Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017

Hawksbill Mountain - Too Early for Rhododendron Blooms

May 06, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

It was a bit too early for the Carolina Rhododendrons during my recent hike up Hawksbill Mountain on May 3rd.  It seemed like they needed another 7-10 days to cook a bit more.  If you've never been to Hawksbill, it can be a challenging hike with load of camera gear on your back and less than new legs to carry it on.  But I did make the hike on a sunny warm day.  Hawksbill can be a challenging short hike given its steep grade.  At only about 3/4 mile, its not a long hike by any means.  But the hike is more than a moderate hike, especially the last half of it.  That's when the grade really steps up.  Without gear, I don't find it particularly bad so its the extra load that slows you (me) down.  Carry only the equipment you need.  For instance, I left my 70-300mm telephoto lens at home.

Hawksbill can also be a challenge with exposure.  The main compositions are north - south so its hard to get good look except during the early or late parts of the day.  Cloudy days would be excellent.  But since I live about two hours away, so getting there early or staying late and walking out in the dark doesn't work too well.

Given that you're pretty high and there is nothing to break the wind, there is always some wind at the top.  So be ready to use a high ISO to get some respectable shutter speeds.  The best I could do was about 1/160th of a second.

At the top, there are two good vantage points for photography. One of the north end and the other at the south side.  Be extremely careful moving around.  There are shear drop-offs so one bad step and you're a goner.  That goes for dropping any gear too if its facing downhill.  But use common sense and you'll be OK.

I hope to head back this coming week to hopefully have another shot at the rhododendron blooms.


Hawksbill MountainHawksbill Mountain


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