Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, Section 1


From the Virginia State Line (MP 217) to NC Hwy 16 (MP 261), this 44 mile portion of the parkway follows the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Here the high, rolling hills and mountains of the Appalachians drop off sharply into the Piedmont section of North Carolina.

NC/VA State Line on the Blue Ridge Parkway
NC/VA State Line on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Cumberland Knob Trail in the Meadow
Cumberland Knob Trail in the Meadow

Several excellent parks and trails are located along this serene section of the All American Road.

Hiking Trails

Not far south of the Virgina state line, the Cumberland Knob recreation area contains a 3-mile loop trail by the same name. It winds its way down in to the Gully Creek valley, passing a small but picturesque waterfall and crossing the stream on step stones and a foot bridge along the way. It climbs again and crosses the summit of Cumberland Knob, which a small grassy clearing and an old stone shelter nearby.

This section of the Parkway skirts North Carolina's Stone Mountain State Park, and in addition to the trails on Blue Ridge Parkway property, the Mountains to Sea Trail connects into that park making longer hike options available. The Mountains to Sea Trail also runs along this section of the Parkway south of Stone Mountain State Park, tying much of the section together by foot.

The Parkway also abuts Doughton Recreation Area in this stretch, which contains some longer trails itself. The Basin Creek trail is one of the longest and better known trails in the park. Although it is on Blue Ridge Parkway property, it doesn't connect to the Parkway itself. Instead, the trail starts on Longbottom Road at the base of the escarpment and climbs alongside the creek to a point 1500 ft below the Wildcat Rocks overlook. It passes several waterfalls and crosses the creek many times on its way, leading to a historic cabin on the slope of the Blue Ridge.

For the full trail list, visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Section 1 Trails page.

View of Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock
View of Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock


Here are the developed recreation areas along this section of the Parkway.

Cumberland Knob (VA State Line)

  • Visitor Center/Restrooms
  • Picnic Area
  • Historical Markers

Doughton Park

  • Campground
  • Lodging nearby
  • Information Center/Restrooms
  • Picnic Area
  • Fuel