Fall Hike on the Rattlesnake Lodge Trail
- October 06, 2015 |
While our thoughts are with our neighbors to the south who received the brunt of this past week’s storms, folks in the Blue Ridge Mountains are drying out and hitting the trails in search of brilliant fall colors. Some leaves fell with the wind and rain, but the good news is that premature color change and bare trees appear to be a minor issue in Western North Carolina. If you find yourself in the Asheville area in the coming weeks, check out a local’s favorite along the Mountains-to-Sea trail just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway were closed this weekend due to the inclement weather, and Parkway staff members are still in the process of clearing downed trees and rocks in some areas. Use the Real Time Road Map HERE as a guide to help you plan your route.
A portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Bull Gap is temporarily closed, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the beautiful, dense forest in that area. The Rattlesnake Lodge Trail is a family favorite, and you can still access this trail from an open portion of the Parkway, as well as from North Asheville.
The Rattlesnake Lodge Trail begins by ascending the rounded end of Bull Mountain through a series of about a dozen switchbacks, climbing so gradually that you'll go through most of them before you even begin to break a sweat. The trail is so well-built and maintained that parents feel secure taking smaller children in a hiking carrier on their backs. Also, bigger kids can safely hike the trail with very little assistance. There are quite a few rock outcroppings along the way where you can stop and view the Blue Ridge Parkway below and gorgeous mountain peaks in the distance. You’ll gain about 550 feet in elevation over a 2.6 mile stretch.
The trail is canopied by gorgeous hardwoods and carpeted by a stunning variety of wildflowers and leathery lichens. A Rattlesnake Lodge favorite is the many beautiful Sassafras trees. If you spot a fresh Sassafras leaf on the ground, pick it up and chew on the stem. They’re refreshing, delicious, and taste just like root beer. It’s no surprise that root beer used to be made from the Sassafras tree!
The hike ends at the ruins of the Rattlesnake Lodge, which was built in the early 1900s and burned in 1926. You’ll be entranced by the “remains of an early 20th century retreat, built by one of WNC's historically affluent and conservation-minded citizens.” Read more about the fascinating history of the home by clicking HERE.
There are two ways to access the trailhead: From Downtown Asheville, take Town Mountain Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north by turning left on the Parkway. In about 1.4 miles, you’ll see a sign for Weaverville. Take a left here onto Ox Creek Road, where you’ll drive up a steep climb for about 0.5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parking area is marked by boulders on your right.
From Weaverville, NC (14 miles north of Downtown Asheville), drive up Ox Creek Road and the parking area will be on your left. For an interactive GPS map and more helpful information, click HERE.
Much like in winter, shortened daylight, lower temperatures, wet fallen leaves, and quickly changing conditions may present obstacles, but they’re all easy to safely navigate with proper planning. Take a look at THESE Nine Essential Hiking Tips from one our resident hiking experts, Outdoor Area Manager Dan, at the Mast Store Asheville.
Also, be sure to check out the Fall Foliage Primer HERE. It includes lots of good information about other hikes, drives, and fall events to enjoy in Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the trail!