Blue Ridge Parkway – The Saddle Overlook

Road trip along the blue ridge parkway. The Saddle Overlook

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…

Buffalo Mountain.

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. ย 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.

Road trip along the blue ridge parkway. The Saddle Overlook

Let your light shine!


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25 thoughts on “Blue Ridge Parkway – The Saddle Overlook

  1. There is something quite enchanting about forests with ancient trees that have withstood the test of time; to stand beside something so formidable and be dwarfed and irrelevant in comparison.

  2. Those views are stunning, and worth the hikes!

    We have Mt. Hamilton with Lick Observatory on top of it to the East, and to the South is Mount Umunhum with an old Air Force big cement box builfinh on top of it that I used learned which way was which and how to turn myself in the right direction to get home. I taught my kids those two directions using those landmarks, and am now teaching #1 Grandson too. I get the whole Buffalo Mountain thing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. The views were definitely worth it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think landmarks are wonderful to use for a sense of direction. I remember as a child my aunt would remember the proper street to our house because she said you would turn at the “Pac-man” tree. It was a tree whose trunk had grown C-shaped.

  3. Driving from Maine to Houston or vice versa I always want to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway. We’ve done a bit but the hubby gets in a hurry and you do have to take your time if you are going to absorb the beauty.

  4. Oh I love the Blue Ridge mountains and parkway — such splendor, you can feel the divine. Maggie Valley is my thing.
    Wonderful photos, looks like you had perfect weather for your adventure!
    We have a shelter like that at the Brown County Dam. But there, it’s not about mountains, just about rolling hills of colored foliage.
    I think the flowers are left to memorialize the scattered remains of a loved one <3
    Great share, so glad you had a good time ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Joey! It was a great day. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Oohh… I love Maggie Valley. The hubby and I were staying in Cherokee when we got engaged and we spent time over in Maggie Valley. We also rented a cabin in with a bunch of family over in Maggie Valley when I was 6 months pregnant with Miss Sunshine…so while everyone went off whitewater rafting, I took the boys to Santa Land. lol
      The weather was beautiful! It made us wonder why we don’t get out more often!
      I think that’s why the flowers were left as well. <3

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