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Blue Ridge Parkway

Smart View Loop Trail

Trails Cabin

 

 

The Smart View Picnic Area is located at milepost 154.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This is not your ordinary leg stretcher picnic area loop hike.  The Smart View Loop Trail offers much more as it mixes meadows with a deep stream drainage, a visit to a 1890 cabin and a pleasant walk through scenic forests.  The main loop (on map below) is a three mile hike.  You can create shorter hikes of 2.1 or 1.6 miles by utilizing a connector trail.

Don't expect to many other hikers on the trail as you do this hike.  Most visitors to the area just stop to look at Trails Cabin or have a picnic in the picnic area.  They are missing out on a nice Blue Ridge Parkway hike.  This is one of those must do hikes while driving along the Parkway.  The picnic area is a shady resting spot nestled in the woods.  There are rest rooms available in the picnic area.

Park your vehicle in the lot at the gate that closes the picnic area in the winter, which is located as soon as you pull off the Parkway.  Start your hike through a fat man squeeze in the fence to the left of the trail map sign.  Head across the meadow toward the distant woods and pass a trail post in the meadow as well as a bench when you reach the woods.

The trail ascends into the woods along a fence to a signed junction at 0.2 miles.  The side trail on the right leads over a stile to the picnic area and rest rooms visible in the distance.  Continue along a split rail then barbed wire fence as the trail slightly moves away from the parkway.  The trail becomes a grassy path as it meets a junction and a bench at 0.4 miles.

The trail that goes straight at the junction heads 0.2 miles to the Smart View Overlook on the Parkway.  Turn right here and pass through a fat man squeeze in the split rail fence.  After switchbacks, the trail crosses a small stream on a log bridge at 0.6 miles.  After some up and downs, some steep sections and more switchbacks, the trail levels then grills plus rock picnic tables appear on the right.

At one mile, the trail passes by a roofed picnic shelter and a paved side trail leading to the picnic area.  Veering left the trail is above a dramatic drop off, that can be seen during times with no leaves on the trees.  Turning back toward the picnic area past old fence posts and a meadow, a side trail goes right to the picnic area. 

Trails Cabin in a 1972 picture

Just ahead is the Trails Cabin, reached at 1.2 miles.  The cabin built in the 1890's, is perched atop a spectacular view.  In fact it's "a right smart view" in the namesake vernacular of the region.  Past a bench in front of the cabin, the trail continues descending and around a ridge to a stream spanned by a real nice stone bridge at 1.3 miles.  The trail continues right toward a meadow beside the picnic area road, then switchbacks left into the woods.  At the switchback, not far from the road a sign points back to the cabin and picnic area.

Go left on the switchback, up the hill away from the stream crossing.  The trail rises and pass by a frog filled pond.  The parking area can be seen off to the right.  Passing a bench, the trail levels in a tall pine forest.  At 1.4 miles, a signed trail goes right.  This is a connector trail that can be used to create shorter loops.

This next section of trail follows a broadening ridge and a scenic area of woods.  At 2.2 miles the trail swings right above Cannaday Gap.  A dirt road appears below the gap and you'll pass an old NPS maintenance area on the left.  The parkway appears on the left and the trail slides below a scenic, moss covered outcrop through a forest dotted with hemlocks and boulders.  Soon pass a bench.

At 2.9 miles a signed junction of the connector trail passed earlier.  Head left through a fat man squeeze and cross the picnic area road to the parking lot.  This ends the three mile loop hike.  There is a few pictures and a map of the hike below.  This hike is featured in the hiking guide book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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