Doughton Park

Located near mile post 240 in Wilkes and Alleghany Counties, Doughton Park is the largest recreation area on the Blue Ridge Parkway at around 6000 acres.  The park has a campsite, scenic overlooks, historic structures, and more than thirty miles of hiking trails.  There is also a lodge, restaurant, and gift shop, but these amenities are currently closed.  The area was once known as the Bluffs, but was renamed in 1961 for Robert Lee Doughton, a parkway supporter and US Congressman.

Directions:

Doughton Park is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, from mile posts 238.5 to 244.7, with several parking areas to access the park.  There is also a parking area on Long Bottom Road to access the park from the base of the mountain, as well as access to the backcountry camping area.  From Elkin, take US-21 north for about 12 miles and turn left on Traphill Road (at the sign for Stone Mountain State Park).  Go about 5.2 miles and turn right on Long Bottom Road and drive about 8.1 miles.  The parking area will be on the left immediately before the bridge over Basin Creek.

Map:

Hiking:

Bluff Mountain Trail:

Length: 7.5 miles (one way)

Bluff Mountain Trail runs roughly parallel to the parkway for the length of the park.  The southwestern terminus is at the Basin Cove Overlook and the northeastern terminus is at the Brinegar Cabin.  Along the way, the trail passes the summit of Bluff Mountain and crosses several overlooks along the parkway, as well as the picnic area, campground, and the currently-closed lodge and restaurant.

Cedar Ridge Trail:

Length: 4.4 miles (one way)

The trailhead for Cedar Ridge Trail is on Grassy Gap Road, just past the gate at the Long Bottom Road parking area.  From here, the trail heads up along a forested ridge line on the northern end of the park, gaining about 2000 vertical feet over its course.  The trail ends at the northeastern terminus of Bluff Mountain Trail near Brinegar Cabin.

Flat Rock Ridge Trail:

Length: 5.0 miles (one way)

The trailhead for Flat Rock Ridge Trail is across the street from the Long Bottom Road parking area, across the bridge from Grassy Gap Road.  The trail runs five miles, gaining about 2000 vertical feet, along the southern boundary of the park.  The trail is mostly forested, but there are a few openings with views of the cove from the trail.

Points of Interest:

There are several scenic overlooks in the park that are right off the parkway, as well as historical structures for visitors to learn about the park's past.

Bluff Mountain Overlook:

The View Bluff Mountain Overlook is located at mile post 244 on the parkway.  From the overlook, the rocky summit of Bluff Mountain can be seen to the left and Flat Rock Ridge to the right.

Brinegar Cabin:

Brinegar Cabin and Overlook is located at mile post 239 on the parkway.  On foot, the cabin and overlook can be reached by the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, just east of where Cedar Ridge and Bluff Mountain Trails intersect.  Besides the cabin, there is a parking area and overlook of the Basin Cove gorge below.

The cabin was built in the 1880s by Martin Brinegar, who lived there with his wife Carolina and family.  The family lived in the cabin until the 1930s, when Martin's widow sold the land to the parkway.  Today, the cabin has been restored and interpretive staff are present on weekends to answer questions and talk to visitors about the history of the cabin and mountain life.

Wildcat Rock Overlook:

Wildcat Rock Overlook is located near the currently-closed lodge and the start of Fodder Stack Trail.  The overlook provides perhaps the best views of the Basin Cove valley below.  Caudill Cabin, located 800 feet below the overlook, is just barely visible.

Blog Entries:

26Jul2014: Doughton Park Hike

30May2015: Doughton Park Training Hike

Photos:

Videos:

Here's a video I made of a long 17-mile circuit hike, consisting of Cedar Ridge Trail, Bluff Mountain Trail, and Flat Rock Ridge Trail in July 2014.


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