This past week Luke and I took our girls on a mini vacation to Boone, NC to enjoy some time together before our baby arrives and busies up life. After several beach vacations in a row it was refreshing to head West for a change! We had a relaxing few days roaming the woods, swimming in the hotel’s indoor pool, and introducing the girls to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. People are often asking me what my favorite trails are so here is a bit of a review of two we explored should you ever find yourself in want of a family friendly hike out that way.
Cascade Falls (Boone, NC)
Back in July, Luke and I attended a free seminar at REI titled “Best Waterfalls and Swimming Holes in North Carolina.” It was presented by Casey Marcum of http://www.wildncwaterfalls.com. Cascade Falls (photo) was one of the ones he tagged “a great family friendly hike.” So bright and early we left our hotel and headed North on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find this trail. It turned out to be the perfect trail for wee feet. The girls loved hiking along the creek and discovering the waterfall. And there are great photo spots at the falls.
Difficulty: None. It’s a leisurely 30 minute hike around a loop. You do descend about 30 stairs to get to the Fall’s lower overlook that were a bit daunting for our 2-yr-old but not for our 4-yr-old. She didn’t seemed phased at all.
Located: In the E.B. Jeffress Park, between mile markers 271 and 272 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most visitor centers in the area have a free map of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parking lot is just a turn off directly off the Parkway. There are signs at the edge of the parking lot marking the location. If you are facing the mountain view, the trail starts to your left. Head right or left at the first fork (it’s a loop). If you head left (towards the “MST” trail) it follows the creek to the waterfall. Just note that a little ways down this way there is a second turn off for the “MST” Trail. Ignore that and stay to the right for the falls. The waterfall is at the half way point along the loop.
Facilities: There are a few picnic tables and a bathroom at the parking lot. However, the bathroom was closed mid-week. They might just open them up on the weekends or it might not be maintained anymore. I’m not sure which one it is so be prepared to find a tree if the need arises.
Rendezvous Mountain (near Wilkesboro, NC)
On our way home we were simply looking for a nice place to eat our picnic lunch and stumbled upon Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Park. They have two trails that are also great for young kids: The Saw Mill trail and the Talking Trees Trail. Each trail has a electronic push-button at each exhibit/tree that once activated gives a bit of information. It was fun, but more than that, the drive up the mountain and the view was incredible. There are picnic tables near the Saw Mill Exhibit Trail (no bathrooms) as well as a couple tables up near the Ranger Office (bathrooms available).