Asheville in the Rain – Seeing Nature Despite the Fog
We planned a long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina to relax in the mountains, sample lots of beers, and catch up with friends that live in Florida. It ended up raining most of the time we were there, but that didn’t stop us from getting outside to see some cool stuff! If you’re visiting Asheville in the rain, realize that you probably won’t see many sweeping mountain views through the fog and storms. There’s plenty of hikes and trails to other fun sites though.
We had our pup, Gimli, with us, as well as our friends’ dog so we decided to stay west of Asheville in a Home Away with a large fenced-in yard. It was our first Home Away experience, and I found it to be very similar to Airbnb. Having the yard to exercise the dogs was awesome, but we were a bit out of town. A view of the mountains from the porch helped make up for that!
Asheville averages cooler temps than Richmond in June, but because it was raining we were below average, hitting low to mid 70s as highs. At higher elevations it was chillier. I found, like in England, I was most comfortable having layers, sunglasses and a rain jacket on hand. Open toe shoes when it’s raining are the worst, so I took some casual sneakers to wear we weren’t hiking.
Hikes for the Rain
There are no shortage of awesome hikes around Asheville. But with the rain we figured we better stick to trails that had attractions like waterfalls within them, rather than relying on overlooks for sites. In the fog there was no way we’d see very far from overlooks.
Our first hike was off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Pisgah National Forest through Craggy Gardens during a break in the rain. The rhododendrons on the mountain bloom in June. Fog added a misty ambiance to the trail and the colors of vegetation and flowers seemed more vibrant against the hazy background. It was pretty magical. Like a fairy would stumble out of the fog at any moment.
We started at the visitor’s center and turned around just before the picnic area. If you do the reverse you’ll have more of the uphill treks during the first half, but either way a short, moderate hike.
Also on our list were the Balsam Nature and Summit Trails in Mount Mitchell State Park. We didn’t go because the fog was so thick we wouldn’t be able to see any of the mountain views. At around round a mile long, and 20 minutes up the road, it’s an easy add on to a trip to Craggy Gardens. Catawba Falls and Crabtree Falls are also north of town and would be visible if you’re hiking around Asheville in the rain.
Looking Glass Falls
Along the road on the southern chunk of Pisgah National Forest is Looking Glass Falls. We parked in the pull off and walked down a few steps to the falls. It couldn’t have been easier.
The falls were roaring and beautiful.
The amount of water rushing over the rocks was probably bolstered by all of the rain, but would still be substantial in drier weather. This was the busiest natural site we went to because it was so accessible. I would image on a nice day this spot would be packed with little parking or elbow room.
Since Looking Glass wasn’t a hike, we went up the road 10 minutes to Moore Cove Falls. This short trek (<2 miles round trip) was perfect with the on-again off-again rain we were having. The trail was wide and well defined: perfect for the pups. There were several spots where they could play in streams. Just be careful they don’t consume too much stream water, especially if they aren’t vaccinated for Leptospirosis.
The trail was easy with minimal elevation changes, there were small streams, ferns and rocks to look at along the way, and the payoff was pretty freakin cool. The waterfall at the end is quite tall, but not very powerful (if it hasn’t been raining this may not be as cool of a spot). You can walk behind the waterfall!
The rock formation supporting the falls has a large alcove behind the waterfall to explore. I busted my butt in our Home Away yard and on a slippery rock at Craggy Gardens, but I was fine getting behind the falls.
Also south of Asheville: Sunburst Falls and Mount Pisgah Trail. The falls are right off the road and fairly easy to access. The trail is a little over 2 miles and boasts spectacular views on clear days. Next time.
Sites While Driving
Mount Mitchell State Park
We drove to Asheville from Richmond going south towards Raleigh, then west. Gimli was pretty sleepy, but if you have a pup who needs some exercise on the way, there are some dog friendly spots in Raleigh. We did detour and drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to try and catch a break in the rain at Mount Mitchell State Park. We weren’t successful, but the balsam trees silhouetted in the fog were enchanting. On the way down the mountain we did get a few foggy glimpses of mountains.
On the way back, we went north towards Johnson City then east back to Richmond. This way was a half hour longer, but the views were pretty awesome. Along I-26 there’s an overlook near Erwin, TN that is fantastic. Lots of places to park with an overlook (there’s a viewfinder that enables colorblind folks to see colors). We climbed the pretty steep hill for an even better view.
A bit later on the trip home we stopped on Afton Mountain near Charlottesville. Of course it was clear the day we came home. These stops along the interstate had the best views of the mountains we saw the whole trip. While I was looking forward to seeing mountains in Asheville, I wasn’t disappointed with flowers and waterfalls instead!
The weather doesn’t have to be perfect to enjoy your trip to Asheville in the rain. What do you do when it rains during your travels?