deep, small pool area. Today it was kind of cool, but there was a couple that was sliding the rock, but they quit and decided to sun themselves, when we arrived.

I hope you enjoy the photos from today. As usual, place your cursor over each photo for a brief description.

Directions: From Johnson City, TN, take I-26 through Asheville, NC. Continue on I-26 until you get to the Asheville Airport exit 40 (Hwy 280). Turn right after you exit. Take Hwy 280 approximately 16 miles where you will turn right onto Hwy 276. Above, you will see the mileage to each area that we enjoyed today.

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Abingdon, VA – Virginia Creeper Trail (Abingdon Trailhead to Watauga Parking)

Over the past couple of years, Steve and I have walked the entire Creeper trail. What we would normally do is park at a parking area. We would head North and walk 1/2 way between our current parking area and the next parking area, then turn around. Then, the next time, we’d drive to the next parking area, and backtrack 1/2 way to the previous parking area, and then turn around. I think you kind of get my drift.

So, we’re walking the entire trail again. This time, family is joining us and we’re going to complete it more quickly. This is by parking at 2 different parking areas, and walking from one parking area to the next.

So, we started from the beginning today. We drove to Watauga parking area and mom dropped her car off. She jumped in the car with us, and we drove to Abingdon. We parked there and walked the 4 miles from Abingdon to Watauga parking area.

The entire Virginia Creeper Trail is a nice flat walk. It starts out in Abingdon, and you first start out by walking by homes / farms / and a golf community. Soon after you start out on the trail, you walk under the Interstate. So, it’s kind of loud for a while. But, eventually, you don’t hear the traffic from the Interstate any longer. It become a nice quiet walk. You then begin walking the trail up above a creek. You walk alongside this creek all the way to Watauga parking area. Before you arrive at the Watauga parking area, you start to come across farm land, and a few homes. I have to say, that there is this really nice house pretty much beside of the Watauga parking area. Their front porch is brick. I love it. Maybe one of these days I can brick my front porch.

Hope you enjoy a few photos from our excursion. Run your cursor over each photos for a brief description.

Directions to Abingdon, VA Trailhead: From Bristol, TN, take I-81N, 17 miles to Exit 17. At end of ramp, take left onto Cummings St. At 2/10 of a mile, turn right onto Green Springs Rd. It’s about 1 mile to the parking area…..201 Pecan St SE, Abingdon, VA.

Directions to Watauga Trailhead: From Bristol, TN, take I-81N, 17 miles to Exit 17. At end of ramp, take right onto Cummings St. Drive 2.6 miles, and turn left onto Watauga Rd. You will arrive at the Watauga parking area on your left, after about 2 miles…..24350 Watauga Rd, Abingdon, VA.

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Breaks, VA – Breaks Interstate Park

Yesterday we visited the “Grand Canyon of the South”, on the Virginia / Kentucky line, in Breaks, VA.

The day started out with an interesting drive. If you drive over from Tennessee, you go through all kinds of tiny towns, stuck in the middle of the mountains. What makes it interesting about some of these towns, is you are driving through some of the Virginia coal mining areas. I wish I had gotten a picture or two. Those little coal mining towns are different and interesting.

But, back to the park. We arrived and did our normal picnic. We then took mom’s car and dropped it off at the back end of the park. We then got everyone in our car, and drove back to the front of the park and parked in the Tower Trail parking area. After we visited the Tower Trail Overlook (only 75 yards from the parking area), we then took a trail through the woods which brings you out at the lodge. You have to walk through the lodge parking lots to pick up the trail on the other end of the lodge. You then take a nice / flat (most of the way) trail that runs alongside the road in the park. You then come upon the Tower Tunnel Trail (only 2/10 mile to overlook). After leaving there, we hit the little trail until we came to Clinchfield Overlook (probably 1/10 mile with quite a few stairs). After visiting here, we hit the Overlook Trail. This is about 3/4 mile walking pretty close to the edge overlooking the gorge. Teresa and mom quickly became a little nervous, and turned around and walked on the road to Stateline Overlook. We continued on Overlook Trail and met up with them at the end. In all, we probably walked about 2 1/2 miles.

Hope you enjoy the beautiful scenery. Also provided you with a few signs that talk about how this area was created. To see a brief description of each photo, run your cursor over the photo.

Directions: From Bristol, TN, take I-81N, 15 miles to Exit 14. The road will end 1/2 mile after coming off of interstate. Take a right. Drive 1 mile and take a left on Bluefield / Porterfield Hwy (19N). Drive 12 miles and take a left onto US58 ALT W. Drive 15 miles to St. Paul. Turn right onto 4th Ave (VA270). After 3/10 mile, turn right onto VA63. Drive 24 miles and turn right onto Dickenson Hwy (VA63 / VA83). Drive 11 miles and turn left and continue on Dickenson Hwy (VA83 / VA80). Drive 8 1/2 miles and take a left into the park……627 Commission Circle, Sand Lick, VA.

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