Asheville NC and Smokey Mountains National Park July 4th weekend 2020
What a time to be alive. It's a cruel, cruel Covid summer- and I hadn't traveled since the world came to a stop back in March. For me, it's felt like a lifetime. Joe and I decided to take the chance and go through with our very socially distanced trip to Asheville and the Rocky Mountains. We did it responsibly and I am proud of that.
We arrived Friday night at our Airbnb called the Lucky W cottage. 15 min outside of the small city of Asheville. I loved this little cottage- it's on a large farm with horses and roosters and bees and felt very removed even though it was pretty close to plenty of restaurants, shopping, groceries, etc. The cottage itself was detached from the main house, and the family said hello just once but other than that left us alone. We even got to use their amazing pool with no company.
Our first night we stopped by Publix to pick up some groceries, and then dined out on the patio at Rhubarb in Asheville. Probably the best meal of the trip- really good food and atmosphere considering the circumstances! Highly recommend. We rented a car and Asheville was super easy to park in the city- plenty of cheap lots ($5/night for July 4th weekend- not bad!)
Saturday: We woke up early, made breakfast, and then headed out for hiking all day in Smokey Mountains National Park. It took us about an hour and a half- most of the drive was through small kitchy towns, and then on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The park is actually free- no fee to get in- however it doesn't have many amenities (I guess that's the trade off). Not many restrooms, and no tram or bus system. So it's really about finding parking by a trailhead (which is why we went so early). The park wasn't as crazy as say Zion, but the lots were pretty packed by the time we were heading out. No traffic though which was nice. We parked at the Newfound Gap lot and did the 8 mile trek out and back- on the Appalachian trail to Charles Bunion (took us 4 hours). Mostly shaded, pretty good views at the end.
Once back in Asheville we picked up some drive-thru at Chick fil - a right by the house, took a nap, swam in the pool, then drove to dinner at Twisted Laurel in downtown Asheville. This place had lots of outdoor seating, and pretty good upscale bar food. After we got some ice cream at Maggie Moo's and headed back to the Cottage.
Sunday: Another early day, and basically repeated Saturday. This time we did the Andrews Bald Hike in SMNP. We parked in the Clingman's Dome lot (took us about 2 hours to drive to). This hike started downhill, and eventually you ended up at a clearing with some ok views. Another shaded hike which was nice, pretty muddy. 3.6 miles, took us 2 hours. Once back we checked out the Clingman's dome Observation deck- which is the highest point in the park. Pretty crowded so we didn't stay long. The path was paved and straight up for about 15mins, so challenging but only for a short amount of time. Back in our routine- headed back to the cottage, napped, swam and dinner in Asheville at the Mellow Mushroom (a NC must! Great pizza- big patio- amazing cookie sundae dessert).
I thought Asheville was a super cute town- really nice restaurants, not overwhelming at all, easy to walk around and everyone was super nice. Weather was perfect- not super hot, but hot enough to swim! The Lucky W cottage was perfect to stay in, and we loved our getaway and visit to another National Park!