On Sunday, we decided to hike a section of the Mountains to the Sea Trail that runs the ridge line overlooking Avery Creek Basin and the Shining Rock Wilderness. The Parkway was closed due to snow and ice. We could took 276 to the parkway access at the Wagon Road Gap overlook between mile marker 411 and 412 and parked there. The parkway gates were closed in both directions.
We walked about 1/4-1/2 mile on the parkway to the trailhead near mile marker 412. The trail immediately started up. The trail rose steadily gaining about 900 feet in elevation then continuing on the ridge line for a couple of miles. There are great views in the winter with the trees bare of leaves. The views from both sides of this ridge were gorgeous. It is the first time we’ve been able to see the entire Avery Creek drainage and the ridge trails surrounding it.
The Mountains to the Sea trail criss crosses the parkway several times, so we hiked down and reached the parkway between mile markers 414 and 415 walking the parkway back to the car. It felt weird walking on the road. We estimate that we hiked around 5 1/2 miles in all with 900 feet in elevation gain. Great hike!