Saturday morning, as a last longer run before heading to Milepost 0, I ran my favorite 10-miler around Moses Cone Estates. 27 miles of Carriage Trails form a network on the property.
Here are edited results from my running watch including a map of the run. The route starts at Bass Lake. After a flat warmup around Bass Lake, it makes the gradual ascent to Cone Manor on the southwest side of the lake. After a quick water break at Cone Manor, it goes under the BRP and then left to Trout Lake. The trail moves around the lake onto the short drive to the Trout Lake parking area then briefly up Shull's Mill Road and straight across the complex intersection onto a narrow paved road that eventually leads back UP! to Cone Manor. Another quick water break precedes the descent on the path down toward the Apple Barn. Then comes the Maze down to Bass Lake with a flat finish.
I ran an extra .2 miles to get the running watch to 10 miles--my running friends laugh at my insistence for getting the running watch to report a "full run" in spite of the fact that we all know it's an underestimate of the actual distance run. Speaking of "actual distance", here's a great map resource with definitive distances on everything you can run/hike at Cone Manor Trails. Many thanks to whoever actually "wheeled" those trails to get the exact measurements. I adjusted the distance in my online results to reflect the actual distance from that map of 10.5 miles.
Saturday morning had glorious weather. Hikers were in abundance along with a few trail runners and horseback riders. Among the hikers I met were several new Appalachian State graduates, folks from Hickory, Lenoir, Columbia, SC, and an artist from Pittsburgh working on a painting of Bass Lake. Cone Manor itself was abuzz with visitors and volunteers from the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The Estate felt like a big friendly community unto itself--compete strangers were greeting each other as if we were neighbors. And I guess for a few hours, we were.
The Cone Manor Estate is an invaluable resource on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway Association was in Boone for its Spring Meeting last week. We were given a tour both floors of the Manor House. Many things I already knew: The 3500-acre estate was purchased in the late 1800s by Moses Cone. The 13,000-sq st Manor House was competed in 1901. Moses Cone died only seven years later, but Bertha Cone, his wife, managed the active estate until her death in 1947. Upon her death, the estate became property of Cone Memorial Hospital and then was donated to the National Park Service in 1950.
But I learned a lot in that tour. Most of the vast apple orchards were cut down within a couple years by the National Park Service. Also in 1950, there were 55 structures on the property but all were torn down except for 5. Because of the level of pesticides used on the apple trees for so many years, apples and even the fish caught in Bass Lake are not suitable for human consumption.
All I really know is... It's one of my favorite places on the planet!