In North Carolina’s northwest corner, seven mountain and foothill counties share far more natural beauty and cultural treasures than anyone could ever explore in one lifetime.
You know the mountains are cool and lovely, and you know they’re out there – somewhere. But until you start looking, you can’t imagine what you’ll find. ...
21. Alleghany County
Doughton Park, Blue Ridge Parkway
The parkway can get busy on the weekends around Asheville, Boone and Blowing Rock, but many North Carolinians never make it as far north as 7,000-acre Doughton Park, where the mountain landscape opens up to reveal less forest and more rolling meadows. The North Carolina Birding Trail invites birders to hike with their binoculars, and it points to the special appeal of a spot called Mahogany Rock at the north end of Doughton near Milepost 234. It’s a great place to monitor the migrating streams of hawks, falcons, merlins, eagles and other birds of prey each fall. The National Park Service also has preserved, on its original location, the 1885 Brinegar Cabin that was home to a family of subsistence farmers. If you’re lucky, when you duck inside the cabin door, you’ll meet Jackie Sloop, an interpretive park ranger who grew up in nearby Caldwell County. As she spins wool to be woven with linen into a sturdy fabric called linsey-woolsey, Sloop talks of the challenges faced by Martin and Caroline Brinegar until the National Park Service acquired their cabin for the parkway in 1937. Doughton Park lost major amenities several years ago with the closing of the Bluffs Lodge hotel, a gift shop and restaurant. Luckily, there’s a good restaurant and motel about 3 miles away on N.C. 18 near Laurel Springs, just off the parkway. Freeborne’s Eatery and Lodge has a laid-back vibe that appeals equally to traveling bikers and local families out for Sunday dinner.
The cabin was awesome.