Locals call it “the backside” not because it is ugly or resembles a derriere, but because this particular carriage trail on the Cone Manor Estate meanders more than 2.5 miles west, then north — and always up — to get from what we call the upper parking area on U.S. 221 to the path below Flat Top Manor (the Cone Manor itself). By comparison, the trip back down to Bass Lake is shorter and just that — down. Beautiful shady pathways early in the route eventually give way to views of the old apple orchard that dates back to the turn of the century, and then the Manor itself. As you descend toward Bass Lake on the return trip, on a still evening you may be blessed with colorful reflections of the trees on the tranquil waters down beyond where the trail curves toward the lake’s dam. Two things to watch out for, one good and one bad: keep an eye out for birds and deer and other wildlife — and watch out for horse manure. This is a carriage trail, after all, and riders frequently traverse the course on horseback, just like in the old days.
Distance: 4.57 miles
Elevation Gain: 492 ft.
Elevation Loss: 505 ft.
Minimum Elevation: 3,567 feet above sea level
Maximum Elevation: 3,999 feet above sea level
- Age: 63 years old
- Ht., Wgt: 5’10”, 255 lbs
- Elapsed time: 1 hr., 29 minutes
- Avg. Moving Pace: 18:50 minutes per mile
Sights Along the Way
From the upper parking lot, look for the old iron gate to your left.
After a short distance, the initial path dead ends into the main carriage trail. Turn left and go across the entry road to Bass Lake. It only looks like the fabled dark entrance into Sherwood Forest, but you are unlikely to encounter Robin Hood or the Sheriff of Nottingham on this trail.
Beauty and wonder await on the trip up to Flat Top Manor. Half way up, take the road to the right. Going left will take you to the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve. A nice place to find a horse, but that is not your mission on this hiking trip.
Find the grand ol’ lady herself at the top: Flat Top Manor.
The downleg is shorter, but no less spectacular for the flora, fauna and tranquility — at least on most days.