A Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook with historical buildings just beyond the trees.
At milepost 272.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Tompkins Knob Overlook… which, except in the winter, doesn’t actually provide a very good view of Tompkins Knob. It does however, hide a great historical gem that sits just about 100 yards through the trees. Cool Springs Baptist Church and Jesse Brown’s Cabin are two late 19th century buildings that have been restored and preserved. They sit next to the Blue Ridge Parkway in a beautiful meadow with a large maple tree.
The Tompkins Knob Overlook is located at milepost 272.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway just a few miles east of Deep Gap, North Carolina. It is easily spotted from the Blue Ridge Parkway and it has a modest parking area. There are no restroom or picnic tables at this overlook but there are both at E.B. Jeffress Park which is just a 1/2 mile North on the parkway . Tompkins Knob Overlook is only 30 minutes from Wilkesboro North Carolina or about 30-45 minutes from the North Carolina mountain towns of Boone, Banner Elk, or Blowing Rock.
The walk to the church and cabin is very short and starts at the east side of the overlook. The Mountains to Sea trail cuts across the overlook so there are trails leading off in both directions but the trail to the cabins is clearly marked on the overlook sign. Walk down the grass hill on the side of the overlook and you can’t miss the trail. It is only about a football field long with almost no elevation change. You quickly pop out of the forest and onto a beautiful meadow with Jesse Brown’s Cabin viewable just behind the large maple tree. Cool Springs Baptist Church is at the far end of the meadow on the right.
Neither the cabin or the church are very big but they are really neat to check out. They are open and you can go inside although there aren’t any furnishings. They are completely empty although the cabin does have a nice fireplace that is worth checking out.
There is also a Springhouse just south of the cabin in the woods. It is visible from the cabin and has a very short trail leading down to it. The cold waters of the natural spring were used as an early form of refrigeration for food stored in the structure.
The meadow, cabin, and church are a beautiful and relaxing area that would make a great spot for a picnic.
If you noticed the trail leading into the woods next to the church, this is where the Mountains to Sea trail continues to E.B. Jeffress Park. It is only 6/10’s of a mile hike to the park which has the beautiful Cascade Falls. You can also drive to the park but some people hike between the two. Please watch the HD Carolina episode on E.B. Jeffress Park for more information on this destination.
When you have finished enjoying Cool Springs Baptist Church and Jesse Brown’s Cabin, take the short trail back to the parking area.