Spring Forward

Ice melting on mountain side

Trail in early March

On Sunday, daylight savings time and unusually seasonable weather combined into the perfect early Spring Sunday.  Of course, we decided to spend it hiking, so after some quick research of nearby trails, we headed toward an open section of the Blue Ridge Parkway for a 2-hour trek through the mountains.  From East Asheville, we headed North, stopping briefly at the Folk Art Center before continuing our ascent by car, with our sights set on the Craven Gap Trail about five miles from this landmark.

Craven Gap is a section of the Mountain to Sea trail, North Carolina’s longest trail. As the name suggest, it stretches the entire state.  The section we discovered faces mostly South, making it ideal for an early spring hike.  The partly cloudy day meant that we needed light layers. The March wind kept it slightly on the chilly side, but the sun made enough of an appearance, even through winter, to melt the ice sickles and sustain and an outcropping of wild cactus at the higher elevation.

The trail starts at mile marker 377.4, at an elevation of 3,200.  At the highest just after a mile, we were approximately 3,450 feet above sea level, clearly establishing this part of the Mountain to Sea trail as the mountain end.  At just five miles out-of-town and a total out-and-back of just under 4.5 miles, it also makes for a great afternoon hike.

For more Asheville hiking resources, visit Explore Asheville and HikeWNC. Also, don’t forget to check for closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway.