A moderate loop hike with a pond, creek, and a beautiful mountain pasture. A great hike to take if you are in the area!
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Julian Price Memorial Park area near Blowing Rock North Carolina is the short and moderate hike known as the Green Knob trail. This 2.3 mile loop trail is a wonderful hike that starts at the picturesque Sims Pond and passes through a variety of beautiful landscapes as the trail parallels Sims Creek for a time before climbing and traversing the mountain area around Green Knob. It’s a great hike if you short on time but want to experience a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Julian Price Memorial Park was named in honor of Julian Price who was an insurance executive in the early part of the twentieth century. Mr. Price originally purchased the area in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s to create a retreat for the employees of his insurance company. When he died suddenly in 1946, his heirs gave the land to the Blue Ridge Parkway as a memorial to the man who enjoyed sharing the area’s natural beauty with others. Julian Price Memorial Park is adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park which, combined, comprise the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Parkway.
The trailhead for the Green Knob trail is located at the Sims Pond Overlook at milepost 295.9 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is easy to spot off the parkway as there is good signage and Sims Pond can be seen easily from the road. There is a large parking area at the overlook which is adequate for most days but it can become full during peak periods. There are no restroom facilities at the Sims Pond Overlook. The trailhead isn’t too far from any of the North Carolina mountain towns like Blowing Rock, Boone, or Banner Elk.
The trail begins at the bridge that crosses over Sims Creek on the Southwest side of Sims Pond. Follow the obvious path that leads along the pond and into the forest on the far side. As you parallel Sims Pond the trail will ascend until you reach the end of the pond and the trail descends down to cross Sims Creek. If the creek is high, you may need to get your feet wet. From here the trail is mostly flat as you walk along Sims Creek crossing it several times. This is a very beautiful and lush section of the forest. As you near the Blue Ridge Parkway and eventually cross under it, the trail becomes slightly more hilly but nothing too difficult to hike. After crossing under the parkway, you cross Sims Creek one last time on a nicely constructed trail bridge.
The trail will stay flat for a little bit longer as you walk through rhododendrons. This is a very wet area of the forest and, depending on the amount of recent rainfall, it may be a little muddy as numerous small creeks and overflows make their way down to Sims Creek.
Soon the trail starts the climb up the mountain as the trail moves farther away from Sims Creek. The ascent isn’t too bad but it is all uphill from this point until you reach the crest of the trail. Most of the hike is through the woods but eventually you reach a beautiful pasture that may actually have cows grazing in it. Walk through the opening in the fence and follow the trail up the pasture. The trail will veer left and continue working its way up the hill entering the forest again briefly. The trail peaks at the second pasture you encounter. While the views of the pastures and forest are beautiful and worth the hike, don’t expect any panoramic views from the summit as the forest obstructs the view. However, if you wanted a nice spot to sit back, relax and maybe have a picnic, the top of the trail wouldn’t be a bad choice.
As you walk through the second fence opening and back into the woods, the trail begins to descend sharply. There is a nice opening in the forest that provides a great view of Calloway Peak in the distance. From here it is only a short distance to complete the loop.
The trail intersects the parkway about 100ft south of the Sims Pond Overlook and on the opposite side of the street. Use caution as you walk along the parkway and cross the street in order to get back to the overlook and complete your hike.