FROM the NC DOT
RALEIGH — A 52-mile section of road near Mount Mitchell in Yancey County was officially recognized for its outstanding beauty and unique cultural features on Wednesday, Aug. 4 when the N.C. Board of Transportation voted to designate the corridor as the state’s newest Scenic Byway. The Yancey County Transportation Task Force proposed the corridor for the designation.
“The Mount Mitchell Scenic Drive, which passes through state parks, national forests and National Park Service land, has multiple qualities that meet and exceed the department’s criteria for a byway proposal, making it the perfect candidate to receive the honor of a Scenic Byway designation,” said NCDOT Scenic Byways coordinator Jeff Lackey.
The route begins on N.C. 128 in Yancey County atop Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern United States with an altitude of 6,684 feet and one of 16 peaks over 6,000 feet tall which make up the Black Mountain Range. Mount Mitchell State Park was established to return the mountains to nature and intercede in the exploitation of the industrial scale lumbering that was destroying the East’s tall summits. From the park, the scenic drive follows the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers expanding vistas of the Black Mountains. The drive then descends into the South Toe River Valley, continuing into Burnsville and dropping some 4,500 feet in elevation. Homesteads, farms, pastures, churches and small communities dot the landscape in this rural area of Yancey and Madison counties. Visitors may also notice colorful squares hanging on the sides of barns and businesses along the route. Part of the Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina project, these blocks represent different quilting patterns that reflect the heritage of the place where they are located.
The Mount Mitchell Scenic Drive follows eight sections of road:
4.9 miles of N.C. 128
11.3 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway
13.4 miles of N.C. 80
3.8 miles of U.S. 19 East
2 miles of East Main Street in Burnsville
16.6 miles of U.S. 19 East into Madison County
The byway ends at the intersection of U.S. 19/23 and Interstate 26 north of Mars Hill.
As part of its new designation as a scenic byway, the Mount Mitchell Scenic Drive will be marked by official NCDOT Scenic Byway signs and included in NCDOT’s Scenic Byways Guide, which provides information on all 54 scenic byways in North Carolina and is distributed throughout the United States and as far away as Australia.
For more information on the N.C. Scenic Byways program, visit http://www.ncdot.gov/travel/scenic.