Blueways and Byways
The New River is formed in Ashe County by the confluence of the South Fork New River and the North Fork New River and is one of only 14 American Heritage Rivers in the United States. Flowing 320 miles north through southwestern Virginia and into West Virginia, a trip up the New River provides beautifully scenic pastoral vistas so breathtaking that in 1998, a 26.5-mile section of the New River in Ashe County was designated a National Scenic River.
Formed prior to the uplifting of the Appalachian Mountains, the New River is second only to the Nile as the oldest river in the world. Because of shallow, gentle waters, the New River is ideal for canoeing, kayaking and tubing, while the opportunity for occasional minor rapids adds just a bit of excitement to the trip. Higher water levels occur during May and June. August and September are low-flow periods. Canoes, kayaks and tubes may be rented through local outfitters. Public launch areas are located in the New River State Park, where you can also enjoy picnic areas, hiking trails, primitive camp sites, fishing and educational programs.
The New River is also recognized as prime for sport fishing. Smallmouth and redeye bass traverse the waters and trout fishing is excellent in the smaller, faster tributaries, most of which are designated general trout waters and are stocked regularly with rainbow and brown trout. Anglers need a state fishing license in order to fish these waters. A license can be obtained on line at www.ncwildlife.org.
For more information on the New River, contact the New River State Park at 336-982-2587 or visit them on the web at www.ncnr.org.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most impressive national parks in the nation. Referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Parkway is one of only 23 roads nationwide having earned All-American Road status. Along the Parkway the high mountains of Western North Carolina provide panoramas of seemingly endless peaks, including the highest point east of the Mississippi River. For more than 30 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway traverses the ridges of Ashe County, showcasing spectacular long range views, picturesque log cabins and truly breathtaking pastoral settings. There are many activities to enjoy on the Parkway. Experience the scent of a spruce-fir forest while hiking and picnicking. View the waterfalls and enjoy the tremendous variety of wildflowers. Birding is a favorite activity on the Parkway, so be sure to bring your binoculars!
Back Roads Tour of Ashe County
The High Country Back Roads Tour is a driving tour that meanders through the back roads of Ashe County. Beginning in West Jefferson, the tour continues for 34 miles through Warrensville, Lansing, and Helton. The drive traverses 26 miles of beautiful NC Hwy 194, designated a “Scenic Byway”, passing through Historic Todd, with its old fashioned general store. A downloadable CD, accompanied by a map, is available at www.HighCountryBackRoads.com or by visiting the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce located in West Jefferson.
Barn Quilt Tour
The Ashe County Arts Council has brought together members of the community to design, paint and mount quilt block paintings on barns throughout the County. The treasure hunt begins with the help of a brochure pinpointing the locations of over 31 barn quilts. Stop by the Arts Council in West Jefferson for a brochure on visit the Arts Council web site at ashecountyarts.org.
Virginia Creeper Trail
For a one-day outing, consider the short drive from Ashe County to Damascus, VA for a 17-mile bicycle ride – all down hill! The Virginia Creeper Bicycle trail is considered one of the most spectacular bicycle trails in the world. A shuttle will take you to the top of White Top Mountain where the gentle ride down the mountain begins. Created on the existing rail bed of the old Virginia Creeper train, the trail leads over original train trellises, through the woods and over flowing mountain streams. You can spend the day on the Creeper Trail and be back in Ashe County in time for dinner!