Hiking the Glen Burney Trail
Just outside the center of the vacation town of Blowing Rock, NC, lies the town's own Annie Cannon Gardens and the Glen Burney Trail. The park is located on New Years Creek below Mayview Lake, as it flows off the side of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and into the John's River gorge.
The main attraction in the area of the park, in addition to the gardens, are the three waterfalls along the creek, although you'll also find some historic structures called "The Ruins" along the trail. I'm not sure how interesting they'll be to history buffs, but they're the town's old sewage treatment system from the 1920's.
The first waterfall you'll pass on the trail is called The Cascades. The view of this little waterfall is partially obscured by trees. Don't be tempted to climb out on top of the falls like some people do, even though the trail runs right past the rocks there, because it's unsafe in all circumstances.
Glen Burney Falls
A long upper slide splits into several flows and pours off a steepening, rounded rock face, with a few small free-falls at the very bottom. The rock is covered in green moss and algae, and the surrounding glen is lush and green. It looks best in periods of above-average water flow. There is an observation platform at the top of the falls, giving a good view down the slide and out into the gorge. For the best view, descend to the base of the falls and look up, although you can't see all of the falls from the bottom.
Glen Marie Falls
A short upper free-fall turns and cascades down a steep rock face, then twists and cascades its way down in several sections before spilling out in a small pool/rocky area at the base. It's a pretty neat falls, and it's fairly high - but unfortunately it's hard to see all of it from one point. The best view is from the base, shown here. It's almost a great place for older kids to play and splash down here, but it might be just a little too rough, slippery, and deep for the littler ones.
You can see all of our photos in the Photo Gallery.
There's only one trail in the park, called the Glen Burney trail. It starts at the downhill side of the parking area. It takes you on a 3.1 mile round-trip hike down to the base (the length is just over 1.5 miles one-way).
This is a surprisingly steep and difficult hike for being so close to town, although it's rated as moderate overall. The trail has a moderately rough surface with some significant rocks, roots, and drop-offs. It descends over 800 ft to the base of Glen Marie Falls.
The trail is easy to follow, and signed at junctions, but be sure to stay behind the cables near the tops of the waterfalls and drop-offs. The trail ends at private property, so be sure to stay behind the signs there too.
For the full hike details, see Glen Marie Falls on WNCWaterfalls.info.
If you're staying in Blowing Rock, you could just walk to the park, which is off of Laurel Lane on the west side of town.
If you're driving, from the intersection of US Hwy. 321 Business (Main St.) and US Hwy. 221, go south on Main St. for 0.2 miles and turn right on Laurel Lane. Go straight at the 4-way stop at Wellingford Rd.; the signed entrance to the park is just ahead on the left before the lake. There is parking here; however, in the rare event that this lot is full, go back to the 4-way stop and turn left on Wellingford. A city parking deck is just ahead on the left. There are plenty of other places to park throughout town, too.