Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Blue Ridge Parkway

The new Adkins book details the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The new Adkins book details the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The new Adkins book details the Blue Ridge Parkway.

They call Leonard Adkins “The Habitual Hiker,” and no wonder. Adkins, who used to live in Catawba but currently resides in Richmond, has through-hiked all 2000 miles-plus of the Appalachian Trail several times, in addition to long walks all over the U.S. and elsewhere. Adkins is also an author, chronicling the trails in minute detail for others.

His newest release is Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Only Guide You Will Ever Need, Including GPS, Maps, and More, billed as the only guidebook to provide a detailed description of every National Park Service trail along the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Adkins will sign copies of his book from 2-4 pm at the Barnes & Noble – Valley View Mall on Sunday, June 2 from 2-4 pm. On Friday, June 7, from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm he’ll appear at Barnes & Noble in Spradlin Farms, Christiansburg,

In addition, every other trail that even touches or comes close to the parkway – including those in the Roanoke area- also gets a mention. Forest Service and State Park trails are in the mix now, even some trails at private resorts at Wintergreen and those on Mill Mountain locally. Roanoke greenway trails that come close the parkway are included as well. Lodges and dining along the parkway and nearby services (gas, etc.) in close vicinity get a mention.

Maps and GPS coordinates for trailheads are features in Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a reincarnation of an earlier Adkins book, Walking the Blue Ridge. “When it was time to update it again we decided to greatly expand it [instead]” said Adkins, “it now has a map for every trail that it talks about.”

Adkins is known for his accuracy, and he walked every one of the 130 official parkway trails in the book with a surveyor’s measuring wheel, to ensure he got the mileage right. There’s more: descriptions of every overlook on the parkway, elevation changes in a chart for bicyclists, water and restrooms, minimum tunnel heights for RV travelers and sightseeing information about nearby towns that includes details on greenways. Adkins said Roanoke is “way ahead of everyone else with greenways.”

Roanoke, Floyd, Asheville and other major cities or towns along the Parkway are described, with Center in the Square, the Farmer’s Market and the Taubman Museum getting a mention as things to do when you want to come off of the road for a while. The Chestnut Ridge Trail and Glenwood Horse Trail, along with the Roanoke Valley Horse Trail are also in the book.

There’s also information on campsites, picnic areas, a roadside calendar about flower blooms, an overview of parkway regulations and directions to parkway ranger offices. Featured as well are three or four sentences on the view from each overlook or the history of the land surrounding it. Whew! might be the word.

Adkins’ previous books, including Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, The Appalachian Trail: A Visitor’s Companion, 50 Hikes in Northern Virginia, and Explorer’s Guide West Virginia, have won numerous awards, such as the National Outdoor Book Award and the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. The newest Adkins book “is set up as if you are traveling southward on the parkway from milepost 1. As we call it, the only guide you’ll ever need.” Hiking and Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway is also available at visitor’s centers along the parkway.

By Gene Marrano