Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on September 2, 2023.
Moses Cone Memorial Park (near Blowing Rock and Boone) is a High Country tribute to one of North Carolina‘s most successful entrepreneurs. Originally dubbed Flat Top Manor, the home was built for the famed “Denim King” Moses Cone and his wife Bertha as a summer retreat.
Today, the home and its surroundings are preserved as Moses H Cone Memorial Park by the National Parks Service as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 294.1). Our guide is focused on how you can enjoy this wonderful space as we have many times.
Here’s a breakdown of the sections you will find below:
- Moses Cone Memorial Park History in 15+ Quick Facts (Moses Cone Biography and Park History)
- Things to Do at Moses Cone Memorial Park
- Nearby Attractions
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- More Things to Do Nearby (High Country Travel Guides)
You can skip ahead to any of the aforementioned sections or keep reading about exactly who was Moses Cone and how his Flat Top Manor became Moses Cone Memorial Park.
Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Blowing Rock area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park History in 15+ Quick Facts
Who was Moses Cone? This section answers that question and more with a quick set of facts about him and the park that bears his name.
- The prosperous textile entrepreneur Moses Cone made his fortune in denim (known as the “Denim King”).
- He was born in Jonesboro, Tennesse and was the son of Bavarian immigrants.
- Moses and his brother Ceasar purchased the Asheville-based C.E. Graham Manufacturing Company in 1887.
- He married Bertha Lindau in 1888.
- In 1892, Moses reorganized the manufacturing business and renamed it as the Asheville Cotton Mills.
- Of course, Moses Cone isn’t known as much for his achievements in Asheville as he is for the money he made in Greensboro. The city has long been referred to as “Jeansboro,” thanks to people like Moses Cone.
- In the 1890s, he was largely responsible for the establishment of Gate City’s Southern Finishing and Warehouse Company.
- While building his fortune, Cone sought a summer retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1892, he purchased a 3,600-acre tract of land in Blowing Rock.
- In 1899, Cone built the Revolution Mill, once the world’s largest flannel mill.
- During the same year, construction of Flat Top Manor began in Blowing Rock.
- The result was a stunning 23-room mansion surrounded by extensive pine forests, manufactured lakes, and apple orchards. Two cottages behind Flat Top Manor housed the African-American servants who worked for the Cone Family.
- The property also included about twenty-five miles of carriage roads, horse trails, and woodlands ripe for strolls.
- Moses Cone welcomed people from the community to walk or ride horses on the carriage trails and explore the property.
- He died on December 8, 1908 due to heart disease and his wife Bertha spent another 39 summers at Flat Top Manor.
- When Bertha died on June 8, 1947, there were no children from the marriage and according to the Cones’ will, the estate’s funds would be used to construct the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.
- The hospital was gifted Flat Top Manor, too, and the estate operated as a free park. However, the estate was soonafter donated to the National Park Service and would eventually become part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Things to Do at Moses Cone Memorial Park Today
Today, the former Cone estate serves as a beautiful park and excellent memorial to Moses and Bertha.
The carriage trails at Moses Cone Parks are open year-round, and Flat Top Manor (the Moses Cone fire tower) remains seasonally open, typically from mid-April through the end of November.
This is a popular Blue Ridge Parkway stop (Milepost 294.1), so we highly suggest you arrive early on weekends and holidays. There is a large parking area to accommodate many visitors who’ve come to enjoy Flat Top Manor’s historic charm and natural surroundings.
Speaking of which, here are all the things to do at Moses Cone Memorial Park.
Moses Cone Manor House
Moses and Bertha mapped this house out to serve as a refuge from the business world. That refuge is now available to anyone willing to take a chance and pull over.
Your first stop should be at Flat Top Manor, which serves as the park’s visitor center. During open hours, you can speak to friendly rangers ready to give you the lay of the land.
Flat Top Manor also serves as the start and ending point for the historical tours that show you the inner workings of this summer home.
Cone Manor House Tours typically take place on weekends and on a seasonal basis. The NPS offers a list of events at Blue Ridge Parkway attractions, which include these tours.
Parkway Craft Center
The Manor House hosts hand-made crafts produced by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
Check out some of the best in handmade Appalachia throughout the house’s first floor, and if you’re lucky, you’ll show up just in time for a show.
Seasonal woodworking events and craft demonstrations take place right on the front porch. You’ll spend the afternoon learning about traditional ceramic and sewing methods while soaking in a High Country golden hour.
Moses H, Cone Park Trails
In addition to a place of rest, Moses made sure the estate included plenty of opportunities to get outside. Carved among fine apple orchards and stocked up lakes are 25 miles of paths for all levels.
Easy trails start and end at the manor, including the Blue Ridge Crafts Trail, which follows the original trails Moses Cone used for exercise.
If you’re looking for a longer walk, one of our favorite hikes in the area is the pathway to Flat Top Observation Tower. This trail starts at the Manor House.
Head out from the manor and watch as the landscape opens to mountain fields and lush valleys before ending with sweeping views of downtown Blowing Rock.
Looking to get off your feet? Moses Cone horseback riding is a great way to explore additional carriage trails that take you to and from Bass Lake and trace the circumference of the water’s edge.
Follow Flat Top Road until you reach the old Cone family cemetery, where Moses Cone is buried, to put your footsteps in perspective. Please be respectful of this space and all others on the property.
You won’t have to travel far to get to some prime fishing at Bass Lake, the centerpiece of Moses Cone Park.
Make sure you pack your NC fishing license when you head to the park, as the Cone family and park rangers have kept the artificial bass lake well-stocked for angling.
The lake sits at the end of scenic carriage roads and is surrounded by Moses’ original apple orchards for a day on the water with an epic view.
Leave No Trace Reminder
Before you visit Moses Cone Memorial Park, we want to remind you to Leave No Trace. Help keep North Carolina beautiful by packing out everything you bring with you.
Food waste, plastic bottles, trash, shoes- everything. In fact, bring a baggie to pick up after someone who was less considerate than you.
Ready to Visit Moses H. Cone Memorial Park?
Moses Cone Memorial Park’s proximity to several mountain towns and well-renowned peaks (see below) makes it easy to slot into any more significant itineraries. Stop by the historic house on your way off the mountain and end your day outside with a bit of history.
We hope you’re as excited to visit this NC bucket list-worthy place as we are to return.
Have you ever visited Moses Cone Memorial Park? If so, we’d love to read your thoughts about it. Leave a comment below or send us an email.
You can spend the day unwinding and meandering through the sprawling estate, but there’s always more to squeeze in during a trip to the Blue Ridge mountains. Plenty of quaint small towns and sweeping vistas await nearby to make the most out of a long weekend or a free weekday.
Blue Ridge Parkway Stops Nearby
Posted up on MIlepost 294, Moses Cone Memorial Park is only three miles away from great camping at Julian Price Park (MP 297), and countless epic Blue Ridge Parkway hikes and attractions are within an easy drive.
Here are a few more Blue Ridge Parkway stops within 30 minutes of Moses Cone Memorial Park:
- Rough Ridge Trail (MP 302.8): Rough Ridge Trail is waiting a few miles north, and stunning sunsets over the Thunder Hill Overlook are well in reach if you’re heading south.
- Linn Cove Viaduct (MP 304.4): Keep driving north and you’ll cross over Linn Cove Viaduct. You can pull over, get out of your car, and look at this immaculate bridge that essentially completed the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Beacon Heights Overlook Trail (MP 305.2): Beacon Heights is a nice and short trail that leads to sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trail intersects with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that runs from Clingmans Dome Observation Tower in Western NC to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks.
30 minutes away from Moses Cone Memorial Park
As one of North Carolina’s beacons of biodiversity, you’re bound to come across unique wildlife any time of the year at Grandfather Mountain. Springtime brings epic flower blooms, fall showcases hawk migrations and wild forest colors, and Winter brings action sports to town.
At the peak of it all is an almost 250-foot suspension bridge that will shake your knees as you (carefully) cross between an epic rock chasm.
There is a North Carolina State Parks-managed portion of Grandfather Mountain, about 25 minutes away from Moses Cone Memorial Park. Here, you’ll find the Profile Trail, the Grandfather Trail, and more of the state’s toughest yet most rewarding hikes.
You’ll find special events and deals on any weekend of the year, and it’s the perfect place to stop and shop if you forget to pack the windbreaker!
Fine dining, hot coffee, and a hospitable Appalachian charm are on every corner. Pamper yourself at Chetola Resort, the historic Green Park Inn, or find a charming mountain Airbnb to personalize your stay.
20 minutes away from Moses Cone Memorial Park
The population of Boone more than doubles when Appalachian State University begins a new semester. Students flock from all over to attend the open-air campus and impress their distinct tastes upon downtown.
You’ll find some of the best nightlife in the Blue Ridge Mountains with delicious food and unique bars surrounding a lively brick-wooded campus. The university invested in one of the U.S.A’s first beer brewing majors, resulting in a thriving craft beer scene.
35 minutes away from Moses Cone Memorial Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park is technically in Banner Elk but the town itself deserves its own spotlight.
Grandfather Vineyard and Banner Elk Winery are two excellent spots to taste delicious wine and take some home with you. Of course, while you’re in Banner Elk, don’t miss out on Apple Hill Farm, an ethical and working alpaca farm!
Over in Sugar Mountain, the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a newer attraction nearby, sure to provide you with a year-round thrill!
More Things to Do Near Moses Cone Memorial Park
We’ve included Moses Cone Memorial Park and these nearby places in our series of High Country North Carolina Travel Guides.