General Hiking North Carolina Special Places Workamping

The Moonshine Rainforest and Playing on the Parkway

We had quite a rainy spell in June! According to our weather station on Old Glory we got 6 3/4 inches of rain for the month. I began to jokingly refer to Moonshine Creek as “Moonshine Rainforest.” We then learned that this area IS considered an Appalachian Temperate Rainforest right here in the Great Smoky Mountains! Thus, there will be rain. With that being said, I’ve been told this has been an exceptionally rainy year.

Since we have been living in this Appalachian Temperate Rainforest, we have seen some amazing and beautiful things. Because of its unique climate and elevation, there is a huge diversity of plant and animal life at Moonshine Creek. We have seen a lot of unique creatures around the campground…Crayfish, Salamanders and Butterflies to name a few.

a feisty crayfish by the falls
an orange salamander relaxing by the railroad tracks
our own little “flock” of butterflies who like to congregate in front of our camper

There were also many sunny days to play and we took advantage of a beautiful June day to drive along the parkway. We stopped by several “overlooks” to see the breathtaking mountain views. We even made it to the highest elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 6053 ft! There is so much beauty in this little part of the earth.

When we arrived at our first destination, Looking Glass Rock overview, we parked and walked across the parkway to a trail we had read about. This trail led us to a waterfall known as Skinny Dip Falls. There were many other hikers there enjoying the falls. This is where we experienced our first mountain waterfall and it was chilly and refreshing.

Our next stop on the Parkway was Graveyard fields. The name Graveyard Fields came from the large number of stumps that used to be in the area (possibly left over from the logging industry.) The stumps were said to have been covered with moss and looked like tombstones in a graveyard from a distance. A fire completely burned up the stumps many years ago but the name remains. We took the short hike at Graveyard Fields to the lower falls and spent some time there. If we had wanted to we could have hiked farther in another direction to the “upper falls.” We decided to save that hike for another day.

Then our final stop was at Devil’s Courthouse. The name of this point on the parkway may come from a legend that the devil held court in a cave beneath the rocks. From the parking area we could see the top of the mountain we would be hiking to. The hike to the top of Devil’s Courthouse was surprisingly a partially paved trail. The steepness of the half mile hike was the tough part but we were rewarded with beautiful 360 degree views at the top! We could also look down at the parking area where we had started and see our tiny little truck in the distance ; )

It was a full day of Blue Ridge Parkway fun and beauty and we only saw a little bit of what the parkway has to offer. We’ll post more later about our future adventures on the Parkway. Next week I’ll tell you about North Carolina Biscuits and the best places to find them (the result of weeks of difficult research!)