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Asheville-area Blue Ridge Parkway begins spring openings today



3/27/2012 - Asheville-area Blue Ridge Parkway begins spring openings today
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times


BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY -- If you've had a hankering for almond-encrusted mountain trout, served with a mouth-watering view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, make your way down to Pisgah Inn tonight.

The only restaurant on the parkway in North Carolina, the Pisgah Inn is set to open at 5 p.m. today in time for dinner, after the long winter closure since Oct. 30. On Wednesday the dining room will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Also opening will be the 51-room inn, the gift shop and the Country Store, all nestled beneath iconic Mount Pisgah near Milepost 408, about 30 miles southwest of Asheville.

"We will stay open this year until Nov. 4," said inn manager Rob Miller. "We anticipate an absolutely fantastic season in light of all the calls we've been getting. We always recommend making reservations in advance, especially on busy weekends."

The concession is the first of the parkway facilities to open for the spring. Other parkway campgrounds, picnic areas and visitor centers won't start opening until April and May, said Michael Molling, parkway chief of maintenance.

The nearby Mount Pisgah campground and picnic area will open May 11.

The trail to the 5,721-foot summit of Mount Pisgah is open year-round, as long as the parkway is open.

Miller said he already has guests booked for tonight and is expecting a slow, steady stream of visitors, through April 15. That's when repair work on the Ferrin Knob tunnel No. 1, at Milepost 401, is expected to be completed.

The parkway has been closed from Milepost 393 at N.C. 191/Brevard Road, south to Milepost 405 at N.C. 151 since February, Molling said, to make repairs to the tunnel.

This closure blocks off the direct route between Asheville and the Mount Pisgah area.

But visitors can take N.C. 151 to access the inn. The stretch of parkway between U.S. 19 at Milepost 455.7 to the end of the parkway at U.S. 441 in Cherokee is also closed through April 15, to complete repairs on the Big Witch Tunnel at Milepost 461.

The warm, mild weather this winter has helped to keep the construction projects on target, Molling said.



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