Cycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway

By: Scott James


The Blue Ridge Parkway is the legacy from the era of Roosevelt and the New Deal. Now for students of history and indeed for some with a very long memory, it is not difficult to understand why this project was put together.

Originally planned as a link between the great Smoky Mountain national Park and the Shenandoah national Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway has now taken on an identity all of it’s own.

The 469 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway are a testament to the care and attention and craftsmanship of the original workers and this goes quite some way to adding to the experience and enjoyment gained by travelling on this route way.

As you can imagine executing a feat like this took considerable experience as well as imagination. The landscape architect Stanley Abbot was chosen to head up this task and as befits a man who’s CV includes Central Park Manhattan he achieved this with considerable aplomb.

The Blue Ridge Parkway took approximately 2 years to complete and extends from Waynesboro in the north to just outside of Cherokee on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the South.

As it travels south west from Waynesboro the Blue Ridge Parkway passes Roanoke in Virginia and Asheville in North Carolina before stopping just short off the Tennessee North Carolina border just south of Gatlinburg.

The Parkway is a great route for those who lovers of bicycles. The real reason for this is that the quality of the road itself is excellent in that actually the bicycle is a great way to experience the outstanding scenery at a more leisurely pace than one would otherwise experience from a car. However to enjoy the benefits of the Blue Ridge Parkway on a bicycle takes planning and to be brutally blunt endurance. This last aspect is key as though the lowest point may well only be 600 foot above sea level and the highest point 6000 foot the various “ups and downs” off the route actually total an elevation change of nearly 48000 feet. That's nearly 9 miles to the uninitiated!

As has been mentioned the road effectively spans two states Virginia and North Carolina the terrain in each state is actually quite different effectively Virginia is more in the foothills of the Appalachians but when you hit the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway mountings scenery becomes much more alpine and dramatic.

Initially work started on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1935 and actually took 52 years before the roadway was actually officially opened in 1987 as one continuous road.

To really give the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s due then you really have to set aside two weeks to enjoy your visit and even then you may well find that that is not enough.

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Scott writes regularly about Travel issues such as Smoky Mountain Cabins and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He also writes about associate issues such as Travel Insurance Worldwide

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