This first week in August, 2012, enjoy guided hikes in the Asheville, NC Area of the Western Mountains of North Carolina and learn more about the history, flora and fauna of our mountain region as well as enjoying a good little hike, amazing views, stunning waterfalls – all with an experienced and knowledgable guide.

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers free guided hikes with a Park Ranger throughout the summer months in the Asheville, NC area. The next will be this Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 from 7-8:30 pm, meeting at Milepost 393 (on the north side of the French Broad River Bridge).    This hike will be an easy one along the Mountains-to-Sea trail with a focus on the French Broad River and its impact and importance to the Asheville and Western NC area.

And if you can’t make the Thursday evening hike, another guided hike with a Blue Ridge Parkway Park Ranger will be on Friday August 3rd, meeting at Rough Bald Butt overlook at 10:00 am, Milepost Marker 425 for an easy 3 mile round trip hike through the Middle Prong Wilderness area, focusing on the amazing biodiversity of the Mountain Region of Western NC.

For either of the above Parkway hikes this week, be sure and make a reservation by contacting the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center at 828 298 5330, ext 304.  Bring water, wear good hiking/walking shoes, be prepared for the weather!

Waterfall Fridays, all summer – always a treat at Chimney Rock Park –  this Friday August 3rd, with your park paid admission, join a complimentary guided hike to Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 tall waterfall, the tallest of its kind, east of the Mississippi – sure to be cranking with all this rain.  Meet in front of the Cliff Dwellers Gifts at 11:00 am.  No reservations are needed for this first come first serve hike, but there is a 25 person limit for the hike.  A Park Naturalist/guide will share information about plant and animal life as well as a bit about the park history.

Getting there: To get to the Parkway and/or Chimney Rock Park from Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast and downtown Asheville, take Biltmore Avenue South through Biltmore Village (where it becomes Hendersonville Rd.), go under I-40 and take the right hand clover-leaf ramp that will put you on I-40 heading EAST at exit number 50.  Drive 3 miles on I-40 to exit 53-A and exit towards Bat Cave, Blue Ridge Parkway.  Merge onto 74-A.  Just before the first light (comes up pretty quick) on 74-A, take a right turn onto an entrance ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway, or stay on 74-A for another 21 miles to Chimney Rock Park.

There are plenty of gas stations, groceries, etc. along 74-A, but be sure and gas and food up if you are getting onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.