Head to Craggy Gardens, a rocky rhododendron forest filled with wildflowers and fields of blueberries located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 364.4. The best time of year to see these natural gardens is in June, when the fields of rhododendron peak with pink and purple blossoms. Meanwhile, hikers can take a short 1/3 of a mile trek along the Craggy Gardens Trail from the Visitor Center parking lot.
The Great Craggy Mountains encompass an area of approximately 194 square miles and are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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There is no shortage of activities to take in along the Great Craggy Mountains. With numerous exhibits depicting the area’s natural wildlife and the region’s history, visitors have plenty to explore.
Travelers pressed for time can take a short hike up the Craggy Pinnacle Trail to behold the magnificent panoramic views and endless forests. Hikers can enjoy a picnic in many of the park’s designated campgrounds. The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is an easy mile-long round trip hike up to stunning 360-degree views of the southern Appalachian ridges. The parking area for the trail is at milepost 361, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Other trails include access to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and just north of the Craggies is the Mt. Mitchell State Park, with the highest peak east of the Mississippi. The jagged, rocky edges of these high elevation summits leave tourists in awe.
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The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center off milepost 364.4, has multiple trailheads to choose from. It's also great for maps, area information, and exhibits. In addition, there's a prime picnic area at milepost 367.6. The Visitor Center lies in the heart of the Craggy Gardens. In addition, this stop has a gift shop with souvenirs, t-shirts, books and other trinkets. The restroom is located down a flight of stone steps without handicap accessibility. However, the restrooms at the Craggy Gardens Picnic area are accessible.
Day trips and picnics are encouraged, but Craggy Gardens does not offer sleeping options. For accommodations, the closest campground is in Crabtree Falls.