The Blue Ridge Parkway.
I love to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway. When the hubby decided to take Friday off from work, I knew that we would definitely be having a day of exploration.
We often use parts of the Parkway to get to various areas of the surrounding towns. It’s a mellow, scenic drive.
We decided that we would head South with our final destination being Mabry Mill (one of the most photographed sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway). Since this was considered “my day”, we pulled off at almost every overlook.
One of those overlooks is at milepost 168.0.
The Saddle Overlook.
The Saddle Overlook is at an elevation of 3,381 ft. It is a ridge connecting two high points on Rocky Knob Mountain and forms a portion of the Blue Ridge Crest line. The view from the parking lot is facing East.
…but if you turn to the West…
The view across the roadway is of Buffalo Mountain.
Buffalo Mountain, in Floyd County, rises to 3,971 ft.
There is a sign at this overlook that, unfortunately, I didn’t photograph. It describes how in the past when children would go out to play their mothers would tell them that they could travel as far as they wanted as long as Buffalo Mountain was still in their sights.
I would think that would be a great distance given its looming stature. Perhaps it’s more from the perspective of a compass home. I’m sure if I could remember the entire sign, then I’d have the answer.
I guess you’ll just have to go check it out for yourself! I promise that the views are worth the trip.
Up the road a bit, at the Rocky Knob visitor center, we discovered the nearby trails. We had spent longer than anticipated on the drive due to the fact that they were paving parts of the Parkway. We decided to head to Mabry Mill and eat some lunch, do some meandering, and stop again at The Saddle Overlook on our return to Roanoke.
Rock Castle Gorge Trail.
The Saddle Overlook is part of the 10.8 mile Rock Castle Gorge Trail. We had not planned to hike, but we did learn that we could see some views by going up the trail a bit.
I’ve always thought that Virginia forests look quite enchanted.
This trail did not disappoint.
I later learned that there is a 1.1 mile loop trail over the peak of Rocky Knob Mountain. We walked the 2/10 of a mile up to the old Appalachian Trail shelter.
Appalachian Trail Shelter.
Yes, this was originally part of the Appalachian Trail!
That was interesting to learn. Apparently, the Parkway’s construction in the 1950’s relocated the trail farther to the west.
This shelter remained.
The views from the window of the shelter, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, are just stunning. It’s easy to see why this is a much-loved area of the country.
We passed a gentleman coming down the trail as we were heading up. He told us that if we traveled along the trail, a few hundred feet beyond the shelter, that we would come to a rocky outcropping. That it was a safe place with gorgeous views of the valley.
We found the outcropping. And a bouquet of flowers that had been left. Of course, my mind began spinning stories about why a bouquet of flowers would have been left along a rocky outcropping overlooking the valley.
Had this been the favored location of a couple who had grown old together…and now the one left alone came to this place to leave flowers and reminisce amongst their memories?
Had it been a first date and a mutual love of hiking…the flowers left as a marking of existence in this space?
Or something else?
I’ll leave you to decide your version the story.
View from The Saddle Overlook.
We descended into the parking lot, and with one more view across the mountains… I climbed into the Jeep and began my journey home.
Let your light shine!