Developed Areas Along the Parkway

North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
Developed Areas


Gulley Creek, Cumberland Knob Shelter



Cumberland Knob is located at milepost 217.5 near the North Carolina/Virginia state line, where the NPS has painted a line across the Parkway to mark the state line,  This was the site where construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway was started in 1935 as a part of President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps. It was the first recreation area to be opened, in 1937, to the public along the Parkway, and is still a favorite destination for both locals and visitors. The mixture of lush woodlands and open fields, housing a variety of birds and other wildlife, is ideal for leisurely walks or a more demanding hike to nearby Gully Creek.

On the 1,000 acres of the Cumberland Knob Recreational Area you can picnic, hike, listen to interpretive talks by rangers or simply enjoy the scenery.  Drinking water, restrooms, a book shop and a public telephone are available at the visitor center.  The views aren't spectacular by Parkway standards, but don't keep that from stopping and exploring this beautiful area.

Cumberland Knob Trail (0.7 miles)

A pleasant 20-minute loop, the Cumberland Knob Trail is an easy paved walk that starts at the visitor center, passes an old cemetery then swings through a picnic area and up to the Cumberland Knob CCC Picnic Shelter. This is a good leg-stretching trail, especially if youíve been riding the Parkway without a stop. Itís a good one for kids too.  You can also just hike to the shelter and retrace your steps for a shorter hike of 0.6 miles.  Beware of poison ivy past the shelter.

Follow the trail to the right of the visitor center, passing several picnic tables and soon enter the woods.  Reach the CCC Picnic Shelter at 0.3 miles.  The views are obstructed.  Continuing the loop by swinging left around the shelter and descending on the trail.  Many azalea are in the  area.

At 0.4 miles, just prior to entering the field, swing toward the right staying on the edge of the woods.  Watch out for the poison ivy next to the path!  At 0.5 miles reach the junction of the Gully Creek Trail.  Turn left and soon the trail becomes paved next to the field.  Return to the visitor center at 0.7 miles. 

Gully Creek Trail (2.5 miles)

For those wanting a bit more can try the 2.5 mile loop trail from the center into Gulley Creek Gorge. The Gully Creek Trail is one of the most worthwhile trails that drop from the Parkway's heights.  The trail explores an intriguing watershed. 

Park near the information station in the Cumberland Knob Picnic Area.  To start your hike along the Gully Creek Trail, leave the parking lot and cross the plaza in front of the information station.  Go left of the building and head downhill into the woods past trail signs.  One of these signs include a warning of this strenuous 2.5 mile trail.  There is an elevation gain of 820 feet for this hike.

Your on the paved trail that heads downhill and soon the trail becomes gravel as you descend off the ridge.  The trail descends steeper as you utilize numerous switchbacks down the dry ridge toward Gully Creek.  Soon you'll hear the creek and then see it tumbling in from your left.  At 0.5 miles the trail crosses Gully Creek on rocks for the first of many crossings.

The trail crosses to the right of the creek, then goes back to the left side on a wooden bridge.  There are small cascades along the creek at 0.8 miles.  There are a nice series of small waterfalls at 0.9 miles as the trail uses stone steps to descend and then crosses the creek.  The trail crosses the creek seven times over the next 0.3 miles.

At 1.2 miles the trail begins to rise away from Gully Creek.  The trail switchbacks as you climb up the steep slope of Cumberland Knob.  The trail levels and then becomes steep as it crosses the apex of the ridge at 1.4 miles.  As you round this ridge, you'll notice the ecosystem changes dramatically. 

The trail switchbacks again to a view of Gully Creek, then goes left on a steep climb along the edge of the ridge.  The rocky, pine needle covered trail levels out briefly across a saddle with sharp drops on both sides.  The trail ascends on a flight of stone steps.  There is a short side trail on your left that leads to a rocky viewpoint to the south (becoming overgrown).

At 2.2 miles a signed junction points left to a trail that ascends 0.2 miles to the 2858 foot summit of Cumberland Knob and the CCC Picnic Shelter.  Go right and soon a second trail (unsigned) branches to the left that leads to Cumberland Knob.  Continue right and soon the trail becomes paved as you cross the meadow toward the information station then on to the parking area. 

This hike is featured in the hiking guide book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There are maps and pictures below of the Cumberland Knob Recreational Area.

Waterfall along the Gully Creek Trail

Gully Creek Trail


Developed Areas Along the Parkway

North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway