Time to Hit the Road
These drives are suggested for their scenic beauty. They are particularly breathtaking during the fall, but if you choose to take a drive in the spring, they should be equally beautiful. Enjoy and travel safely.
High Country - Valle Crucis and Boone Area
Original Store to Blue Ridge Parkway
From the Original Store turn left on Highway 194 and then turn right to continue on Highway 194 in front of Valle Crucis Elementary School. This road is very twisty turny – and was one of the county’s finest when it was surveyed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As you pass by the Valle Crucis Conference Center, you’ll drive by many acres of land that have been put into a conservation trust ensuring that they will retain their scenic and agrarian nature.
Follow Highway 194 to its intersection with Highway 184 in Banner Elk and turn left on Highway 184. Highway 184 will take you to Highway 105. Turn right on Highway 105 South to Linville. At the intersection with Highway 221 in Linville turn left on Highway 221 North. This will take you by the entrance of Grandfather Mountain, the only privately owned United Nations Biosphere Preserve in the world! Soon, you will have a choice. You can take Highway 221 North to Blowing Rock, which was a part of the Linville Turnpike and also known as the Yonahlossee Trail in the early 1900s. Or you can take the Blue Ridge Parkway North toward Blowing Rock.
The Parkway route will take you across the Linn Cove Viaduct, which the last segment of the scenic drive to be completed. It is constructed of 153 pre-cast concrete sections that are held together with epoxy and steel tendons. Crossing this marvel of a bridge in any season provides spectacular views.
Original Store to the Tennessee Line
When leaving the Original Store, turn right out of the parking lot onto Highway 194. Follow that a short distance and turn left on Mast Gap Road. At the intersection with Highway 321 in Sugar Grove, turn left, then just a short distance away turn right on Old Highway 421 (the Cove Creek Store will be on the right and the Sugar Grove Post Office is on the left). Old Highway 421 goes through Cove Creek, Amantha, and Zionville and has a gentle grade. It passes by farm land and homes, old stores, barns, etc. It also has some great views of Snake Mountain and Tater Hill. When it intersects with "new" Highway 421, turn right to come back into Boone.
This route is also a local favorite for bicycle rides that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Park at the Old Cove Creek School (a big rock building on the right that you'll see shortly after you turn onto Old Highway 421...it is across the creek, but you'll see how to get there).
Waynesville to Hot Springs
From Main Street in Waynesville, also called Highway 276, continue on Highway 276 to US 19. Turn right, and travel approximately 2 miles to Exit 104. Exit, and bear left, onto Highway 209. You will travel 43 miles, about 1 hour, to Hot Springs. This quaint little town is known for its healing hot mineral springs, beautiful surroundings, and its easy access to great outdoor activities. The French Broad River passes very close, offering lots of rafting and kayaking. Also Max Patch is a beautiful hiking, camping and picnic area. The Appalachian Trail also crosses at Hot Springs. There are lots of places to stay, if you want to overnight, and great food. A wonderful place to stay and relax, or have a great day trip.
Waynesville to Lake Logan
From Main Street in Waynesville, turn onto South Highway 276. Travel 5.7 miles, and turn left on Lake Logan Road. It is 5.8 miles to Lake Logan, and the Lake Logan Conference Center. Approximately 6 miles past the lake, you will enter the Middle Prong and Shining Rock Wilderness Areas. Lots of camping, hiking and fishing opportunities. This same road, Highway 276, intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway, which you can take toward Asheville, or back toward Waynesville. It’s a beautiful drive along the Parkway. This part of the 469-mile roadway takes you across some of the highest peaks along its length.
Asheville to Lake Lure
Off the well-loved path of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville locals enjoy an annual fall trek along one of our favorite drives just north of the city. Make an afternoon of it and enjoy the apple orchards, pick up a pumpkin at a roadside stand, or take a tour at a local farm. You’ll find something for every member of the family to enjoy along US-74, through Bat Cave and Chimney Rock, then into Lake Lure, NC.
If you’re starting your journey at the Mast General Store in Downtown Asheville, take I-240 East toward Oteen. Travel 3.5 miles to Exit 9, marked as US-74 “Blue Ridge Pkwy/Bat Cave” also named “Charlotte Highway”. Nine miles into your journey, you’ll see signs for Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Definitely make time to stop in for a visit by taking a left on Sugar Hollow Road. The Farm is located on a gorgeous plot of land nestled in the mountains. They offer hay and pony rides, culvert slides, a chance to pet the farm animals, and a corn maze! The best of fall is all right here at Hickory Nut Gap. You could spend all day on the farm, but make time for the next stop and don’t forget to purchase a steaming cup of apple cider for your upcoming leg of the trip to Lake Lure.
Head back north on to Charlotte Hwy/US-74 by talking a sharp left off Sugar Hollow Road. The road twists and winds dramatically through the mountains, so slow down, take your time and enjoy the incredible views. This 15-mile trek will take you through the quaint town of Bat Cave, NC, past the impressive Chimney Rock (both worthwhile stops in their own right), and alongside gorgeous Lake Lure. You’ll pass the Lake Lure Marina where hour-long boat tours take visitors along the perimeter of the Lake. The dramatic orange, red, and yellow hued mountains are made doubly beautiful by their reflections off the lake. The boat tours are affordable and very popular, so be sure to call ahead to book your spot. Even if you don’t have time for a tour, there are plenty of walking trails to take in the stunning fall scenery and the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a fantastic spot to enjoy the work of local gardeners along the water’s edge.
If you depart Lake Lure just in time for the sun to sink behind the ridgelines, you’ll enjoy the brilliant hillsides set off by sunset’s matching oranges and golds as you make the 30-mile drive back to Asheville. It will take about an hour – just enough time to work up an appetite to quench at one of our favorite downtown eateries. We suggest Early Girl on Wall Street for down home southern fare or Pack’s Tavern on Spruce Street for an All-American meal that’ll end the day with your tummy full of tasty food and your heart full of gladness.
A great Upstate drive is the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway. It is Highway 11 and runs from Fair Play, SC to Gaffney, SC. This 112-mile drive follows the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and takes the traveler past many of the Upstate's lakes, state parks, beautiful hiking trails, heritage preserve landmarks, peach orchards and a famous American Revolutionary War battlefield. This was originally a trail of the Cherokee Indians known as Keowee Path or Cherokee Path and was used by English and French fur traders.
You can learn more about what you'll see by following this link: Scenic11.com.