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Retracing our historic backwoods adventure to the Blue Ridge Parkway

Jeff Bobo • Updated Oct 26, 2017 at 2:26 PM

There's an old saying that "getting there is half the fun," but when Lynn and I make our annual trek to the Blue Ridge Parkway, getting there is more like 90 percent of the fun.

Case in point: A few years back, we accidentally discovered a super secret backdoor entrance to the BRP that is as scenically beautiful, if not more, than the parkway itself.

In the tradition of most great explorers, we accidentally located a place that has been inhabited for centuries and claimed it as our own discovery simply because we'd never heard of it before.

Not unlike Lewis and Clark, about eight years ago Bobo and Brooks (I get first billing because I was driving) set out on one of our "anything can happen day" excursions.

We headed to Asheville with the intention of getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but we didn't know where or how. If there was a sign saying which exit to take, I missed it, and eventually we were heading west on I-40.

After a short time, I just decided to heck with it and turned off randomly at the Canton exit, about 20 miles from Asheville. I had done exactly zero research on how to access the Parkway and didn’t know anything about where we were.

The plan was simple. Drive south into the wilderness, and eventually I will either hit a dead end or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our other goal was to avoid backwoods encounters that could result in a "Deliverance" scenario. Banjo music would be a red flag.

I didn't even know what road we were on, but we later discovered it was Route 215.

We passed a lot of pretty little farms and houses, and the shadow of the mountains kept getting bigger and bigger. We never hit a dead end or heard Dueling Banjos.

Instead we were pleasantly surprised to find a place called Lake Logan, which was at the bottom of a long, winding narrow uphill road that followed a whitewater creek.

That 2009 adventure was in March, so all the trees were bare and there was no obstructed view of the creek or the topography. About every half-mile or so we had to stop because there was another waterfall or scenic vista to look at.

Like I said, it's a narrow, winding road with few places to pull over, but there wasn't another soul on the road that day but us. We could stop in the middle of the road wherever we wanted for as long as we wanted and soak it all in.

We couldn't believe our eyes. How come we never heard of this place?

And there was still the mystery of where will the road end? Why isn't there anyone else here? How is it we were so lucky to have this awesome place all to ourselves? Are we being lured into a trap conjured by a family of cannibal hillbillies as in the classic 2003 horror movie "Wrong Turn"? (Clearly, I watch too much TV.)

All our questions were answered when we arrived at the Blue Ridge Parkway on-ramp and discovered we were about halfway between Asheville and Cherokee.

Frankly, the Parkway was a bit of a letdown after all the drama and adventure of finding it.

I agree with writer Thomas Wolfe, who in his novel “You can’t Go Home Again” said, “I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.”

That's why two Sunday's ago, Lynn, Maggie and I decided to retrace the historic 2009 journey of Bobo and Brooks through the hidden Route 215 backdoor to the Parkway.

Thomas Wolfe was right about something else. You really can't go home again, and it was quickly apparent when we arrived at Lake Logan that we weren’t going to have the same experience as in 2009.

It was peak foliage season, and the previously lonely, uninhabited and undiscovered Parkway backdoor was wall-to-wall people. I didn't let that prevent me from stopping in the middle of the road if I wanted to look at something or take a picture, but it wasn't leisurely like when you have the road all to yourself. And then the Parkway was wall-to-wall people as well.

You couldn't even turn off at half the overlooks because there was nowhere to park, and a lot of people were parking on the side of the road before and after, especially at overlooks with restrooms.

But the leaves were pretty and the waterfalls on Route 215 were roaring. It was definitely a day well spent. Maggie enjoyed peeing at many new locations, which was her primary goal for the outing.

From Kingsport to the Parkway to Asheville and back to Kingsport was a 260-mile trip. At our leisurely pace, which included a picnic at Pounding Mill Overlook, the excursion took about eight hours.

I can’t recommend using dumb luck in place of maps or research for finding interesting day trip locations. But in lieu or research or maps, try watching “Wrong Turn” and/or  “Deliverance” before setting out on your own undiscovered backwoods adventures so you’ll recognize red flags and know what not to do.                           

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