OK, so I've been sick this past week, and want to get back into hiking. Plus it's been a while since I've lead a hike.
Let's start off February with a short, moderate-to-difficult 4.6 mile hike to Lunch Rock and back. Lunch Rock has a nice view of Haw Creek Valley, and is very close to town.
****NOTE: It is rare that the NPS closes the Blue Ridge Parkway around US 70 and the Folk Art Center. I will reschedule the hike if that happens.
Meet at: the lower parking lot at the Folk Art Center (milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway) at 9:15 AM. NOTE: You want the public parking lot of the Folk Art Center, accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. If your GPS device sends you to the Folk Art Center via Riceville Road, don't go that way--Riceville Road is the staff/service entrance!!! When you pull into the Folk Art Center driveway, go past the first right (which is usually pretty full with cars anyway) and take the second right. We will set out promptly at 9:30 AM north on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST).
Distance: 2.3 miles one-way, 4.6 miles out-and-back
Time: about 2.5 - 3 hours; we should be back by 12:30 pm or so at the very latest.
Rating: moderate, with a couple of difficult spots involving climbing up hills.
Pace: about 2 - 2.5 mph, which means we should reach the rock in about an hour. Please try to stay with the group, not getting too far ahead or lagging too far behind.
Elevation gain: going north, about[masked] feet.
What to bring: Water, appropriate clothing, trail snacks, camera, binoculars.
Dogs: You are welcome to bring your dog, but please put him or her on a leash since we will be close (within 100 feet) to the Blue Ridge Parkway with its 35-45 mph car traffic at all times during the hike. Also, there won't be any streams, so bring extra water for your dogs.
Thanks to Trish Brown, author of the book "Asheville Trail Running" from which this hike is adopted.
Thanks and we'll see you on the trail!