Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock, NC

In October of '06 and June of '07 we visited Blowing Rock, NC for a few days. We made the town our base camp and struck out each day from there in search of adventure or at least diversion. Call us gluttons for punishment but on both visits to Blowing Rock, we hiked the Glen Burney trail.

The trail starts out in the Glen Burney Park lower parking lot and meanders down through a gorge past 3 water falls on the New Year Creek. It is 1.6 miles from the trail head to the last water fall and an elevation change of 600 feet. This might not sound like much on the way down, but it is on the return trip! Actually having done this twice now, I would have to say that the going down is slower than the going up if you are in decent shape.

Once you start out on the trail at the parking lot near the current sewage lift station/pump house, you encounter a gravel service road that narrows to more of a trail. Along this road there is a wooden fence that tries to obscure the view of or hide the hikers from an incredible house or lodge that is being built off of Globe Rd. which roughly follows the trail albeit at a much different elevation.

At 0.4 miles you come across the "ruins" of a sewer plant that served the town back in 1929. The Glen Burney area dates back to 1892. The gorge and park area was donated to the town of Blowing Rock in 1906 by Emily Pridden who founded a school and owned land in the area.

At 0.8 miles you can hear and see the Cascades "falls". At 1.2 miles you encounter the Glen Burney falls and at 1.6 miles you reach the Glen Marie falls. The trail is covered in Rhododendron. It is dark and quiet along the trail with only birds and the occasional car passing way up on Globe Rd. to disturb you. But, that is only if you are away from the falls or creek itself which are quite noisy in a pleasant way. The sound of rushing or falling water is one of nature's great tranquillizers.

When we were there last October, you could continue along the trail to reach Globe Rd. and walk back up that path. Now there are "no trespassing" signs and other signs requesting you to turn around. This is the end of the trail and the start of the moderate to strenuous walk back up the trail.

We, and the parks and rec folks, recommend hiking boots, water, a snack and a camera. We have met folks on the trail in street shoes, Crocs, flip flops and running shoes. There are lots of rocks and roots to traverse. Our June hike was just after an overnight rain and all surfaces including the dirt trail floor were slippery so the total time round trip was almost 3 hours.

This is a great little "off the beaten path" hike in the middle of a "tourist" mountain town, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC. Few people know about this trail and most of the ones who do, have not hiked it. There are lots of less worn paths taking off from the main trail but you are advised to stay on the main one. There are wooden stakes indicating the mile marks every so often now. Hopefully, folks will leave them where they are. The trail could uses some blazes as there are none at all and some junctions or forks in the road get a little confusing.

If you make it down and back up and are so inclined, stop in the Six Pence Pub on Main St. for a pint. The Glen Burney trail and park is just off Laurel Lane which is just of Main St. in Blowing Rock. We highly recommend both.

For more information about Blowing Rock, NC, please visit


Sarita said...

This is a very informative review of the Glen Burney trail. I hiked it myself for the very first time today (and I've been a student at Appalachian for 4 years! Shameful!) It was definitely strenuous on the way back up... bring water and sturdy shoes! This is a great trail and it's nice to see such a thorough and informative review of it online. If you haven't tried it, do it the next time you're in Blowing Rock!!

A & J said...

Thanks Sarita - I think it is the best kept secret in Blowing Rock!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the rundown, it was definitely helpful. I went today and it was pretty messy in parts, but with the snowfall last week it was expected. Definitely have some tread on your footwear! That being said, the falls were running nice. I would try to go on an off day as it seems that it could easily get crowded. Also, if you're trying to really get out of civilization, you might be disappointed with the first 1/3 of the trail, a lot of development is evident. Me, I was happy with some great exercise and awesome views!! Jake

A & J said...

Thanks Jake for your comments. I wish this trail was better maintained as the erosion is taking a toll. The views of the falls are beautiful and it is one of my favorite hikes around Blowing Rock!

Ginny said...

I first hiked the trail with my mother in 1965. I am now 56 and I still remember the climb back up and the beauty of the site. There was no development then, just Nature's beauty.

thomastrails said...

Thanks Ginny! We go every to Blowing Rock every fall and hike this trail. I would have loved to have seen this trail in 1965!