I woke up that morning, drank a cup of coffee, looked outside and knew what would be in store the day: a SOTA activation!
My schedule was actually open that fine Tuesday because my daughters were on spring break from school, so the only problem was deciding which summit to activate. A good problem, in other words!
After staring at the SOTL.AS map for a while, I decided to activate Flat Top Mountain (W4C/EM-026) near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. One of the main reasons I chose Flat Top was because the roughly five mile round-trip hike is such a pleasant, casual one. My left ankle was recuperating from a bit of a strain, so I knew Flat Top’s flat, wide carriage trails would fulfill my need for exercise without straining my ankle (which, by the way, is doing much better now).
The drive to Flat Top is a beautiful one–a good third of it is on the Blue Ridge Parkway including the Linn Cove Viaduct which offers up stunning long-range views. I made my way to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, at BRP milepost 294, where I parked the car and put on my hiking boots.
The park was pretty active for early April, no doubt because the weather was so stunning.
I checked out the beautiful Flat Top Manor to see if renovations had been completed.
Flat Top Manor was built by in 1901 by Moses Cone who was a very successful local textile entrepreneur, conservationist and philanthropist. It’s so fitting that this beautiful bit of architecture and these expansive grounds (which includes no less than two SOTA summits) are now protected by the National Park Service for all to enjoy.
I started my hike by following one of the carriage trails in front of the manor. It leads past a farm building, then crosses under the Blue Ridge Parkway two-lane road. Continue reading QRP DX: A beautiful day for SOTA on Flat Top Mountain!