Most folks who visit Blowing Rock, North Carolina are on vacation from far away, usually in summer to escape the oppressive heat in places like Florida or maybe Charlotte or Atlanta. Not so for Abingdonians—for us, it’s just hop, skip, and jump over the mountains. It’s exactly 60 miles from Abingdon to Blowing Rock. Perfect for a day trip.
About a mile outside of Blowing Rock, just off Route 220, is the entry to Bass Lake, part of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. An easy day trip from Abingdon (although certainly meriting a long longer trip if desired), the Moses H. Cone Park is a large, outdoor park managed by the U.S. National Park Service.
We have been visiting this park for years. One of our spring rituals, when it’s warming up and we are getting cabin fever, is to come over here on a March weekend, before the crowds swarm Blowing Rock.
The walk around Bass Lake, about a mile, is the perfect family walk. There are a multitude of trails lacing the park that go far beyond the lake. A map of the trails, somewhat dated, from the National Park Service is located here.
This is a great place to come to relax—lunch at one of the many restaurants in Blowing Rock and a stroll around the grounds of the estate makes for a nice day.
Moses H. Cone was a textile magnate that built his country estate in the very early 1900s similar to Vanderbilt’s estate in Asheville. The Cone estate is not quite as exorbitant as The Biltmore, but with 3,500 acres of land and a 13,000 square foot mansion that overlooks the mountains, it’s undeniably grand. The estate was designed with the mansion, which sits at about 4,500′, overlooking the man-made lake and the carriage trails that meander down towards Blowing Rock. More information on the background to the creation of the estate is located here.
The house is open to the public, and is accessed off of mile 295-298 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. While the mansion is worth a visit, what keeps us coming back are the grounds. Imagine Virginia Creeper Trail type trails: well-maintained cinder or pea gravel covered trails.
The trails crisscrossing the ground make for an excellent area to train for running. In fact, most times you are here you will see some locals, part-time residents, or visitors running on the carriage trails. Next time you are in the Boone-Blowing Rock area, check out this park. You won’t be disappointed.