By Emma Castleberry
Don’t let the winter weather deter you from hitting the trail. December is the final month in North Carolina’s Year of the Trail, and this time of year can offer some of the most peaceful, scenic hiking opportunities. Those seeking variety and beauty in winter hiking trails need look no farther than Blowing Rock.
One of the most popular trails in Blowing Rock offers winter magic for the well-prepared. Just off of Main Street, the 1.2-mile Glen Burney Trail follows a creek and offers views of three waterfalls (which may be frozen in winter) as it descends into the John’s River Gorge. Be mindful of your hiking party’s fitness—what goes down must come up, and climbing out of the gorge is relatively strenuous. This trail can also be tricky in snowy or icy conditions. Access to the trailhead is located at Annie Cannon Gardens, 229 Laurel Lane.
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park provides a 25-mile network of accessible trails off of Milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just a few minutes northwest of Blowing Rock. For a family-friendly, all-ages option, stroll the entirely flat trail around Bass Lake, clocking in at just under a mile. Those looking for more of a challenge can tackle the three-mile climb to the Flat Top Tower, which offers 360-degree views of the estate and surrounding land. The return trip is all downhill for a total of six miles.
If the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed due to snow, hikers can access the estate via Highway 221, just over a half-mile from Main Street in Blowing Rock, with parking available in the gravel lots on either side of the entrance driveway to Bass Lake. There is also direct hiking access to Bass Lake from Chetola Resort, a wonderful place to overnight for your hiking trip to Blowing Rock.