Moses Cone Carriage Trails, Blowing Rock, NC
That's Cline in the center. We love to take family and friends to ride. (Regulations prohibit our providing carriage services to the public.) On this gorgeous fall day, Sarah Branton and Becky Smith of Shelby joined us for a ride to the Manor House, and on to the top of Rich Mountain.
At the turn of the century, Moses Cone, the "Denim King," and his wife, Bertha, began building their summer estate on 3,516 acres outside Blowing Rock. Moses' gift to his wife was 25 miles of beautiful, sloping carriage roads. These trails, now maintained by the National Park Service, are open to horseback riders, joggers, hikers, cross-country skiers, and, of course, carriages. The Manor House is located at Milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
OCT.18, 1998 -- Kathryn's Column
If you want to get away from it all, and can't afford airfare to Paris, I have 2 suggestions: tube the Broad River or hike or ride the Cone Park Carriage Trails. These close-home getaways are well-kept secrets, so I'm counting on you not to tell.
However, riding your buggy along mountain trails is not as stress-free as you might think. First you have to get your husband to the mountains with all the stuff he will need: horses, lap robe, hay, horse collars, bridles, and more lap robes. Until I computerized our list of essentials, we would find ourselves stranded at the stables - raring to go, bumming horse collars off strangers.
Even though the farmer is a veteran buggy driver, he can occasionally scare even the most seasoned buggy passenger. There are sharp turns and switchbacks on the trail that can spook your team, too. Sometimes there is nothing to do but get out and push your rig up the hill.
Because the trails are such a pleasurable adventure, we enjoy inviting friends along when we have an extra buggy seat or two. Last weekend, our guests included a genuine Southern lady; i.e., she was "reared in Atlanta." She was too polite to ask why a roll of toilet paper was packed in our picnic basket.
The last adventure, however, that I ever expected to experience on the trails was to get arrested.
During one of our recent trips, we were trotting along, admiring the rhododendron, when a man disguised as a tree hugger lunged toward our buggy and flashed his badge. He was an undercover park ranger and was loaded for bear.
He looked me straight in the eyes and asked, "Lady, how much did you pay to ride in this buggy?"
I started adding it up in my head. "If the truth were known, sir, probably well over $12,000, counting the horse trailer payment, the horse shoe bill, and the mail orders from the Amish."
This is the closest I have ever come to having the book thrown at me. The park ranger let me know that paying to ride is against the rules. Thank goodness I could call back a few Southern charms myself, which saved the day.
The park ranger was right: "The best things in life are free." But sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.
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