One of the Parkway's most rewarding hikes climbs 2,000 feet (one way) in 3.5 miles from the Boone Fork lot at Mile 299.5 Grandfather Mountain, the most iconic peak on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville, N.C., and the Virginia state line, practically dares hikers check out to its highest crags. Because the peak is so prominent on the Parkway, it's only natural to answer Grandfather's challenge from one of the road's turnouts. My favorite way to hike this route is to start out from the Boone Fork parking area on the Tanawha trail, take the right turn at the Nuwati Trail, follow it to the left turn at Cragway Trail, and pause at the Flat Rock junction with the Daniel Boone Scout Trail. From there, I take the Scout Trail to the high point at Calloway Peak, and return on it all the way to the trailhead. Best time to go: The autumn colors of late early October will be spectacular, but the weekend crowds may dim the glow (weekdays should be far less crowded). The rhododendron bloom of early June is another great time to go. Early winter, before the first blizzards, and early spring, after the snow's melted, offer the best views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. Winter is the least-advisable time to attempt this hike: the Parkway is typically closed and deep snow can totally obscure the trail.