Boone Fork Bowl in the Sunshine

Boone Fork Bowl in the Sunshine

The weekend of June 15 - 16, 2013, I went backpacking in Boone Fork bowl. This high mountain valley is the headwaters of the Boone Fork, which is best known as the creek feeding and exiting from Price Lake in Price Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The bowl is located south of Price Park and north of Grandfather Mountain. Boone Fork Trail in Price Park also follows this creek part of the way from Price Lake cross country to where the creek joins the Watauga River just west of Hounds Ears Golf Course at the downhill end of Shulls Mill Road.


Despite hundreds of outdoor trips under my belt, I find that there is sufficient variety in every outing that each one brings something new or another first. This excursion was calculated to be easy and accommodating of an abbreviated schedule. Due to the press of business at the law office (bankruptcy work is up!) I had to limit the trip to Saturday afternoon, one night in the woods and Sunday morning. There was almost no altitude gain. The best that I can recall, this approximately 4 miles round trip was my shortest and flattest backpack since I was in the Boy Scouts in Taylorsville 48 years ago. When I returned to my truck at the end of the trip, my feet were the least sore that I can remember in many years. Hey, here is an idea! I may plan more future trips that are not Bataan death marches for an old codger like me.

I started at the Boone Fork parking lot on the Parkway and connected to the Tanawha Trail, which parallels the west side of the Parkway. From there my route took me to the Nuwati Trail. Then crossing numerous small feeder creeks, the itinerary called for passing the junction with the Cragway Trail to my campsite called Streamside.

So, what else was different? Well, after setting up camp at Streamside by early afternoon, I continued day hiking up into the Bowl on the Nuwati Trail, past the campsites called the Hermitage and Storyteller's Rock to The Refuge. Right in the actual path of the side trail to the Storyteller's Rock campsite, under a root, I found a double bird's nest with three tiny white eggs. See the picture above.

I passed several other hikers and backpackers, but I did not see any other tent camps. All the backpackers seemed to be headed to campsites higher on the mountain. I was in sunshine all day.

Back at camp, everything worked the way it was supposed to do. I pumped and filtered water from the creek, cooked a hot supper of chili and beans on my gas canister stove, read my Field and Stream magazine, used the light from my gas lantern to clean up camp, hung my food from a tree in a bear bag, got in bed and went to sleep.

The next day dawned to more sunshine. What a break! Morning camp chores and a breakfast of bacon and grits led to packing dry gear and an easy backpack out to the truck. I was in the parking lot by 10 a.m. On the way home I stopped at the Cone Estate on the Parkway and shopped for some classic silver and pearl jewelry for my lovely wife. It was a pleasant interlude from slaving in the salt mines at the McElwee law office.

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Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.