Friday, June 13, 2014

A Day Along the Parkway: Cascade Falls & Mabry Mill

After two weeks of non-stop work and workouts, we decided to take a leisurely drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. During a last minute decision making process we both realized that we always drive South on the parkway toward Asheville, but we've never driven North. Not sure why that is, but today we headed north, with dogs in tow,  toward Virginia with no particular destination in mind.

Our first spontaneous stop was at E.B. Jeffress Park (mile post 271.9) where we accessed the Cascade Falls Trail. This short, easy, one-mile interpretive trail follows a well-maintained gravel path through a hardwood forest, and down a short series of stone steps to view the falls from both the top (looking down the falls) and the bottom (looking up the falls).

Cascade Falls Trailhead
View of Cascade Falls

On the way back up, we passed a beautiful fire pink and a huge (5ft. tall) Solomon Seal.

Next, we made our way North to Mabry Mils (milepost 176.2) to visit the most photographed site.  This stop is an interpretive site featuring one of the most complex water flumes for its time. The gristmill is in its original location (unlike many structures along the parkway that have been relocated), and also features a blacksmith shop and saw mill. Unfortunately, it's still early in the season and interpretive programs are not yet available during weekdays.

After walking around the mill and relaxing with the dogs, it was nearing dinner time. There is a restaurant located in the Mills visitors shop, but we wanted to venture out to find some local fare. The ladies at the information desk offered up many suggestions for places to eat in Floyd (VA 8, milepost 165.3), 11 miles north along the Parkway, then five miles to Floyd once exiting. We chose to eat at a new restaurant called the The Artist's Table, which serves local, organic food. This place was such a great find and certainly worth the extra 15-mile drive! We got to eat outside on the porch with the dogs, the staff were incredibly nice, and food was amazing! We'll definitely be going back.

(Clockwise: Dudley, Hershey, Jasmine, Dinner, Dessert  Photo courtesy of Cori Holladay)