I went to the Craggy Gardens area of the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 20 mile north of Asheville, NC. I missed the rhododendron bloom by a few weeks, but there were still ample examples of local color and gnarled trees, two of my favorite things.Trip writeup at Two-Heel Drive
Best time to come is in early to mid-June, when the Rhododendron bloom is out in full force. Dress for cool weather -- this is along one of the highest sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway and it's often windy, cold and rainy. A section of the Mountains to Sea trail is accessible from the visitor's center on the parkway. Like many trails in these mountains, it's rocky and quite rugged.