Velo Vol, on the picture you attached above you are not looking at the observation deck, but down on the parking lot and out toward an adjacent mountain. The observation deck is on the other side of the camera in this picture. It is about 100 or so yards from the top parking lot to the deck. My garmin was showing grades of 12-15% for this connecting pathway. Great 360 view from the deck by the way.
It was a great weekend for riding in these parts and, the trip up the Parkway and Mt. Mitchell was particularly nice - especially since we were on fresh legs. We had 4980 feet of gain in just over 32 miles according to my Garmin. About the only bummer was realizing, after arriving at the Hwy80/BRP starting point Sunday morning, that I had left my tool kit in the motel room in Burnsville. Oh well... I decided to drive back to the motel after our ride since its only about 45 minutes. I picked it up then headed to the Hilltop Restaurant because I was starving and had their spaghetti dinner on my mind. Well, they were closed. As a matter of fact, everyplace on the square was closed. The place was desolate. So I drove to the Western Sizzler for lunch then headed back. The Sunday buffet was pretty good actually.
We had little time on our hands late Saturday afternoon so, we decided to visit Roan Mountain from the NC side since we will be paying it a visit in July. We drove to Bakersville, and 12 miles and 2700 feet later arrived at Carver's Gap. Something tells me our next trip isn't going to be this easy .