Monthly Archives: January 2016

Backpacking in the Smokies and Asheville, Part III

When last we spoke, I described us having to leave the trail, cutting our trip a day short.

We had an appointment in Asheville the following day, so we grabbed a hotel for the night.  Honestly, we’ll jump at any chance to spend some more time in downtown Asheville, we love it!

The following morning, we headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway.  In our wedding planning process, we had been tossing around the idea of getting married off the Parkway.  By now, you all know how important the outdoors are to us and our relationship.  Our first date was a hiking trip, we got engaged on a canoe camping trip, it only made sense to get married in nature.  So we spent our morning checking out some of the places on our list of possible ceremony spots.  At the top of our list was Craggy Gardens, an area 20 miles north of Asheville.  There are two trails in Craggy Gardens:

  • the Craggy Gardens Trail, which snakes through rock gardens
  • The Craggy Pinancle Trail, which overlooks the gardens and several other mountains

So, we checked out Craggy Gardens first.  The trail is short, and travels over mostly flat ground through short wind-gnarled trees.  It looks like a fairy forest!  After about a 10 minute walk, you come to an awesome shelter with a gravel floor.  Just past the shelter is

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Craggy Gardens Trail

Next up was the Craggy Pinnacle trail.  The forest on the first part of the Craggy Pinnacle Trail is very similar to Craggy Gardens, but this trail climbs higher, out of the forest.  The trail is a bit steeper than Craggy Gardens, and is about a mile to the overlook.  Above the forest, the Craggy Pinnacle area is home to plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.  We came up to the lower overlook, and it was gorgeous.  On a clear day, you can see Mt Mitchell (where we had our first date).  We knew right away we had found the perfect place for our wedding.

Standing on the overlook, we noticed the stone was missing from my engagement ring.  The stone survived 2 backpacking trips and a paddling trip, but it didn’t survive a day hike.  We knew immediately that it was a lost cause trying to find my ring – a greenish-grey stone on a gravel trail surrounded by grass.  We were really bummed out about it, until we talked with a friend of ours.  Her take on it was that now, a piece of us will always be on this trail.

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Lower Overlook on Craggy Pinnacle Trail

After checking out this area, we had to head back to Asheville to meet with a prospective photographer.  She asked us to a coffee shop in West Asheville (Odd’s Cafe) we hadn’t checked out before.  We knew we were going to like it when we walked in – there was a T-Rex holding a cup of coffee painted on the wall!  We had a good cup of coffee, and a great conversation with the woman we ended up booking for our wedding photographer.

So our trip, on the whole, had some ups and downs.  Our backpacking trip didn’t go quite as planned.  But we finally found the perfect place for our wedding ceremony, we decided on our wedding photographer, and we had some awesome food and coffee!

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