Saturday, September 24, 2022

Local Towns and Trails

July 31-August 5, 2022                                                     Most Recent Posts:
Bear Den Family Campground               Bear Den on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Spruce Pine, North Carolina                               Wrapping Up at Riverbend

Here I am in my site at Bear Den at least partially set up with my awning out, my mat down and my antigravity chair.  Today is Sunday and by the time everyone left I had the place to myself.  VERY NICE.  But that will only be the case  until Thursday or Friday.  You can barely see that my bedroom slide is in and the awning ripped.  It tore when leaving Riverbend and I am trying to find a mobile technician to fix it.  I was hesitant to put the slide out because toppers are there to protect the slide roof from sun, water (rain, dew) and to keep water from coming into an RV which, if it happens,  is nearly a death knell.


Foggy mornings here on the mountain top in this virtual rainforest that is the North Carolina Mountains.  But inside the woods was fine so I hiked my second campground trail which I enjoyed and later hiked several times while here.  Best of the bunch in my opinion.  The campground must feel that way too since they have named it the Bear Paw Trail which was why I was surprised to find a lovelier waterfall near its end.  Maybe there was info that told me this and I didn’t see/read it but it was a wonderful surprise and I’m glad I didn’t know.

Sadly, I’m too late here for the rhododendron flowers.

I’ll bet it was beautiful going through these tunnels when they were in bloom.

Oh dear, no bridge?

That was before I saw the trail curved around beside the creek to a spot where you could cross over.

There were mushrooms galore on this trail but most are ones I’ve shown in other posts this summer.  Still I couldn’t resist this little grove of orange buttons.  What are they if you know?

Interesting trail marker to spray paint the tree trunk and roots red.

The sound of the falls has gotten louder and louder so I know I’m nearby.  I wasn’t expecting such nice steps after a relative rough trail.

Here’s a close up of the cascades at the bottom of the steps.

Here’s a short video for waterfall lovers of these lower falls.

But the trail ends at the waterfall which doesn’t appear to have a name unless it is Bear Den waterfall.

It really is a very lovely falls and was a wonderful tranquil spot to return to which I did several times over my month long stay here.


And of course a video of the main falls.  Click here to see it.

20220801_135427On Monday I headed back down the mountain to Marion which I had driven through on my straight up trip to Bear Den.  I had taken Route 122 and driven along the Parkway 5 miles to arrive.  Route 126 is closer but steeper and curvier.  A motorcyclist’s dream based on all the ones on the road.  Thank goodness I researched and did not bring Winnona this way. 

I was in need of groceries and since I was hungry by the time I got there, I went to Bruce’s Fabulous Food which got the best reviews for non chain local  restaurants in Marion.    Bruce is right on Main Street and clearly there are no parking problems. 


It’s clearly a local favorite.  I got there at 12:30 for lunch and by the time I left there was a line.  Not sure if it was that I didn’t know what to order – I had a quesadilla, 3 bean salad and a slice of their “famous” cheese cake for dessert.  I thought it was OK but wouldn’t go back without a recommendation for what to order.

Mrs. Bruce waits tables


Mr Bruce in the orange does the open kitchen which was just beside my table.



The cheese cakes are apparently a serious favorite and are made by a local woman.  Boy she must work hard doing all these every day.   Banana was the special today and was thus less expensive.  They were out of Cherry already which is partially crossed out so I had chunky turtle just to see what it was.  Sadly I have no notes on that and my memory isn’t that specific.

After lunch I walked around town to see what was there and didn’t find much. 

My research told me there was a spot called Mount Ida Wilderness Park on the edge of town so I went to hike the Overlook Trail.  It was of course straight UP.

Here’s the overlook.  Wonder why they don’t call it Powerline overlook.


I also drove over to the Catawba River Greenway which is a paved path along the river and very nice for bikes or hiking it appears.  No time to hike today but I might return if time permits or I run out of hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Next day it’s another trail.  One very nice thing about this campground is the number of trails to hike right here on the 400 acre property.  On Wednesday I hiked the Black Foot Trail where I actually had a real view.

There were several of these lovely flowers on the trail side.  I’m guessing it’s a yellow fringed orchid but I’m not sure.  Let me know in the comments what you think.

Looks like I’m hiking right into a tube doesn’t it?  Felt that way too.

The trail is out and back.  3.6 miles up.  Again, lots of mushrooms of which I have many pictures but these two were particularly interesting.



This would have been so fine if the rhododendron and Mountain Laurel had been in bloom and I had been walking through their tunnels.


Tunnel right up to the view.


My first look at Table Rock Mountain.  I’m sure you know which one it is.  Later in the week I stopped by its overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.


A view worthy of the climb.  This video shows the entire panorama from my view point.  A better look at Table Mountain Rock.


On the way back I watch this fritillary flutter from flower to flower.  So beautiful.  Wish I knew more about butterflies to know exactly which fritillary it was.


I’ll have been here a week on Friday and have really been taking it easy doing a lot of reading as well as writing and posting blogs.  I’ve done 3 of the 4 hikes in the campground and have tried very hard to get an RV Tech to tell me when he can come and fix my slide and water pressure gauge.  No luck with that.

I’ve been doing some planning for what to do outside the campground as well.  But I find myself fixated on my next stop.  After what were for me stressful drives to both Riverbend and here, given that I’ve never driven the rig in the mountains, I want to make sure I don’t have any more steep narrow roads on my trip to SW Virginia.

So on Friday I drive down the mountain on the other side to Spruce Pine which is the town I’ll be going through on my way when I leave.   Going anywhere from Bear Den means driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This time, I stop at a couple of overlooks on my way to Spruce Pine.

These mountains must also be part of “the great smokies” from their look today.


I drive 10 miles down the mountain.  There is a shorter route but not one Winnona could take and I’m checking out a route for Winnona.  There are two possible routes I want to look at.  The direct one I find is narrow, no shoulder, winding and UP.   In order to avoid that  I’m going to have to go pretty far out of my way turning a 125 mile trip into a 189 mile trip.  But I don’t care.  What I’ve come up with is nearly all 4 lane highway or interstates all of which have a gradual climb up the mountains.  I feel much better.

IMG_2844After driving around checking all this out since I don’t trust google’s drill down feature to tell me the real steepness of the route, I head back to Spruce Pine for lunch at what looks like an interesting place.  Unfortunately by this time it has started to rain.  There is a cute train station which doesn’t appear sadly to be in use any more.

I donned my raincoat and walked around Spruce Pine which is smaller than Marion. It has an interesting commercial area with an upper and a lower Main Street.   The street below is one of the ones that goes between them.  Some of the larger businesses share back walls.  There are a number of restaurants so it must be more alive at other times than on this Friday mid afternoon  in early August.



Unfortunately pretty much immediately before I got to Tropical Grille, their grille went out and I was told it would be tomorrow before they would be able to serve anyone else.  The last two lucky people were eating outside as I left. 

Seems a strange theme and décor for a restaurant in a town in the mountains of North Carolina.  Wish I could have tasted the food.



Back at Bear Den, the week-enders had moved in.


  1. Replies
    1. You must be very happy with my posts this summer William since there have been so many waterfalls. Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate what a faithful reader you are.

  2. The Mountain Directory was very useful when we fulltimed.

    1. We had one when we traveled out West but I hadn't really thought about getting 1 since I really didn't think the North Carolina mountains were going to be as difficult as they are

  3. Looks like you found another nice place to escape the heat. We had a chilly Summer and quick Fall. Tonight is number 90 in the Sprinter and I will store it after this . It has not had any problems.

    1. I'm guessing this may be Tom since I can only imagine Alaska that had a chilly summer

  4. At 5 am I finally have a moment to read your post again more thoroughly and actually comment. So much easier when I have the computer set up. Your month-long stays sound like the opposite of our life right now, with the drive sleep drive thing going on here. I am not sure I could stay a month anywhere, except at home But a week at a time would be my perfect schedule. Love that you did have the time to scout out a route and the ability to take the long way around. Those Appalachian hills are mountains on many roads as we discovered on this trip. We also discovered many "green tunnels" on this trip. I am kind of tired driving through green tunnels actually. I would hunger for the kinds of views you have to hike so much to find. Although many years ago we did drive the parkway and saw some of those same views in your photos. I love the hardwood forests but my western soul is hungering for open desert and high mountains and views that stretch my eyeballs. You are so good at looking at the up close stuff, the mushrooms and the bugs and flowers. I try to remember to do that since my tendency is to go for the expansive stuff in my photos. Enjoy your time and glad you are having some time to write. I am hoping for the same eventually.

    1. Wow 5am Sue. I wonderful Of you to comment so early in the morning. I too find that blogs are much better on my computer than on my phone. The pictures are much nicer and it's easier to comment. I actually love longer space because they allow me to see everything in the area or nearly everything. 2 weeks is sort of my minimum unless I'm on my way somewhere and just doing overnights.

  5. It’s obvious you know more about butterflies than I. Never heard of a “fritillary” (which spellcheck has just corrected from “fiddle Larry”….) 🤪

    Perhaps it’s time you purchase a butterfly book to put next to your volumes about trails, waterfalls, flowers, birds, and covered bridges. 🥰

    For at least the past five summers, a pair of – sometimes three – Monarch butterflies have camped around the Ninebark shrubs in my front yard. It’s always exciting to see their return. (Of course I doubt it’s the same ones… but it does make me wonder about the habits of their migration.)

    That Cheesecake Board was a real treat. Thanks. I mean, who doesn’t just love cheesecake, eh? I’ll be passing it along to a baker friend of mine. Hopefully she’ll be inspired from it and, who knows, reward me with taste-testing.

    As always, safe travels.
    TaTa for now.

    1. Great to see you in the comments Jody. Butterfly books or any bird books mushroom books all have to be pretty locally specific to be able to look anything up in them. How great for you to have seasonal monarch butterfly neighbors.

  6. Replies
    1. It's nice that at least these few are within walking distance and I don't have to drive anywhere to get to the trailhead

  7. I like to stay weeks or month in a place to experience but not in a campground. Yet nice to have so many trails from the park. Those tunnel trails would be extra special in bloom. The waterfall is lovely, the cheesecake list divine. I think you need a mushroom and butterfly book. Those green rolling mountains look enticing but I'd soon need my open vistas much like Sue. I am enjoying the woodlands in Michigan but starting to long for home.

    1. I'd love to be boondocking for a month at a time but that's really difficult in the East. I have many many identification books but as I said earlier they're really not much help unless they are locally specific or at least state specific.

  8. Love the panoramic video. Shame that you couldn't eat at the Tropical grill. I see by their sign they have Cuban sandwiches, yum!

    1. What's really a shame is I never got back there. Every time I thought I could go was the day they were closed

  9. So nice that you had hiking trails right in the campground. Those trails are so thick with must be gorgeous when they're all in bloom! Not so sure about that trail that led to a view of the power lines, though.
    Yum, cheesecake! I love good cheesecake, but I cannot imagine banana cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake, though...I wouldn't mind a piece of that right now. :-)

    1. Yes Laurel the trailheads On the property and within walking distance were a real bonus to this campground. Especially the one with the really lovely waterfall. Almost like having it in my backyard.

  10. Only you could run out of hikes on the BRP. Next thing you'll be saying you've run out of waterfalls in NC to visit! You're supporting hiking shoe manufacturers all by yourself! :cD

    1. I haven't even started on the hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway. All I've done so far are the ones in the campground. And I wasn't even able to do all the waterfalls that were in the county that my last campground was in. I'm guessing the Identity of the anonymous posts. So I'm thinking this might be Paul Dahl

  11. Yup, it's me. Don't know why I became an invisible commentor. :c(

    1. So strange. How dare Blogger make you anonymous!!!

  12. Another lovely waterfall. I love those tunnels through the brush, they look like magical portals :-) Glad you could find some lookouts with views! I agree the tropical theme seems out of place in the mountain town - bummer you didn't get to give them a try.

    1. It was so nice having this waterfall walking distance from Winnona. The tunnels did feel magical and I was really sorry the rhododendron were not in bloom. Serious magic if they had been. How's Bill?

  13. Love those tunnels! And a surprise falls! That's great. Beautiful flower, butterfly and mushroom pictures! Excellent camera! Tropical in the mountains. That sounds like an interesting story!


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