April is that unique, enchanted, fleeting moment in the Blue Ridge Mountains called spring. It’s a time when these ancient mountains, carved by the scars of millennial time and erosion, take on the spellbinding quality of metamorphosis from brown, quiet winter to loud, luscious spring.
The green of new leaves, grasses, mosses, and lichens is luminous, and light rain acts like confectioner glaze. Orange spotted newts, only seen for a fleeting few weeks, dot the trails like little incandescent candies, brighter than what seems possible. On the rare bald mountain tops, the views are mesmerizing. The approaching, rolling fog hugs the mountains and moves with a life of its own.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are unique among mountains. They lack the sky-reaching, massive quality of the Rockies, or the Alps. They lack the awe-inspiring quality found above tree line on snow covered mountain tops. The mix of deciduous and evergreen trees make them look more like hills than proper mountains. However, these are the qualities that make them so unique, ever changing. They are the reason why the Blue Ridge has a very special place in my heart.
Every season in the Blue Ridge Mountains is enchanting, from a winter ice storm that encases trees like glass to the summer nights with swarms of fireflies so bright your heart skips a beat.
These are mountains carved by the history of humans and the history of the World itself. They are some of the oldest mountains in the World and used to be some of the tallest in history. Their current rounded shape speaks of the millions of years of erosion. Today, the tallest peak in their midst is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina which raises 6,684 feet.
I spend countless hours running in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and no two days are ever the same. The same view is always changing, and I always discover something new. This time of year, the explosion of leaves and life makes the mountains alive, even more than usual. Birds, insects, plants, and bears leap to life, searching for food, mates, pollination.
I cherish every second because I know it’s short-lived. The newts are only seen for a few weeks. I don’t know where they go the rest of the year, but seeing them makes me feel special.
I love the quality of the fog on my skin and in my lungs, the humidity so thick that you can smell it and taste it. I love the powerful thunderstorms, awe-inspiring and terrifying at the same time.
April is a perfect time in North Carolina and Virginia. The valleys and piedmont have fully exploded, but the tops of the mountains are still transitioning from brown to green. If you’re thinking about a visit, opt for spring. It is truly beautiful and certainly less busy than fall. Two of the best towns to stay are Charlottesville, VA and Asheville, NC, which offer a plethora of restaurants, hotels and cultural activities, yet are only 20-25 minutes away from the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are also many places to sleep right in the mountains: Shenandoah National Park, for example, offers several lodges and campgrounds.
Explore something unseen this spring and come to the Blue Ridge!