800-334-9036 / info@visitncsmokies.com
Feb 17 2017

Come soar With Us: Kick Start Spring Motorcycle Season in the NC Smokies

Spring is stirring early in the mountains, so pack your saddle bags and head to the NC Smokies of Haywood County for the finest riding in the Southeast. From hair-raising mountain curves to mellow country roads, your quest for motorcycle utopia is over.

Looking for waterfalls? We got it. Mountain scenery? Check. Countryside? Got that, too.

But most of all, we’ve got the curves. Broad sweeping curves, tight hairpin curves, gentle serpentine curves,  cliff-hugging switch-backs — we’ve got hundreds, maybe thousand of ‘em, with routes to suit every skill level.

Motorcycle touring is all about the open road. The sense of adventure for what’s around the next curve, the rush of mountain ridges unfurling as you climb higher, the feeling of freedom as you ride the swells and dips of the Appalachian countryside.

To help you map out your ideal two-wheeled escape, the travel team at Visit NC Smokies compiled a “best-of” selection of  mountain rides with a home base of Haywood County.

We’ve highlighted a dozen routes that run the gamut, from lazy afternoon excursions to all-day journeys to the back-of-beyond. While every biker knows the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway — which we proudly claim as our own backyard — broaden your horizons with our own custom creation The Copperhead Loop, or the infamous Rattler with 290 curves in 24 miles.

There’s another big reason Haywood County has racked up accolades as the ultimate motorcycle destination: its friendly people. Bikers value the human experience. It’s more than just a ride, it’s about the people you meet along the way, from other bikers to diner waitresses to roadside produce peddlers.

To experience our friendly local flavor, stop in to a rural country store during your ride, like Ferguson’s General Store in Fines Creek, Sorrells General Store in Jonathan Creek, Bethel Grocery or Harley Creek General Store in Cruso.

A must of every biker’s bucket list, Wheels Through Time all-American motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley saw visitors from all 50 states and more than 50 countries last year. True to its moniker of “the museum that runs,” the rare collection of more than 300 vintage and antique motorcycles have been restored to working condition, garnering national attention. Open April – November.

So suit up and kick-start your spring riding season with a motorcycle adventure of your own making in the NC Smokies of Haywood County.

Feb 07 2017

Find a Cure for Cabin Fever in the North Carolina Smokies

The final stretch of winter can seem endless. The novelty of our new Christmas gadgets has worn off and the daylight hours are still stubbornly short. So what now?

You need a winter pick-me-up, and we’ve got the solution here in the North Carolina Smokies of Haywood County.

Go antiquing and hit an auction, explore back roads on a quest for quilt block sightings on the Haywood County Quilt Trail or recharge your whole family with action geared for kids.

If you’re up for outdoor adventure, peruse our Seven Wonders of Winter Hiking for trail suggestions, or browse our sample itineraries. Cap it off with the star-studded restaurants and vibrant night life scene that the NC Smokies are famous for.

Let’s go antiquing

Antiquing is the ultimate shopping treasure hunt for creative spirits and nostalgic souls. Haywood County in the NC Smokies is an antiquer’s paradise, packed with hidden heirlooms and just-right gems waiting to be discovered.

From 19th century fineries to vintage 1950s kitsch, the vast network of antique shops in Haywood County have it all. Whether you’re on the prowl for Appalachian farm relics, eclectic place settings, an antique night table or ornate mantel clock, chances are you’ll find it tucked away in the shops and stalls of our renown antique dealers.

Antiquing is a true adventure: you never know what you’ll find. The only limit is your own imagination.

That old farm basket? A perfect mail holder. The apple crate? A mudroom shelf for yard shoes. And the shabby-chic window sashes? Repurpose them as picture frames for the beautiful scenic shots you captured during your winter getaway to the mountains!

A dozen antique stores are scattered across Waynesville and Maggie Valley, which has two of the top-rated antique destinations in the mountains.

For a true antiquing experience, don’t miss the Saturday night auction at Thad Woods Auction in Waynesville. The father-and-son team Thad and Stacy Woods, who’s been featured on History Channel’s Picked Off, are experts in Appalachian antiques. The auctions are great fun to watch with a jovial, family-friendly atmosphere. Thad Woods holds auctions every Friday night as well, featuring new merchandise, from power tools to furniture, at deeply discounted overstock prices.

We’ve rounded up some of the top antique hot spots for your next antiquing getaway to the NC Smokies of Haywood County:

  • Chris and Friends Antiques and Uniques in Maggie Valley has a little bit of everything from old pipes to crockery, including an impressive selection of vintage and antique signage.
  • Sutton and Sons in Maggie Valley boasts primitive and eclectic antique furniture, toys, memorabilia and random surprises from every era.
  • Country Store Antiques in Maggie Valley.
  • Attic Treasures in Maggie Valley features a mall set-up with everything from furniture to knick-knacks and decor.Balsam Antique Mall in Waynesville houses dozens of booths and stalls from a wide-variety of vendors, from antique books and postcards to old tools.
  • Antique Antics in Waynesville has everything from antique tools and gas station memorabilia to vintage quilts and jewelry.
  • A Cat In The Attic Treasures & Treats Antiques Towne Square in Waynesville has a large selection of collectibles, including glass and silver, tea sets and cookware.
  • Frogpond Estate Sales in Waynesville has an assortment of furniture and housewares.
  • Depot Village in Waynesville is an antique mall set-up with booths for vendors, from furniture and lamps to old paintings and vases.
  • Dovetail Antique Services in Waynesville handles antique restoration and repairs, with limited inventory for sale.

Road trippin’ with a mission

Culture, art, heritage, scenery, adventure, discovery, photography — the Haywood County Quilt Block Trail is the perfect mountain experience that appeals to everyone. Even better, it can be enjoyed any time of year.

With four dozen quilt blocks scattered across Haywood County, the quilt trail is the perfect excuse to explore our small towns and backroads — whether you’re exploring on foot in downtown Waynesville or road trippin’ through the rural countryside.

The artistic quilt blocks are professionally designed, each with a custom theme that reflects our cultural heritage and sense of place here in the NC Smokies.

The “Moon over Cold Mountain” in Cruso pays homage to the mountain’s natural beauty and the four seasons, while the Boone Orchard Apple House quilt block is reminiscent of a 1920s apple orchard storehouse.

Some quilt blocks recount local legends, like the “Dead Man in the Creek” quilt block that tells the story of how Fines Creek got its name following a skirmish with Cherokee in 1783. Others capture the region’s heritage like the “Conversations” quilt block in Clyde that depicts a perking pot of coffee, symbolic of the men who gathered around the pot-belly stove at Finchers general store in 1926 and decided to start a savings and loan company to help lift their mountain neighbors out of poverty.

Turn your quilt trail adventure into a photo safari by collecting a photo of each one you find.

Stop into the North Carolina Smokies visitor center in Maggie Valley to pick up a brochure of the quilt trail and your own souvenir quilt block magnet.

Families that play together, stay together

We’re not the only ones who get weary of winter. The long, endless slog of school weeks between Christmas to Easter can take its toll on kids, too.

Lift their spirits and yours with a mid-winter break in the mountains. They’ll experience the ultimate rush — and you’ll capture the photos to prove it — with a snow tubing session at Tube World in Maggie Valley.

Keep the action rolling with skating and indoor games at Smoky Mountain Sk8 Way, or bounce away the winter blues on the giant inflatables at Smoky Mountain Jump House. Make sure to pack bathing suits for a dip in Waynesville Recreation Park’s  state-of-the-art indoor pool — complete with a two-story water slide, interactive splash zone and graduated entry for little ones.

The award-winning Haywood Arts Regional Theater has a packed line-up of shows geared just for kids between now and April 1, including Schoolhouse Rock, Charlotte’s Web, the Ugly Duckling and Great Expectations.

So pack your kids’ favorite board games, leave the electronics behind and hit the NC Smokies for a fun and easy family getaway.

Feb 01 2017

Three Smokin’ Hot Getaways for Valentine’s in the Smokies

Romance is in the air in the North Carolina Smokies of Haywood County, and we’ve got three perfect recipes to help you pull off an unforgettable Valentine’s getaway.

Escape to the mountains for a breathtaking couple’s ski trip, wine-and-dine your date with a spa and theater retreat, or cap off a day of outdoor adventure with our vibrant craft beer and music scene.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic mountain cabin or romantic bed and breakfast, sweep your sweetheart off their feet with a tailor-made Valentine’s trip to the mountains of Haywood County.

 

Mountain fever

Skiing is the ultimate couples’ bonding experience. Taking on the slopes with a partner brings out the best parts of a relationship: the exhilaration of adventure, the joy of a shared laugh and the sense of trust when you need someone to lean on.

Whether you’re a pro at sailing down the slopes or just learning to buckle your boots, Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley boasts more than a dozen runs for every skill level. Hone your style at the Cat Cage Terrain Park for snowboarders, test your limits with the high-elevation runs or find your groove on the gentler slopes.

Never been skiing? No problem. Cataloochee Ski Area has learn-to-ski and learn-to-snowboard packages that will get you up to speed in no time. The excitement of a new challenge will create a lifetime of memories.

Between runs, the awe-inspiring views from the chairlift will make your heart and adrenaline soar. With the mountains as your backdrop, the ride up the slopes is a perfect chance to snuggle closer and steal a kiss. When you’re ready for a break, enjoy a steaming cup of Joe or frosty brew while overlooking the slopes from Cataloochee’s bar and lounge area.

As a destination, Maggie Valley has what it takes to make Valentine’s a success, from fine dining to lively bars — and, of course, great breakfast spots.

Maggie Valley boasts a plethora of lodging options of every style and for every budget, from creekside rooms to mountain cabins. It’s the right time of year to cuddle up by the fire or relax in a hot tub while the song of the mountains serenades you.

Spa, wine and theater: a Valentine’s trifecta

Soak up the romance of the Smokies with a spa, wine and theater getaway in the North Carolina mountains of Haywood County.

The Balsam Spa, a luxury day spa in Waynesville, offers a full suite of relaxing spa treatments, from massage therapy to facials and mani/pedis. Try the special Love Bird package for side-by-side hour-long massages capped off by a reflexology session.

Located on the grounds of the idyllic Waynesville Inn Golf Resort and Spa, you can wile the day away in a rocking chair with stunning mountain views or linger by the fireplace in the resort’s cozy lounge.

After the sun sets, take your date to The Classic Wineseller, a wine bar in downtown Waynesville with more than 1,100 selections to chose from, including champagnes, ports, sherries and dessert wines.

Music is always on tap Friday and Saturday evenings at The Wineseller, serving up mellow pop-and-jazz selections from a rotating line-up of guitar and piano musicians.

Complete your wine circuit with a visit to Bosu’s Wine Shop, just a few blocks away in downtown Waynesville, where you can partake in the Valentine’s Five-for-$5 wine tasting the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 11.

Set the stage for your Valentine with top-notch theater at the Haywood Arts Regional Theater. The Tony-award winning production God of Carnage is playing Friday and Saturday nights the weekend of Feb. 11 and 18.

Make the memories of your Smokies spa retreat last once you’re home by picking up signature, hand-crafted soaps from Haywood County’s two soap companies.

Verbena Soap Company in downtown Canton has 200 fragrances in its lineup of custom soaps, shampoos, lotions, bath oils and more, crafted from natural ingredients like carrot seed oil and avocado.

Hazelwood Soap Company in the eclectic Hazelwood shopping district of Waynesville is a renown purveyor of artisanal bath and body products, from Dead Sea bath salts to their specialty bar scents like Lemongrass Sage and Ginger Orange.

Match made in heaven

Outdoor adventure more your style? Check out The Seven Wonders of Winter Hiking for a smorgasbord of trails that still shine in winter months.

When you’re ready to unlace those hiking boots, the stand-out craft beer and local music scene in Haywood County makes a perfect pairing for your Valentine’s weekend.

Indulge your love affair for craft beer with three top-notch microbreweries, all within easy walking distance in historic downtown Waynesville. Savor a Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout at Boojum Brewing Company, toss back a Salamander Slam IPA at Frog Level Brewery or sample a Mayor Brown Ale at Tipping Point Tavern, a seasonal brew named for Waynesville’s favorite mayor.

Between pints, catch a show at The Strand at 38 Main,  downtown Waynesville’s boutique movie house and music venue.  Check their vintage marquee on Main Street for the weekly line-up.

Get cultured with a genre-bending show by the eclectic string band Harpeth Rising — an energetic fusion of folk, bluegrass and classical chamber music. The lyrical acoustic trio is playing The Strand on February 17.

Or create a couple’s keepsake that’s truly your own during Brush n’ Brew night at Frog Level Brewery on February 11. Grab a pint and a paint brush and make matching masterpieces with supplies and instruction provided. Stick around for music by Chris Minick, Waynesville’s troubadour-in-residence. His singer-songwriter flair with crowd-pleasing covers is the perfect backdrop for your date night on the town. The Tacoed Wheel food truck will also be on-site for the night, rounding out the hipster vibe in the revitalized Frog Level warehouse district with a spot on the National Historic Register.

Jan 27 2017

The Seven Wonders of Winter Hiking

There’s no reason to put outdoor adventure on pause in the winter.

Here’s seven good reasons why we love winter hiking, and seven trails to try in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains of Haywood County.

As always, make sure you’re prepared before you hit the trail. Check out our companion article — Know Before You Go: Seven Winter Hiking Tips — for strategies to pull off your outdoor winter adventure without a hitch.

Winter is no reason to stay inside, so go on and hit the trail!

  1. The sound of silence

A hush falls over the woods in winter. But the quiet unlocks a secret world that you miss out on during summer hiking. Without leaves on the trees, sound travels further and is more acute: the beat of a bird’s wings as it lifts from a branch or the scuttle of a squirrel nosing about for its acorn stash.

A hike to Mount Sterling in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a perfect place to experience the sound of silence. This is one of the more strenuous hikes on our list, so read on if a leisurely jaunt is more your style.

The Mount Sterling Trail is a steady uphill climb, gaining nearly 2,000 feet. It’s a six-mile round trip — three miles up and three miles back down — through an inviting woodscape.

P.S. If you go the distance, you’ll be rewarded with 60-foot fire tower at the top with panoramic views!

Directions: Take I-40 west toward Tennessee. Just after crossing the state line, take Exit 451. Go under the highway, cross the river and turn left. Go 2.3 miles and turn left again. Reset your odometer counter, and go another 6.7 miles to the trailhead on the right.Hiking Trail

  1. Crisp, clear skies

Visibility is stellar in winter, a perk of cooler temperatures and lower humidity that make for long-range views. The winter horizon is a endless sea of peaks and ridges, with views of up to 100 miles in just-right conditions.

Take a hike to Max Patch in the Pisgah National Forest to soak up the views of winter hiking. At an elevation of 4,629 feet, the grassy, open balds of Max Patch boast a panoramic view. You can chose from a 1.5-mile loop trail or a 2.5-mile loop trail.

Directions: Take I-40 west toward Tennessee. Get off at Exit 7 for Harmon Den and turn right on Cold Springs Road. Go six miles and dead-end into Max Patch Road. Turn left and go another 1.5 miles to the parking area.

  1. A breath of fresh air

Getting outside in winter doesn’t have to be a major expedition. A leisurely stroll through nature is sometimes all we need to recharge and re-energize after too much time cooped up indoors.

If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy escape from the winter doldrums, take a walk through the Corneille Bryan Native Garden at Lake Junaluska Assembly. This is a delightful half-mile loop trail meant to enjoy slowly. Wander through the meandering paths with resting places and babbling brooks. Please be respectful of the private community and don’t leave the path. There are 500 species of native plants here waiting to come back to life in spring.

Directions: On the grounds of Lake Junaluska, turn onto Stuart Circle. The pleasant trail begins where the road dead-ends.

  1. Unfettered views

More peaks over 6,000 feet than anywhere else in the eastern US: that’s Haywood County’s claim to fame, one the locals are quick to brag about. But not every high-elevation hiking trail reveals its views.

Most trails are enclosed by lush forests —  at least in summer. With the leaves out of the picture in winter, the views open up, making it the perfect time of year to hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The trail follows a ridge with relatively few ups and downs as far as mountain hiking goes — with views in both directions thanks to no leaves.

You can make this trail however long or short you want by simply turning around at your designated half-way time. There’s a short uphill at the beginning, but the trail levels off quickly once you reach the ridge, with gentle undulations from there on out.

Directions: From Maggie Valley, head north on U.S. 276. Just before reaching I-40, turn left on Cove Creek Road and follow signs toward Cataloochee. As soon as you reach the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — a spot known as Cove Creek Gap, the high point before you start your descent into Cataloochee Valley — there’s a small parking area on the side of the road, and the trail takes off to the left.

  1. A new perspective

Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. But winter hiking opens up a whole new world that you don’t see in the other seasons. With no understory covering the forest floor, you can see much further through the woods, making it easier to spot wildlife or marvel over a moss covered boulder you would miss during lusher times of year. Pay attention to unique and striking tree shapes, which are usually hidden by leaves, or even try your hand at tree identification by studying the bark.

A great winter hike for forest observations is the Mountains-to-Sea trail through the primeval forests of the Middle Prong Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest.

The trail sits at an elevation of over 5,000 feet in a very remote and rugged area, so only experienced hikers should try this one. It isn’t marked with trail signs, but it’s not hard to follow. Fun fact: this is the home territory of the rare Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel.

Directions: From Bethel, go south on N.C. 215. After passing the gorgeous views of Lake Logan. From here, its another 11 miles to a parking area on the right side of the road where the trail begins. The road will get twisty and steep as you reach the top. If you come to the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ve gone a half-mile too far.

  1. A slice of solitude

Haywood County has plenty of room to roam in all seasons, but winter hiking is a chance to claim even the most popular of spots all to yourself. The fabled Cataloochee Valley, home to the Smoky Mountain elk herd and rich pioneer history, draws visitors by the thousands in summer. But the crowds melt away come winter, leaving this idyllic slice of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park yours to enjoy.

There are lots of trails in Cataloochee Valley, but a good one for winter is the Rough Fork Trail. The wide, pleasant trail through the woods is relatively flat and easy for the first two miles.

You can make the trail however short or long you want, just turn back where you please. At the one-mile mark, you’ll come to the historic Woody House, built 150 years ago by early settlers of the valley. It makes a great lunch spot.

Directions: From Maggie Valley, head north on U.S. 276. Just before reaching I-40, turn left on Cove Creek Road and follow signs into Cataloochee Valley. Once you reach the valley floor, take the road all the way to the far end of the valley. The Rough Fork trailhead begins where the road ends.

  1. The Parkway on foot

High-elevation sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed on-and-off during winter when there’s lingering snow and ice. Even a patch or two of residual ice can lead to closures, but that’s great news if you’re looking for an easily accessible winter hike.

Walking on the Parkway when it’s closed to traffic is a great way to get outdoors and explore in the wintertime without venturing deep in the woods. You’ll discover how many wonderful things you miss when driving the Parkway. Kids can bring their bikes, too, since you’ll be on pavement.

Before you go, check the Blue Ridge Parkway web page for a real-time map of road closures, or call the Haywood County Visitor Center for an up-to-date report.

A great place to walk on the Parkway is around Wagon Road Gap (milepost 412.) It’s a flat section of the Parkway, with open views in both directions.

Directions: From downtown Waynesville, head south on U.S. 276 for 21 miles, passing through the communities of Bethel and Cruso. After climbing up a section of steep twists and turns, you’ll pass under the Parkway. This is your queue. Turn the Parkway entrance road and park along the side of the road. Don’t block the gate though, as maintenance vehicles still need to get through.

And perhaps the best part of a winter hike? Afterwards you can treat yourself guilt-free to hearty meal at the amazing restaurants Haywood County serves up, whether it’s a savory plate of ribs at Haywood Smokehouse in Waynesville, a juicy bison burger at Juke Box Junction in Canton or a steaming dish of lasagna at Frankie’s Trattoria in Maggie Valley. Cap off the evening with a night on the town, or pour a mug of hot cocoa and kick your feet up. You’ve earned it!

Jan 27 2017

Know before you go: Seven Winter Hiking Tips

The outdoors is yours for the taking in Haywood County, even in winter.

But it’s wise to be extra vigilant when hiking in colder conditions. Read on for seven winter hiking tips that will keep you safe during your outdoor winter adventure.

Once you feel prepared to hit the woods, don’t miss The Seven Wonders of Winter Hiking for the inside track on the best winter hikes in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains of Haywood County.

  1. Tell someone exactly where you plan to go, and make sure they’ll call for help if you don’t come back by a designated time. Even on warm winter days, nights in the mountains usually dip below freezing — sometimes far below freezing — and you don’t want to get stuck outside overnight.
  2. Watch for icy spots on trails, especially around foot bridges. Like black ice on roads, a dark spot on a rock may look like it’s just wet , but it could actually be a thin film of ice. Stay away from rocks along creeks and waterfalls, the most dangerous hiking hazard anytime of year. Even if there’s no snow on the ground, the spray coming off the water can freeze and lead to slick spots.
  3. If fresh snow is in the cards, be aware that it can obscure the trail. When the woods are covered in white, everything looks the same, and it’s possible to get off course and lose the trail without realizing it.
  4. Allow plenty of time to get back to your car by dark. The sun sets early in the winter — maybe even earlier than you think. If the sun drops behind a mountain, dusk can come suddenly. And depending on where you’re visiting from, sunset in Haywood County could be earlier than you’re used to back home.
  5. As a safety precaution, pick up an emergency thermal blanket for your backpack. They’re super small, light-weight and inexpensive, but can be a lifesaver — literally — if you hit a snag and need to stay warm and dry while waiting for help. Also pack a lighter, but unless you’re adept at building a fire from sticks and branches, a pack of fire starters will help it catch. Stop in to Mast General Store in downtown Waynesville and Carolina Readiness Supply to pick up these supplies.
  6. A map is a good idea, but it won’t help if you don’t know how to read it. The same goes for a compass. It’s only helpful if you know how to use it. If you’re new to hiking and haven’t used a trail map before, pick one of our easier trails to try your first time out.
  7. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, since cold zaps the battery. It’s critical to switch your phone to airplane mode or turn it off when not in use. As you pass through zones with spotty service, your phone will constantly be searching for a signal, quickly draining the battery. If you have to make an emergency call but can’t get a signal, go up. You’re more likely to get service on higher ground. Stay on the trail if you can though — it makes it easier for search crews to find you.

 

Dec 12 2016

Celebrate New Year’s weekend in the Smokies!

Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve? You do now! Visit the North Carolina Smoky Mountains in Haywood County to ring in 2017. There is something for everyone to enjoy from family-friendly fun to partying the night away with friends. Check us out! Note: space fills up quickly, reservations are recommended.laurel ridge

Laurel Ridge Country Club  New Years Extravaganza  Enjoy an evening of dancing and dining, highlighted by a champagne toast at midnight. Chef’s menu begins with shrimp cocktail, oysters Rockefeller, brie with brown sugar & bourbon and vegetable crudite. The scrumptious buffet features carved beef tenderloin, crab-stuffed Norwegian salmon, roasted fingerling potatoes, cous cous pilaf, cumin carrots, asparagus, NY Cheesecake & lavender crème brûlée . Continental Divide has entertained the Southeast for 30 years, and they will keep the dance floor full playing your favorite songs from the decades until after midnight. The cost for dinner, entertainment and midnight champagne toast is $68+. Make reservations by calling (828) 452-0545.

 

Classic Wineseller’s New Year’s Eve GalaClassicWineseller-copy.jpg  New Year’s Eve festivities start at 7:15 pm.  Enjoy the smooth jazz vocals of Peggy Ratusz accompanied by the piano groove of Richard Shulman while enjoying a four course dinner complete with a New Years’s toast. The price is just $70 per person plus tax & gratuity. Make reservations by calling (828) 452-6000 or emailing info@classicwineseller.com.

 

the rendezvousMaggie Valley Inn NYE Couples Getaway   NYE Package includes room for 2, heavy appetizers from 9-11 pm, midnight champagne, party favors, dancing with the band Stone Crazy and a midnight breakfast buffet.  NYE package price is $139 plus tax per couple. Not ready to end the celebration? Stay for the New Year’s Day Brunch from 10 am to 3 pm for just $11.95  per person.  For reservations call (866) 926-0201.

Looking for something to do on New Year’s Day? Here is a guide to winter hiking for all levels. If you haven’t experienced winter in the Smokies, you are missing out!

         

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spend NYE on the slopes at Cataloochee Ski Areasnowboarder                         Holiday season begins at Cataloochee!
Holiday rates apply every day during the holidays from December 19, 2016 through January 1, 2017. Enjoy night skiing under the stars every night (except Christmas Eve) – even on New Year’s Eve!! For pricing and hours call (828)926-0285 or  ski@cataloochee.com.

 

nye skateSkate into the 2017 at Smoky Mountain Sk8way and Fun Zone! Looking for a fun, family-friendly way to spend New Years Eve? Spend the night roller skating to the hottest tunes, play video games, conquer the obstacle course, test the climbing wall and more!  Enjoy soda, pizza, pretzels and an array of snacks. Open from 6 pm to 1 am. For more family-friendly fun ideas, here are other things to experience while in Haywood County!

 

boojum brewEnjoy New Year’s like a Haywood local!  Our breweries and local hang out spots will be hoppin’ (get it, “hop”pin) with NYE fun throughout the county. Start 2017 off with locally brewed craft beers, incredible food, bowling, games, live music and fun! Check out their websites for more details on the fun to be had on New Year’s Eve.

Don’t want to drive home?  Stay at one of our local hotels, motels, resorts, cabins, or B&B’s and make it a weekend getaway!  Have a safe and happy 2017! We hope you come visit us again in the NC Smokies!

Dec 01 2016

The Twelve Faves of Christmas

Planning to head to the NC Smokies this holiday season?  If not, you may want to reconsider. Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway from the holiday craziness of the city or a chance to spend a cozy Christmas vacation with the family in the mountains, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season. Some you may already have on your radar and others you may have never thought of. But either way, we invite you come check out our Twelve Faves of Christmas right here in Haywood County.

1.) Choose N’ Cut the Perfect Christmas Tree – With five locally owned and operated farms to choose from, you’re sure to find an amazing NC grown Fraser Fir tree to make your home (or vacation rental) merry and bright. To learn more read our blog about finding the perfect tree.

2.) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – December 10, 11, 17, and 18 – HART Theater – In this hilarious Christmas classic, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids–probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem – and the fun – when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on!

3.) Ski or Snowboard at Cataloochee Ski Area – No holiday trip to Haywood County would be complete without a trip to Cataloochee Ski Area. Whether you’re honing in on your expert downhill skills or trying it for the very first time, Cataloochee has plenty of slopes (and lessons) to enjoy an awesome day on the mountains. Warm up in their cozy lodge with a hot beverage or frosty brew. You can also check out Tube World for a fun slip n’ sliding experience.

4.) Shop Local For One of a Kind Holiday Gifts – We can’t even begin to tell you how many amazing locally owned and operated retail businesses call Haywood County home. It doesn’t matter how picky your loved ones may be, we guarantee you’ll find them the perfect one of a kind gift.

5.) Pour Yourself a Winter Warmer – With four craft microbreweries in Haywood County, there is no better way to relax after a long day on the slopes or holiday shopping than with a couple local craft brews. Check out their latest winter seasonals and literally enjoy a cup of cheer! If craft beer isn’t your thing, check out our local wine shops for a wide selection of vinos from local to worldly.

6.) Winter Hiking – After all those craft beers and big holiday meals, a brisk walk in the woods may be just the ticket.  Haywood County has plenty of great hiking trails that can be accessed all year long, like Purchase Knob, Sam’s Summit Loop Trail, or any of the trails in Cataloochee Valley (weather permitting). Grab your boots, backpack, some warm clothes and get out there to enjoy the amazing long range views and serene settings that can only be found in the winter.

Photo below – The Mountaineer

7.) Christmas Parades – [This event has passed. Check back next year!] Our parades are one of the signature events of the holiday season and a timeless small town tradition.  Bring a thermos of hot chocolate, a few chairs and line up along the historic downtown Main Street districts to enjoy an evening of festive fun. You’ll find two to enjoy:

 8.) Balsam Range Art of Music Festival – December 2 -3 [This event has passed. Check back next year!] – Haywood County’s favorite boys of bluegrass, Balsam Range, are giving you the gift of music this holiday season. Their first annual Art of Music Festival will take place at Lake Junaluska December 2 – 3.  It’s an opportunity to take a break from the holiday hustle and tap your toe to incredible music by some of the best bluegrass talent in the industry.

9.) Christmas Worship in a Stable – December 3rd @ 5:30 PM in Canton [This event has passed. Check back next year!] – It doesn’t more authentic than enjoying the Christmas story from inside an historical barn with Mary, Joseph, the donkey and Shepherds present. Sit on hay bales and sing carols, hear Christmas scripture and a related story while enjoying festive music. Great for the entire family!

10.) Appalachian Christmas at Lake Junaluska – December 9 – 11 at Lake Junaluska [This event has passed. Check back next year!] – Let the nostalgic charm of Appalachian hospitality warm you this Christmas holiday season. Awaken the spirit of Christmas through festive live music, hearty meals and local artistry.

11.) A Night Before Christmas – December 10 – Downtown Waynesville – 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM [This event has passed. Check back next year!] – An annual holiday tradition held downtown on the second Saturday evening of December. Amidst the backdrop of hundreds of luminaries lining the sidewalks, you will enjoy carolers, live music, visiting Santa, storytelling, and old fashioned wagon rides. Stroll through Bethlehem as First Baptist Church re-creates a live nativity and bustling first century marketplace.

12.) Enjoy a Night on the Town – By day, our small towns are bustling with great shopping, fun activities, and tasty restaurants. But by night they are full of exciting happenings! Whether it’s live music, movies, or just socializing with the locals, Haywood County is home to plenty hot spots to warm up at on cold winter night.

Now all you need is a place to stay! You’ll find a wide range of accommodations like hotels and motels in the heart of the action, charming B&Bs, cozy cabins, scenic vacation homes perched high on a mountain, and much more.  Check out all the Haywood County lodging here. We look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful NC Smoky Mountains this holiday season!

If you’re a fan of Christmas in the Smokies, you’re probably interested in a Smoky Mountain New Year’s! Check out our blog on fun ideas to ring in 2017 in the NC Smokies.

Nov 23 2016

Choose N’ Cut the Perfect Christmas Tree

The holidays are officially here and it is time to festively deck the halls.  First and foremost, the most important task at hand is finding the PERFECT Christmas tree. Forget about all those fake trees and stop searching the local lots for a tree that was cut weeks ago.  Make a trip to Haywood County for the real deal: a beautiful, NC grown Fraser Fir Christmas Tree. Not only will you create a timeless tradition like no other, but you can’t beat the site and smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree straight from the heart of the NC Smoky Mountains.

The county is home to five locally owned and operated farms specializing in North Carolina Fraser firs. People come from near and far just to find the perfect tree at one of these farms. Tree-seekers can search the mountainside for the ideal Christmas tree or choose a pre-cut tree of their liking. Prices typically start around $35.00 and increase based on height.  Other holiday necessities can be purchased onsite such as fresh hand-made wreaths and garland.  Some of the farms even provide tasty holiday treats like hot apple cider to keep you warm on your festive search.

Photo below: Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm

Take your pick from these five local trees farms right here in Haywood County

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
446 Boyd Farm Rd., Waynesville NC 28785
828-926-888 or www.boydmountainchristmastreefarm.com

Dutch Cove Christmas Tree Farm
280 Setzer Dr., Canton NC 28716
828-400-0806

Mehaffey Tree Farm
24 Corner Dr., Waynesville NC 28786
828-926-1324 or mehaffeytreefarm.com

Nesbitt Christmas Tree Farm
333 Sunset Ridge Rd., Clyde NC 28721
828-400-2244

WNC Christmas Trees
2436 Jonathan Creek Rd, Waynesville NC 29785
828-926-3224 or wnclandscaping.com

Don’t forget while you’re here to also check out festive line-up of holiday events!

12/1 – Canton Christmas Parade

Downtown Canton 6:30 PM –  Cantonnc.com or 828-235-2760

12/2 – 12/3 – Balsam Range Art of Music Festival 

Lake Junaluska
 – balsamrangeartofmusicfestival.com – 1-800-222-4930

12/2 – Art After Dark 

Downtown Waynesville & Historic Frog Level 6PM – 9PM Stroll the participating galleries Waynesvillegalleryassociation.com

12/3 – Papertown Christmas Craft Fair 

71 Penland Street Canton Armory 9AM-4PM 828-400-5345

12/3 – “Christmas Worship in a Stable” at 3rd Generation Barn Loft

84 Frank Mann Road Canton, NC 5:30 – 6:15PM
 – Free Event “Worship Service in a Barn” 828-648-4094

12/5 – Waynesville Christmas Parade

Downtown Waynesville 6PM Downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517

12/6 – Friends of the Smokies” Classic Hikes Grotto Falls
 

Must Preregister: $20 for members Friendsofthesmokies.org or 800-845-5665

12/9 & 10 – Appalachian Christmas 

Lakeshore Drive,  Lake Junaluska –  Lakejunaluska.com or 828-452-2881

12/10 – Flea Market at the Fairgrounds

758 Crabtree Road Haywood Fairgrounds 7AM – 2PM haywoodcountyfairgrounds.org or 828-400-1704

12/10 – A Night Before Christmas

Downtown Waynesville 6PM – 9PM downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517

12/10 – 12/18 –  “The Best Christmas Ever” at HART Theatre

250 Pigeon Street Waynesville 2pm Main Stage harttheatre.com or call 828-456-6322

Nov 16 2016

Ski or Snowboard – How will you slide into the winter season?

It is almost the most wonderful time of the year and I’m not just talking about the holidays. Opening day for skiing and snowboarding season is just around the corner in Haywood County and we couldn’t be more excited! For those of you who have experienced first hand the pure bliss that comes from traversing a snowy slope on a pair of skis or a snowboard understands exactly what I mean. We wait with bated breath through the heat and humidity of the warm seasons for that first forecast of weather cold enough to produce snow.

Well, that time is almost here.  If colder conditions continue, Haywood County’s own Cataloochee Ski Area is aiming to open the first of its slopes very soon.  So for those of you who have already dusted off your gear, keep those fingers crossed and start doing your snow dance!

As for  those of you who have never experienced the rush of racing down a snow covered mountain – or the simple joy of leisurely “pizza pieing” your way down – the 2016 – 2017 season is a great time to discover this fun sport.  But now for the biggest question of all: To ski or to snowboard?  If you’re a first timer, trying to decide between skiing or snowboarding can be tough.  I can speak from experience as I’ve taken a spin on both and in the end I’ve become a life long skier.  I think back on my childhood and I see now that it should’ve been an easy decision.  Growing up rollerblading was one of my favorite childhood pastimes but the first time I attempted to skateboard I nearly ended up with a broken tail bone (and a bruised ego). I obviously felt more comfortable with my feet strapped into two parallel planks instead of strapped together on a single board.  I’m no expert, but I think asking yourself how you feel about those two scenarios is a good place to start.

Most winter snowsport enthusiasts will say that skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding.  I may have to agree, but there are those that snowboarding comes very naturally to, so I won’t try to persuade you either way.  Some pros and cons include the fact that skiers have the assistance of polls when needed and snowboarders do not. But many say that once mastered, snowboarding is easier on the knees and getting up when you do fall, as opposed to skiing which puts more strain on your knees.  It may also depend on where you will be doing the majority of your skiing or snowboarding. It is said that snowboards are ideal for softer, deeper snow while skiing carves through ice and bumps better.  Again, it is a matter of opinion and most importantly what you feel the most comfortable with.

Skiing in North Carolina

With that said, my suggestions is check them both out!  You will discover very quickly which method you feel most comfortable with.  So now that you’re ready to take a chance on skiing or snowboarding, its time to get you set up with some lessons.  Cataloochee Ski area operates a FANTASTIC snowsports school that will have you up and running those slopes in no time.

The Cataloochee Snowsports School is a member school of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. Cataloochee Ski Area’s PSIA member Snowsports School teaches everything from the basics for novices to newest techniques for experts. They furnish class lessons or private instruction for all levels of skiers and snow boarders. Instructors in their children’s programs are specially selected and trained to provide the best children’s learning experience possible. Their goal is to help you, your family or group to make the most out of your mountain experience.

There are also plenty of upcoming opportunities that will provide the perfect chance to learn one of these awesome snowsports.  January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard” month so what better time to beat those winter blues than with an exciting new challenge! Beginning January 6, 2017 and ONLY available online, Cataloochee offers a special $59 beginning lesson, lift and rental package for persons age 8 and above.  Packages will be available for purchase by clicking here. This is only one of many ways to get you out on the slopes and making the most of the winter snow sports season.

If you’ve thought about, maybe tried it out, and decided that neither skiing nor snowboarding is your winter sport of choice, don’t let that get you down. Cataloochee Ski also offers another snow sport that is the perfect option for you: snow tubing! Located at the base of Fie Top Mountain before you make your drive up to the ski area, Tube World offers multiple tube runs and is the perfect outing for the entire family.

To learn more and plan your trip to Cataloochee Ski area, visit www.cataloochee.com.

Nov 09 2016

Give the Gift of Local

Can you believe the holidays are almost here? It seems like just yesterday we were basking in the sunshine of summer and now another holiday season is upon us.  It’s a very exciting time of the year in Haywood County as our towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde begin to kick off their annual holiday traditions.  Decorating the towns, lighting the community Christmas trees, festive parades, holiday events, and much more are just around the corner and I can not wait!

If you’re like me, there is one yearly tradition I take the utmost pride in – selecting the perfect holiday gifts for my family and friends.  To me, giving gifts during the holidays is not just a yearly obligation – it is a way to individually thank the ones you love for all they do throughout the year and it is an opportunity to put a joyful smile on their face.  I also like putting smiles on the faces of local business owners and one of the ways I do that is by shopping locally. Sure, it’s easiest just to pick up a few gift cards to online retailers, but when possible, I try to support as many local businesses as I can and encourage you to also give the gift of local this holiday season.

Haywood County is home to a wide range of locally owned and operated businesses that offer the perfect selections for your holiday gift giving.  Each of our five towns is home to a variety of unique shops that will appeal to every person on your list.  You’ll find shops catering to outdoor adventure junkies, farm to table foodies, wine lovers and craft beer connoisseurs, fashionistas, avid art collectors, inquisitive children, four-legged family members, and much more.  To take a gander at these amazing shops and boutiques head over to our Smoky Mountain Shopping page. Will it be a new pair of hiking boots from Mast General Store, vintage comics or toys for the kids from the Not So Old Toys and Comics, a few growlers from our four microbreweries, an original print from TPennington Art Gallery, handmade doggie treats from the Smoky Mountain Dog Bakery, sugar scrub from Hazelwood Soap Company, a selection of culinary treats from Sunburst Market,  a unique piece of jewelry from Seven Silver Seas, or another great selection from one of our many local retailers? And since these are all locally owned you’ll not only be giving a one of kind gift that you won’t find at a big box store, you’re supporting one of our hard working merchants and their families.

The gift of local doesn’t just stop at our fantastic retail shops.  Give the gift of an experience! Give your husband a fly-fishing trip on the Pigeon River guided by Hunter Banks or make your teenager’s day with snowboarding lessons at Cataloochee Ski Area.  How about a gift certificate to dine at one of Haywood County’s many independent restaurants or a relaxing weekend getaway? Maybe even tickets to see Haywood County’s own award-winning bluegrass band, Balsam Range (accompanied by a copy of their new album “Mountain Voodoo”) or an eco-tour with Cataloochee Valley Tours to learn more about our wild elk population.  There are so many one of kind experiences available in Haywood County that the hardest part may be deciding which ones to give and which ones to enjoy for yourself!

Many people are also giving the gift of charity in honor of a friend or family member and we’ve definitely got ways to do that.  Help out with the continued preservation and conservation of our two national parks – the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – with a donation to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation or the Friends of the Smokies.  There are also tons of local Haywood County based non-profits that would gratefully accept your donation on someone’s behalf like the Haywood Waterways Association, Friends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter, and The Community Kitchen, just to name a few.

Regardless of how your spend your money this holiday season, we hope you’ll consider giving the gift of local from right here in Haywood County.  Don’t forget our Visitor Center in Maggie Valley is chocked full of awesome Haywood County related gifts like plush animals for the kids, fun tees, local books, and much more. If you’re a Haywood County Quilt Trail enthusiast, you can even purchase a cat or dog designed block with proceeds going to towards to construction of the new Haywood County Animal Shelter!

Or you can just treat yourself with the gift of a visit to our beautiful mountains.  We’re pretty sure that’s one gift you won’t be returning to the store.

If you like this story, also check out the Smoky Mountain Shopping page and start planning your holiday shopping in Haywood County!

Nov 03 2016

Guest Blog: A Week in Haywood County

A Week in Haywood County

Discover 5 charming Haywood County towns in 5 days with this itinerary from Expedia.com

By: Kohleun Adamson

As the autumn air and golden leaves turn crisper each day, we at Expedia.com are aching to bundle up and explore the Smokies in their fall colors and taste the latest harvest from local breweries and restaurants. With historic sites, craft breweries, beautiful scenery and enchanting hotels scattered throughout Haywood County, there’s only one obstacle between you and a fabulous getaway: planning your trip from an embarrassment of riches. From guests’ favorite hotels to the venues and excursions everyone keeps talking about, we’ve put together an itinerary that you’re more than welcome to steal away with…

Monday: Eat to your heart’s content in Waynesville

Stay here: The Yellow House on Plott Creek Road B&B

Sitting atop a hill with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this idyllic bed and breakfast is the perfect place to kick off your vacation. Waynesville is Haywood County’s largest city, and it has the dining options to prove it. When you aren’t toasting to another gorgeous day, hide away in this B&B’s quiet gardens and snuggle up in a unique suite. We are totally smitten with the antique furnishings. Plan to stay here for a few nights as you visit some of the county’s smaller gems.

Skip setting your alarm and start the day with a delicious home-cooked meal at the B&B, then plan your day around the rest of the three square meals. Waynesville eateries specialize in farm-to-table fare, and your first stop has got to be Frog’s Leap Public House for the spicy ahi tuna avocado tartar and pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter. So scrumptious! For dinner, sit down for an elegant spread at award-winning The Chef’s Table. Sample Southern classics, like the fried green tomato and the local hazelnut-crusted trout. Tell yourself, “I’m on vacation,” and indulge in a glass of Scotch to bring the meal to a close.

While we’re talking about the fabulous cuisine, we ought to mention Waynesville is also a craft brewery hub. So be sure to order up the local beers with each meal. Yes, a little classy day-drinking may be the perfect pairing with your Haywood County getaway. Be sure to try a tasting flight at BearWaters Brewing Company—the city’s most award-winning beer maker—as well as our other favorites, Frog Level Brewing, Tipping Point Brewing and Boojum Brewing Company. BearWaters will soon move to Canton—the last stop on our itinerary—so read on to learn more about where to find their signature Skipping Stone Stout in the future. Bottoms up!

Tuesday: Get out on the water in Lake Junaluska

Located just 4.5 miles north of Waynesville, Lake Junaluska is an easy day trip from The Yellow House on Plott Creek Road B&B, so go ahead and book another blissful night. A hot in-suite spa bath will sound extra soothing after a long day playing on the water at Lake Junaluska Retreat & Conference Center. Slice through the calm currents in a kayak, sunbathe on the dock and putter around in a peaceful pontoon with a knowledgeable tour guide. Feeling fierce? Try floating around on a paddle board—it’s the next best thing to walking on water. Come back to Waynesville and refuel with pizza, pasta, and tapas at family-run Pasquale’s Mediterranean-Italian Restaurant. If you can’t finish that baked penne smothered in meat sauce, pass some our way.

Wednesday: Step back in time in Clyde

The entire region is sprinkled with history, from early Native American artifacts to colonial homes and Civil War sites. In Clyde, historic houses and museums trace local and national history throughout the centuries. Explore the multi-generational Shook-Welch-Smathers House. Construction began as early as 1795 by Jacob Shook and later residents continued to expand and renovate the space up to the most recent updates in 2003. As you wander up each staircase, pay attention to the changes in style and craftsmanship—that’s history in the making. Speaking of making history, take a bite—or several—of Southern comfort food at Blue Rooster Southern Grill. We’re pretty sure their shrimp and grits are a local icon, too.

In solidarity with their fellow fire fighters and other victims and heroes of 9/11, the Clyde fire house team erected beams from Ground Zero as reminders to reflect and remember that fateful day. Visit another contemporary town landmark in the city center at the Anti-Aircraft Gun Memorial, given to the city by David Brown in honor of women and men who served in WWII, the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. Locals affectionately call it “The Big Gun,” because, well, it is.

Thursday: Take the scenic route through Maggie Valley

Stay here: Cabins at Twinbrook Resort

What better way to see the Great Smoky Mountains than from a comfy cabin surrounded by mountain peaks, waterfalls and walking trails? Stay in a cozy one-bedroom cabin for a tranquil solo retreat or romantic getaway, or invite family and friends and hide out together in a bigger space—all outfitted with high-speed Internet, luxury bedding, and access to shared resort amenities. After a day in the great outdoors, sit by the community fire pit and stare up at the stars. Stay here for the rest of the week.

Whether you fly or drive to your destination, make sure you can see this valley as it was meant to be explored: from the tree-lined lanes of inter-state Blue Ridge Parkway. Stop for a visit to Devil’s Courthouse—you can’t miss the ominous rock formation that looks remarkably like a face judging Maggie Valley’s visitors. Prefer a more heavenly hike? Leave the parkway via US Route 19 and head towards Cherokee until you see signs for Soco Falls, a misty and secluded patch of paradise. Take a towel, because we aren’t joking about the misty part.

Friday: Kick up your heels in Canton

As your week in Haywood County winds down, join in one last hurrah! Known for its annual Labor Day Festival—the oldest of its kind in the entire Southeast. Each Labor Day weekend, downtown Canton becomes a two-day party with live bluegrass music, a farmers market, crafts expo and lots of activities for kids of all ages. Indulge on tacos, barbecue, ice cream and more from local eateries and get out on the dance floor in honor of the Labor Movement. If you miss Labor Day in Canton, no worries. There’s always the town tree lighting ceremony and Christmas parade and other gatherings throughout the year, like the outdoor concert Pickin’ in the Park in September and charity events, too, so bring your dancing shoes and an open heart.

Whenever you’re able to visit Haywood County, have your send-off dinner at Southern Porch in Canton’s historic The Imperial Hotel. Although the guest rooms are no longer available for rent, there’s always something cooking in the Southern Porch kitchen and the beautiful building outdates Canton as we know it. Today, it’s a family-owned charmer preserved by the Smathers family. It’s an incredible piece of local history, and we haven’t even mentioned the lovely garden setting and the bourbon barbecue burger—the perfect end to a relaxing excursion and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

If five days seems like a whirlwind, then by all means, extend your stay or come back to savor the sights, flavors and celebrations that make Haywood County, North Carolina a jewel in the Great Smoky Mountains. The adventure starts now!

About the Author: Kohleun Adamson
Kohleun is a fan of high tea in Scottish villages and low tide on Coronado Beach, and she can’t get enough of rolling vineyard vistas. These days it’s no easy feat to pull her away from the California coast, but she can be wooed with Moroccan cous cous and ancient palace ruins. As a writer, Kohleun has a passion for sharing the intricate details of a journey well traveled, whether it involves crossing continents or exploring close to home.

Oct 26 2016

Eight Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks Not to Overlook

This week, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little ride…(I hope my fellow Forrest Gump enthusiasts picked up on that reference).  Ok, so I really did have a reason – peak fall color.  For this very reason, I chose to take “America’s Favorite Drive” on a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and boy am I glad I did.

Of the 469 miles of parkway winding through North Carolina and Virginia, 46 of those miles carve their way through Haywood County.  There are several routes you can take but I chose to hop on the BRP just outside of Maggie Valley via US-19 and headed north towards Asheville.  This route takes the longest but is worth every twist and turn.  There are a total of four parkway access points in Haywood County – US-19 in Maggie Valley, US 23-74 just outside of Waynesville, and Hwy 215 and Hwy 276 in Canton.

I rode pretty much the entire 46 miles by taking US-19 all the way to Hwy 276. Depending on how many stops you make, it could take you anywhere from a couple hours to an entire day just to cover the Haywood County section.  And here is an important tip – fill up your vehicle before you go because the closest gas station on the parkway is over 50 miles away from the US-19 entrance at the Pisgah Inn.  However, there does happen to be restroom facilities and a visitor center at Waterrock Knob (but no fuel). I highly recommend taking a break there to take in the views, grab some information or a snack, and maybe even take a quick hike to the top of the knob.

The parkway can be pretty crowded this time of year, especially the most popular overlooks and hiking trails, so today I thought I’d highlight a few of the overlooks that aren’t as widely publicized (and a few that are).  With that said, there are a total of 74 total vistas and overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, so needless to say you have plenty to choose from.  It’s really fun to see how some of the views can be so different between one overlook to the next because of the drastic changes in elevation that occur.  This is also one of the many reasons millions of people choose to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway every year.  There are tons of overlooks and vistas that provide amazing scenery and added adventures that you can enjoy by just putting your car in park and stepping outside.

Below are few of the overlooks I stopped to take in the sights from.  Some you may have never heard of and some you may have, but I hope these handful of vistas will inspire your next trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Milepost 454.1 – Thunder Struck Ridge

One of the first overlooks you’ll come across once you hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway on US 19 in Maggie Valley and head North.

Milepost 445.2 – Mt. Lyn Lowry Overlook

You can barely see the 60-foot tall white cross at the peak of the mountain, but make this stop after night falls and you’ll see the light of the cross beaming in memory of a young lady named Lyn Lowry. General Sumter Lowry and his wife Ivilyn erected the cross in memory of their 15-year old daughter Lyn who passed away from a battle with leukemia in the 1960s.  Since 1964 the cross has shined brightly over the Balsams and continues today.

Milepost 431.4 – Richland Balsam Overlook

No trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County is complete without a stop at the highest elevation point on the entire 469 mile scenic byway.  The large parking lot offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and plenty of photo opportunities, including with the sign shown above.

Milepost 431 – Haywood-Jackson Overlook

Don’t overlook this overlook! Signifying the mountains shared by Haywood County and Jackson County, this pull off offers some pretty incredible, sweeping views. There is also a nice picnic area so you can dine al fresco among the gorgeous scenery.

430.7 – Cowee Mountain Overlook

One of the most dramatic overlooks on the parkway, the Cowee Mountain Overlook boasts waves upon waves of rolling mountains. Don’t miss this one as this photo doesn’t begin to do it the same justice as experiencing it in person.

Milepost 423.5 – Courthouse Valley Overlook

Sometimes overlooked by the popular Devil’s Courthouse Overlook, the Courthouse Valley overlook is a quieter pull off with some of the same amazing views.

Milepost 417 – Looking Glass Rock

This overlook is not lacking in popularity by any means, but this is such a unique view of Looking Glass Rock that it is worth waiting for a parking spot.

Milepost 411.9 – Cold Mountain Overlook

If the name Cold Mountain sounds familiar, then you’ve surely either seen the movie or read the civil war era novel by Charles Frazier named after the mountain itself. Many people don’t realize it is a real mountain, but the peak of Cold Mountain to the right of the sign is very real.  Many of the characters in the story were real to, including Inman. He is even buried right here in Haywood County and you can learn a little more about that in another blog highlighting a few of our historic cemeteries.

If you like this story, also check out the Blue Ridge Parkway page where you can download the Blue Ridge Parkway map and plan your ride on “America’s Favorite Drive”!

Oct 17 2016

Discover Farm to Table Finds All Year Long

Did you know that Haywood County is home to over 700 farms encompassing more than 56,000 acres of land? With that much farmland, you are pretty much guaranteed to find some of the freshest, tastiest food anywhere in the region, especially when you dine at any of our farm to table restaurants.  In today’s world of processed foods that are packed full of ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce, the opportunity to dine on a delicious farm fresh meal of homegrown ingredients is a special culinary experience.  But in Haywood County, farm to table experiences don’t just take place in our restaurants.  Opportunities to enjoy simple, locally-grown goodness are bountiful in Haywood County all year long and we invite you to come discover them for yourself!

Photo – Chef Kaighn B. Raymond – Frogs Leap Public House

Currently, the height of harvest season is upon us so you’ll find a variety of local ingredients available on menus across Haywood County. In fact, there are over two dozen delicious restaurants to enjoy a meal featuring Haywood County grown or produced ingredients.  And trust me…you can totally taste the difference!  Keep in mind too that the concept of “farm to table” isn’t just about fruits and vegetables; it includes a wide variety of tasty products that are available year round.  Rainbow trout sustainably raised in the flowing head waters of the Pigeon River, hormone-free grass-fed beef, fresh free range eggs, and a wide variety of culinary products created with locally harvested products are just some of the items you’ll find year round at our local restaurants and markets.  Farm to table isn’t just a meal, its an authentic experience!

Photo – Rachel McIntosh – Dilly Beans from Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon

A perfect example of some of those tasty products comes from Chef Jessica DeMarco, owner of Waynesville-based business Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon.  Chef DeMarco creates her innovative jams, pickles, and other spreads from Haywood County grown ingredients during the height of their harvest season. The final products – like Spiced Apple Beer Jam or Pickled Ramps – can be enjoyed all year long at local restaurants, markets, and are even available for you to take home.  In addition to Copper Pot, you’ll find many other tasty treats served up at local business across the county, or shall we say brewed up?

Another innovative approach to a farm to table experience comes from Clark Williams, owner of Waynesville micro-brewery, Frog Level Brewing. Clark partners with local hop grower (and owner of farm to table restaurant Coffee Cup Cafe in Clyde) Heidi Dunkelberg to utilize a crop of her hops from H&K Farms Hop Yard in Canton. Together they create the annual “Frog P” Pale Ale, a beer brewed entirely with Haywood County grown hops – and it just happens to be due out in a few weeks!  The best part? This is just the start to the many farm to table experiences you can have at anytime in Haywood County.

Photo – Heidi Dunkelberg – Hops from H&K Farms Hop Yard

So now that I’ve sparked your interest and made your mouth water, you’re probably wondering where you can learn more about all these restaurants and experiences.  Thanks to local agritourism initiative, Buy Haywood, a full listing of restaurants and a variety of other agri-adventures can be found in their annual “Find your Adventure” Buy Haywood Agritourism Guide. Not only can you  reference the digital version, but free copies of these guides can be picked up at the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd in Maggie Valley or at wide variety of participating business.  Visit buyhaywood.com to learn more and find a full listing of agritourism offerings.

If you like this story, also read our “Embark on an epic ‘Agri-Adventure’ in Haywood County” blog!

Oct 12 2016

Three Reasons to Spend the Holidays in Haywood County

While seeking out beautiful fall color and sipping hot apple cider by a bonfire may be the only thing on your mind right now, we guarantee that after the last leaf falls you’ll be kicking yourself for not already planning your winter holiday getaway.  It is never too early to start making holiday travel plans and trust me, the earlier you plan, the better.  That favorite little cabin you booked last year may already be taken if you wait too long, so consider this your official “nudge” from your friends here in Haywood County.

We know better than anyone that the towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton, and Clyde are all popular spots to spend the holidays for many reasons. We will share just a few of those but invite you to come and explore a few more of those reasons firsthand.  Haywood County offers an abundance of year-round adventures, making it the perfect spot to stay and play this holiday season.  We also offer tons of cozy accommodations so whether you are traveling with the extended family in tow or just a romantic holiday escape for the two of you, we have a place for you. Start planning now by either downloading a visitor guide or we will send you one for free!

Ski, Snowboard, and Snow Tube at Catalooochee Ski Area

Typically open by November 1st or before, Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley aims to offer the longest running ski season each year.  Located at around 5,000 feet in elevation, the ski area offers a variety of slopes and trails perfect for novices, veterans and everyone in between. Because of it’s variety of snow sport opportunities, Cataloochee Ski Area is a popular getaway for friends and families to enjoy the fresh air and breathtaking views of the NC Smokies in the wintertime.

With 18 slopes and trails, Cataloochee Ski Area offers mountains of fun for everyone. Beginners can get a feel for things on a couple of smooth, gentle slopes (classes and private lessons are also available). The more adventurous and skilled ones can head up to 5,400 feet and take on the Upper “Omigosh” trail or check out the ramps, rails and boxes at the Cat Cage Terrain Park. After a day on the slopes, relax in the lodge and enjoy a tasty bite to eat, a warm beverage, or even a frosty brew. Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, the surrounding views are magical and make for the perfect holiday backdrop.

For those who aren’t quiet ready to take on the slopes buckled into a pair of skis or a snowboard, head down the mountain to enjoy an easier, yet exciting form of snow fun.  Tube World offers snow tubing and is a great activity that the entire family can enjoy together.

To plan your visit and check out the latest ski report, head over to cataloochee.com. Got kids? Here’s a tip on getting the the most bang for you buck – Check out kidsskifree.com for a great promotional offer.

Choose and Cut the perfect Christmas Tree

There is nothing quite like the beauty and fresh scent of a real Christmas tree in the middle of your living room.  Sure, you could pull the old boxed tree out of the closet or pick up a pre-cut tree at the local tree lot, but there is no holiday tradition quite like the quest for the perfect “choose n’ cut” Christmas tree.

Every year, families from all over trek to Haywood County to find the grandest tree of all and when you spend a holiday getaway in the NC Smokies, you can experience that same tradition. The fertile soil of Haywood County is home to five Christmas tree farms specializing in North Carolina Fraser Firs.  You can also stock up on a variety of fresh decor like garland and wreaths to decorate your home with.  If you’re short on time, several of the farms offer a selection of pre-cut trees but they never skimp on tradition. Many of them offer hot cider and other seasonal treats to make sure you take away plenty of memories with your beautiful tree.

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
446 Boyd Farm Rd., Waynesville NC 28785
828-926-888 or www.boydmountainchristmastreefarm.com

Dutch Cove Christmas Tree Farm
280 Setzer Dr., Canton NC 28716
828-400-0806

Mehaffey Tree Farm
24 Corner Dr., Waynesville NC 28786
828-926-1324 or mehaffeytreefarm.com

Nesbitt Christmas Tree Farm
333 Sunset Ridge Rd., Clyde NC 28721
828-400-2244

WNC Christmas Trees
2436 Jonathan Creek Rd, Waynesville NC 29785
828-926-3224 or wnclandscaping.com

Photo – Ken Czarnomski

Experience the Joys of Winter Hiking

If you think hiking is only a warm-weather hobby, you are missing out on a grand adventure! Hiking in the winter offers a unique experience that you don’t get to enjoy when the leaves are on the trees. It’s a great way to spend some extra time during your holiday vacation, especially when you are rolling in guilt after that third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy!

For starters, while the NC Smokies do receive an average amount of winter weather, the majority of the days are not blanketed with snow, leaving hiking trails wide open for exploration. With the leaves off of the trees, the long range views are remarkable and perfect for beautiful photo opportunities. You won’t have bugs to swat at and favorite hiking areas are much less crowded, giving you the peaceful serenity all hikers seek.

Winter hiking does require a little more planning and preparation like dressing in warm layers, keeping an eye on the weather, making sure certain trails are open, and starting earlier in the day to avoid hiking out in the dark.  But with the right information and gear, we know winter hiking will become a new holiday tradition for you and your family.

There are several trails that still remain accessible even when the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park close due to inclement weather.  Two trails we highly suggest are the Purchase Knob Trail and the Sam’s Summit Loop Trail.  Free, illustrated hiking guides are available at the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd. in Maggie Valley, so stop by and pick up these guides to start your winter hiking adventure!

Oct 04 2016

Festive Fall Events in the NC Smokies

As if the beautiful fall foliage of the Great Smoky Mountains wasn’t enough of a reason to plan your Autumn getaway to Haywood County, I’m pretty sure the excellent lineup of festive fall events is.  We guarantee a variety of unique festivals and events this fall in Haywood County.  In fact, you may even have a hard time choosing!  Celebrations of music, food, arts and crafts, mountain heritage, spooktacular happenings and more are slated for the coming weeks in Haywood County.

You can check out some of the upcoming events below or head on over to our Event Calendar for the latest and greatest happenings in Haywood.

So what are you waiting for?  Book your stay and get to the NC Smokies before the last leaf falls!

10/6-9 – Spyder Adventures 2016 Rally
Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Rd
Event for Spyder Can Am Owners 7am – 9PM
Spyderadventures.com

10/07 – Art After Dark
Downtown Waynesville & Historic Frog Level
6PM – 9PM Stroll the participating galleries
Waynesvillegalleryassociation.com

10/13 -15th – High Country Annual Quilt Show
First Baptist Church, 3684 Soco Road Maggie Valley
Thursday Noon – 4pm, Fri. & Sat. 10am-4pm 828-926-3169

Weekends thru 10/16 –  Into the Woods
HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville
Friday & Saturday 7:30PM Sunday 3:00PM
harttheatre.com or 828-456-6322

10/08 – Bethel ½ Marathon & 5K
Bethel Community, Canton
bethelhalfmarathonand5k.weebly.com or bethelhalfmarathonand5k@gmail.com

10/08 – 33rd Annual Church Street Arts & Craft Show
Downtown Waynesville 10AM – 5PM
downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517

10/08 & 09 – BRACA Falling Leaves Craft Show
758 Crabtree Road Haywood Fairgrounds 9AM – 4PM
bracaorg.com or 828-648-0500

10/11 – Friends of the Smokies” Classic Hikes
Double Springs Gap & Andrews Bald
Must Preregister: $20 for members
Friendsofthesmokies.org or 800-845-5665

10/15 – 28th Annual Apple Harvest Festival
Downtown Waynesville
haywoodapplefest.com or 828-456-3021

10/15 & 16 – Maggie Valley Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Road
Gates open at 9am FREE
maggievalley.org or 828-926-1686

10/15 & 16 – BRACA Autumn Leaves Craft Show
758 Crabtree Road Haywood Fairgrounds 9AM – 4PM
bracaorg.com or 828-648-0500

10/16 – Haywood Community Band Concert
Maggie Valley Pavilion 3987 Soco Road
6:30PM FREE haywoodcommunityband.org or 828-456-4880

10/21 – 10/30 – The Mystery of Irma Vep
HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville
Friday & Saturday 7:30PM Sunday 3:00PM
harttheatre.com or 828-456-6322

10/28 – 10/29 – Spookmoot
Folkmoot Friendship Center – 112 Virginia Ave, Waynesville
828-452-2997
folkmoot.org

10/31 – Treats on the Streets
Downtown Waynesville
5-7PM Free Event 828-456-3517

10/31 – Trunk or Treat
Haywood County Fair Grounds 758 Crabtree Rd Waynesville
Public Event 5 – 8pm $1 admission for ages 4 and up.

Sep 26 2016

Spooky Spots and Haywood Haunts

The haunting season is upon us and for those of you who love tales of mystery, scary points of interest, and hauntingly historic places, Haywood County is the place for you.  While many destinations have their own spooky tales, Haywood County has several curious tales of it’s own that are sure you pique your interest.  And you never know where these tales may take you – perhaps enjoying local brew in the company of a mysterious legend, coming face to face with the Judaculla, or on a late night stroll among the final resting place of some of Haywood County’s most historic residents.  Photo above – Stephanie Williamson

Photo by Corrine Baker – Original painting by Cordon Bell

The Tale of the Boojum

It is that time of year again – where the days get darker and the mountains become just a bit more eerie with each passing sunset. Halloween is almost here and if you’ve followed our blog for a while, you know there is one Haywood County tall tale we share every year: The Legend of the Boojum. You may have heard this name more frequently, thanks to Waynesville’s popular craft microbrewery, Boojum Brewing.  The brewery was named after our favorite local legend, the Boojum.  So without further adieu, I give you the story of our own mystic mountain creature….

Have you ever hiked deep into the North Carolina Smokies and gotten the distinct feeling as if something was watching you? And were you certain you saw something out of the corner of your eye only to find it was just the rustling of dead leaves on a tree. But wait…was it only the leaves or was it something else? These old mountains hold a story that very few know of and even fewer have witnessed: The Legend of Boojum. Since the Halloween season is here and many of you are making plans to venture deep into the North Carolina Smokies for one last Fall hike, it’s only fitting that I share this piece of Haywood County folklore with you.

We’ve all heard of Bigfoot sightings throughout the United States and seen the supposed pictures and video footage, but little did you know that we have a similar being roaming about the Balsam Mountains of Haywood County. One might say the Boojum is similar to the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayans or the Wampas Cat in the swamps of Eastern North Carolina. But Boojum is a unique creature of his own and Haywood County is his home. Though no one has actually gotten close enough to clearly describe him, its said he is around eight feet tall and mixture of both man and beast. He has thick, shaggy, gray hair and a human like face, but is by no means handsome. He is mostly seen from afar on rocky mountain cliffs or outcroppings when twilight falls and can sometimes be heard moaning deep in the woods near hiking trails. As previously mentioned, Boojum’s home is said to be in the Balsam Mountains, a range that adjoins the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Haywood County. Most folks recognize the Balsams by the notable peaks of Cold Mountain, Shining Rock, Richland Balsam, and Black Balsam Knob. While I don’t recommend going on a quest to find Boojum as he may be be quite frightening to stumble upon, he is apparently harmless unless threatened.

Boojum is best known by his two great loves: a fondness of pretty girls and his desire for the precious gemstones found throughout Western North Carolina such as rubies, amethysts, emeralds, and sapphires. It is said that in the early 1900’s, it was not uncommon for women bathing in secluded mountain streams to find they were being watched by Boojum from beneath the camouflage of mountain laurels or rhododendron bushes. The startled women would quickly grab their belongings and run away. This often conjured up an angry pack of men from the surrounding area to hunt the Boojum down, but never was he caught. He most surely retreated to one of his many hidden caves in the Balsams where he lived and hoarded his collection of gemstones. Though it is rare for anyone to find his caves, he has created a unique way of protecting his jewels by storing them at the bottom of stone jugs. He then fills the jugs with”pert’nin juice” or what is most commonly known as moonshine. Even if a gem seeker should happen to find one of his many jugs, no self-respecting mountaineer would dare waste this coveted liquid by pouring it on the ground. They would drink the contents until empty which would then be followed by a long, deep sleep. Boojum would return in the meantime and retrieve his gems, leaving the thief with nothing but a splitting headache when he awoke.

Now it is also said that Boojum was not as lonely of a soul as many thought him to be. There is the story of Boojum peering down at a beautiful local girl named Annie while she was bathing in a mountain stream but she did not run away when she noticed him watching her. Rather than taking off, she looked into his sad eyes and was instantly drawn to him. She immediately fell in love and to her family’s dismay, chose a life with Boojum among the caves of the Balsams. Though the two loved each other deeply, Boojum could not put aside his love for precious gemstones and would often leave Annie for extended periods of time in search of jewels. Lonely Annie would often search the woods for Boojum by hollering out a sound that is described as a mixture of a wild animal screech and the hoot of an owl. Boojum would often return the call and they would continue to follow each others sounds until they were reunited. It is said that this hooting sound is where the old mountain term “Hootenanny” came from, which is used to describe a party or social gathering.

The legend of Boojum is no doubt a mysterious piece of Haywood County folklore, but is it only a story? To this day, there are still tales of a tall shaggy creature roaming the Balsam Mountains. So could it be that Annie and Boojum had children? We may never know, but next time you are deep in the woods of Haywood County and hear a screech you can’t quite describe or you feel an eerie sense when taking a dip in a local stream, you may just be in the presence of the Boojum. And remember, do not drink the pert’nin juice!

Credits:  Oral stories and tales from Canton and Camp Hope; “Boojum, North Carolina’s Bigfoot”, North Carolina Ghost Stories and Legends; “Bigfoot of the Balsams”, Mountain Ghost Stories and Curious Tales of Western North Carolina, by Randy Russell and Janet Barnette.  “Boojum of the Plott Balsams” by John Parris.

Photo: Vicki Dameron

Visit the Scariest Sounding Points on the Blue Ridge Parkway

They may sound scary, but don’t let the names fool you.  Located within just a few miles of each other on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, Devil’s Courthouse and Graveyard Fields are anything but a spooky experience.

Located at milepost 422, Devils Courthouse is believed to take its name from both its sinister rock formations and the legend that the devil held court in the cave that lies beneath the rock.  Local Cherokee lore believes the cave is the private chamber of the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla. A short, 200-minute uphill hike will take you to the overlook summit at 5,720 feet, where you will find some of the most long-range scenic views on the parkway, including views of South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Located just north at milepost 418 is Graveyard Fields, which is surrounded by much speculation on how its name came to be. One belief is it developed from a tremendous windstorm that uprooted the spruce forest that left behind stumps that gave the area the appearance of a graveyard. Another theory believes that logging in the early 20th century left tree stumps resembling gravestones. However, due to massive forest fires in the last century, the stumps were destroyed and the soil scorched enough to render it sterile.  Despite this, it remains one of the most popular hiking areas on the parkway due to easily accessible waterfall features and incredible flora and fauna, including abundant blackberry, gooseberry and blueberry bushes throughout.  Check out our Blue Ridge Parkway page for help planning your trip.

Photo: Anna Jorstad

Haywood’s Historic Cemeteries

It’s no secret that Haywood County is rich in homegrown mountain history. Established in 1808, the county has a history story over 200 years in the making. The area is home to generations of families that settled the area and planted ties that still exist today. Many visitors are drawn to the area just to explore its deep rooted history but there are some particular places that are often overlooked on their quest for knowledge: the historic cemeteries of Haywood County. Though the area has many notable final resting places, there are three in particular that have quite a story to tell: Bethel Cemetery, Greenhill Cemetery, and Locust Fields Cemetery.

Bethel Cemetery

Established 1854, the site is located on a sprawling hill within the Bethel community, which lies at the foot of Cold Mountain between Canton and Waynesville. While it is the final resting place for many generations of Haywood County, the most famous grave-site is often the most overlooked, due to the unmarked grave. William Pinkney Inman, better known as “Inman”, was the inspiration for Charles Frazier’s novel, Cold Mountain, which was later made into a major motion picture starring actor Jude Law as Inman. His simple resting place can be found a top the hill but due to the lack of a headstone, the location is identified only by the gravestones of his parents, Joshua and Polly Inman. His burial site is said to be the unmarked area located in front of his parents. This area is also the final resting place of Inman’s fellow soldier and friend, Johnny Swanger. It is said that he is buried right next to Inman so it’s difficult to designate where each man lies. In 1864, they were both shot down together on Big Stomp Mountain by the Home Guard as deserters of the Civil War. Inman’s father retrieved their bodies and had them buried in Bethel Cemetery. Unfortunately, due to their deserter status, they did not receive the same burial honors as other soldiers of the confederacy. This site is one of many that has been researched and included on the self-guided Cold Mountain Heritage Tour sponsored by the Bethel Rural Community Organization. For more information visit www.bethelrural.org.

Greenhill Cemetery

Located just off of South Main Street in downtown Waynesville, this peaceful section of wooded area and rolling hills is the final resting place to some of Haywood County’s most notable citizens. The founder of Waynesville and revolutionary war hero, Colonel James Robert Love, is buried atop the highest hill. Colonel Love donated the land Waynesville was founded on and named it after his commanding officer in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. Not far from Colonel Love is the grave-site of William Holland Thomas, who was not only the first and only white chief of the Cherokee Indians but the founder of Thomas’s Legion, the only North Carolina Legion during the Civil War. This has earned the cemetery a spot on the North Carolina Civil Wars Trail and is designated by an informational post at the cemetery entrance. Thomas’s Legion consisted of both Cherokee and local mountaineers known as “highlanders” which earned the legion the notorious nickname of the “Highlander Rangers”. The Legion fought in Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky and many served in the final engagements of the war in North Carolina that took place in Waynesville and Asheville. Also buried in this cemetery is Atlas Jennings Allen, bugler for General Robert E. Lee, five US Senators and Congressmen, and President John F. Kennedy’s personal chauffeur, William Greer, who was behind the wheel of the limousine the day of Kennedy’s deadly assassination.

You can even take a living history tour starring some of Greenhill Cemetery’s most fascinating and eccentric historic figures on October 8th – Greenhill Cemetery Tour.

Locust Field Cemetery

The cemetery was established 1803 when Locust Field Baptist Church was first built, making it one of the first churches established west of Asheville. The cemetery sits quietly on a plot of rolling hills across from the Canton Public Library and just a short stroll from downtown Canton. Locust Fields is also featured as a point of interest on the North Carolina Civil Wars Trail, which is designated by an informational post near one of the entrances. The cemetery and church served as a campground and rallying point throughout the war for Confederate soldiers. After the confederacy lost control at the battle of Cumberland Gap in September 1863, hundreds of soldiers that were part of the 62nd NC Infantry escaped and set up refuge at Locust Fields. During the winter of 1864 – 1865, the cemetery became a Confederate encampment again for Colonel James Robert Love II (grandson of the founder of Waynesville, Colonel James Robert Love) and six companies of Thomas’s Legion. These soldiers took part in some of the last fights of the war in spring of 1865.Dozens of Confederate soldiers are buried in Locust Fields.

Sep 19 2016

Seven Sensational Spots to See the Autumn Leaves

This week marks the first official day of Fall (September 22) and if you’re reading this then you obviously have an interest in fall time adventure.  I dare say that there are few places (if any) that are more perfect to view gorgeous fall color than the North Carolina Smoky Mountains. Haywood County is an especially awesome area to check out the changing of the leaves for many reasons.  For starters, 18 of our mountain peaks soar to elevations of over 6,000 feet – the most of any county east of the Mississippi River. That means we offer some of the most incredible, long range views of the fall color and because of the high elevation we offer some of the first changes of color in the region.

To help plan your trip around the peak fall color, the Biology Department at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC has released a Fall Color Map for Western North Carolina. One of the most common questions we get from Fall “leaf-peepers” is: “When and where can I experience the best peak fall color?”  Well the answer to that depends on where exactly you are located and also on how the weather conditions are favoring. This map is a great guide to reference and we encourage you to follow the link to learn more.

From: http://biology.appstate.edu/fall-color-report/fall-color-map-north-carolina

Conceived by Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow
Map Constructed by Michael Denslow

 

If that isn’t enough to make you pack your bags and head to Haywood County, then maybe a list of seven sensational sites to see the leaves change will surely entice you. And here is a little secret – they are ALL right here in Haywood County!

1.) Waterrock Knob Overlook – Milepost 451.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Not only does this overlook boast 360 views from it’s parking area that sits at almost 6,000 feet in elevation, you’ll find a NPS visitor center, restroom facilities, and several picnic areas. This makes it the perfect spot to not only take in incredible fall color but also offers a chance to relax for a bit and enjoy a picnic lunch.  It also offers a fantastic hiking opportunity – a 1.2 mile moderate hike will take you to the summit for even more spectacular autumn views.

2.) Max Patch

Located just off of Interstate 40 West before you cross into Tennessee, Max Patch is another great option for 360 views, but this time in a more remote area.  Max Patch is a 4,600 foot mountain bald that offers acres of wide open clearings with offer amazing, unobstructed views of surrounding fall color.  Several hikes can be accessed from here, including a popular section of the Appalachian Trail. Take Exit 7 at Harmon’s Den and turn right onto Cold Spring Rd. A six mile drive up a beautiful winding road will bring you to the Max Patch parking area.  Park and enjoy!

Check out this incredible time lapse video we shot at Max Patch!

3.) Lake Junaluska and Lake Logan

Yeah, we squeezed two places into the #3 spot, but whether you check out one or both, each lake boasts beautiful, easily accessible fall scenery at a lower elevation.

Lake Junaluska, located in the heart of Haywood County between Clyde, Waynesville, and Maggie Valley, offers amazing fall views courtesy of it’s surrounding mountains.  Take in the beauty with a leisurely stroll around lake on a paved 2.6 mile trail that is also perfect for riding bikes, walking the dog, or taking a jog. Other activities includes fishing, recreational paddling, mini-golf and more.  You can also stay the night with several accommodation options provided by the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

Next, head towards Canton and take Hwy 215 South towards the Blue Ridge Parkway.  You’ll pass right through the peaceful area of Lake Logan, but make sure you pull over to take a photo and explore. Lake Logan Episcopal Center offers unique “summer camp” style cabins and cottages to stay in throughout the lake and enjoy fall color.  Recreational opportunities also include fishing, paddling, and even a ropes course that is perfect for groups.  Both lakes are beautifully highlighted by the season so make sure you check them out.

4.) Devils Courthouse Overlook and Hiking Area – Milepost 422.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

You can’t miss this sinister looking rock formation that offers incredible falls views from both it’s parking area and the summit.  Said to have gotten it’s name from the Cherokee legend of the slant-eyed giant Judaculla who is said to reside within a cave located on the mountain, this eerie landmark is not to be missed.  Photo opportunities at the parking area offer amazing views of the massive cliff but a short 1/2 mile (yet strenuous) hike to the top will give you fall color views of four different states – NC, SC, GA, and TN.

5.) Downtown districts of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton and Clyde

Some of the best fall experiences can often be found in the heart of charming downtown districts.  Haywood County’s four towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, and Clyde offer fun fall time activities and scenery for everyone.  Festivals, entertainment, delicious restaurants, local shopping and more can be enjoyed amidst a fantastic fall decor display in each town. And don’t forget to look up – the surrounding beauty of the colorful mountains is just icing on the cake.

6.) Graveyard Fields Overlook and Hiking Area  – Milepost 418.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most popular spots to view fall color on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields offers plenty of opportunities to take in the beauty of the season.  Rushing waterfalls and cool, clear streams are a favorite highlight along this moderate 3.2 mile hiking trail.  The unique layout of this trail offers the feeling of being smack dab in the middle of all the fall time beauty.  Here’s a tip – go early or during the week; the parking area can often be crowded but it is well worth waiting for a parking spot.

Photo – Vicki Dameron

7.) Cataloochee Valley – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

No Fall trip to Haywood County is complete without an adventure to see the wild elk of Cataloochee Valley.  From Hwy 276 take Cove Creek Rd into the remote area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park known as Cataloochee Valley.  The elk roam wild throughout the valley (most noticeable at dawn and dusk) and fall signals the height of their rut season. Bull elks can often be heard “bugling” to signal their dominance over other bulls and is a highlight in itself.  Besides the wild elk, the valley is home to several historic homesteads that include houses, churches, and even a school house.  This serene valley is especially enjoyable in the fall as the surrounding trees and mountains come alive with golden color.

These are just seven of many amazing spots to view fall color in Haywood County.  There are dozens of scenic overlooks,  miles of hiking trails, and tons of other fun spots from high elevations to low that you can enjoy the spectacular color of fall leaves.  Gives us a call at 800-334-9036 or stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC and we will share a few more of our favorites.

Photo – Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

Sep 13 2016

Get Lost…In a Corn Maze

It’s all about planning your Fall adventure this month and there are few things more nostalgic than Autumn activities.  Sipping cider by a bonfire, meandering through a pumpkin patch, visiting a haunted house, and getting lost in an authentic corn maze are all activities that just scream Fall time fun!  And the best part? You can do all of this and more when you visit Haywood County.

This week we’re highlighting one of the quintessential highlights of Fall in Haywood – a trip to the Cold Mountain Corn Maize in Canton. This might possibly be the PERFECT family fall outing with something for the entire family to enjoy. Located in the shadow of Cold Mountain – made famous by Charles Frazier novel “Cold Mountain” and later made into a major motion picture – the Cold Mountain Corn Maize offers autumn activities for all ages.  First and foremost, the actual corn maze itself is the highlight of the trip. Getting lost has never been this much fun!

Photo – Heather Mina

Every year, the Cold Mountain Corn Maize creates an intricate design concept for the maze that often gives nod to the surroundi2106 Corn Mazeng community. Many who visit don’t even realize that the twists and turns they are navigating through actually makes up a unique design that can only be seen from high above.  The design for 2016 honors one of Haywood County’s most timeless traditions – the Pisgah High School vs. Tuscola High School Football Rivalry.  Here in Western NC we take our high school football very seriously and the Pisgah Black Bears vs. Tuscola Mountaineers rivalry game is known as one of the biggest rivalries within the state and even the southeast. Every year it draws a sell-out crowd in the thousands!  These two high schools – both located in Haywood – duke it out in the county clash to earn bragging rights for the year ahead. This year’s corn maze design honors this tradition and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the high schools and their rivalry.

We invite you to come check out this year’s latest maze layout and see for yourself just how much fun it is.  For the brave ones, once the sun goes down the maze takes a turn for the scary when they unveil their heart-pounding haunted maze. Full of thrilling twists, turns, and surprises, the haunted maze typically kicks off in October for the Halloween season.

Photo – Heather Mina

Once on the farm you’ll find that the maze isn’t the only autumn activity to enjoy.  Rummage through a pumpkin patch for the perfect pick, hop on for an old-fashion tractor pulled hayride, enjoy a tasty treat by the bonfire, take some great family photos with all the great fall decor, and much more.  Cold Mountain Corn Maize also plans various special events throughout their season like community flea markets, lumberjack competitions, BBQ events and other fall favorites.  To find out what is lined up during your visit, just give them a call – 828.648.8575.

Photo – Cold Mountain Corn Maize

Ready to take on the Corn Maze? Here’s all you need to know!

Website: Cold Mountain Corn Maize

Opening for the season on Saturday, September 24

Hours:

Wednesday – Friday   4 to 9 pm

Saturday & Sunday    1 to 9 pm

Admission:

Ages 4 and older – $8

Ages 3 and under – Free

Hayride – $2

Group rates available

Cash or check only

More info and question – Call 828.648.8575

Don’t Forget! – The Cold Mountain Corn Maize is only one of the MANY agritourism experiences in Haywood County.  You can complement your trip to the corn maze with variety of other agri-adventures – all you need is a free copy of the Buy Haywood “Find Your Adventure” Agritoursim Guide.  You can pick up one at the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd. in Maggie Valley or at a variety of participating partners.

Need a place to stay? Take your pick of a plethora of accommodations but take our advice and book early for Fall! You don’t want to miss out on the perfect basecamp to launch all your adventures from!

Sep 06 2016

Take Your “Pick” of Fun

Photo – Courtesy of Barbers Orchard Facebook

With Labor Day signaling the unofficial close of summer, it is time to bid farewell to hot weather and say hello to fall-time fun.  There are so many great activities to enjoy autumn in Haywood County but since we are still early in the season, I’m going to be highlighting a few that you can start enjoying now in September.  This week it is all about taking your “pick” of fun with Haywood County grown apples.

For starters, did you know that apple season is already in full effect here in Haywood County?  One of the first signs that summer is beginning to wind down is the official opening of Barbers Orchard Fruit Stand in Waynesville. Open August – December, no fall trip to Haywood County is complete without a visit to Barbers for apples and a variety of apple-related treats.  While they have already been open for over a month, the different varieties of apples available increases as more of the harvest becomes ripe for the pickin’.  In fact, the nice folks at Barbers keep a running list of when each type of apple will be available with sixteen varieties total.  My personal favorite? The Pink Lady apple, which also happens to be the last variety available – slated for November 5th.  But trust me, those delicious ladies are well worth the wait!

Photo – Courtesy of Barbers Orchard Facebook

Along with bushels upon bushels of apples, this time of year you’ll find plenty of local produce to choose from like peaches, tomatoes, cabbage, and corn.  As apples become more readily available and our harvest season comes to a close the fruit stand will transition over to mainly apples.  Along with all those tasty apples also comes the decadent sweet treats that Barbers is also so well known for.  Fresh apple cider, fritters, turnovers, cakes, pies, cookies muffins, and my absolute favorite – apple cider doughnuts. You’ll also find a variety of jams, jellies, and other yummy treats to round out your trip to Barbers. And don’t you dare leave Barbers without one of their most beloved, frosty treats – apple cider or peach cider slushees!

Photo – Courtesy of Barbers Orchard Facebook

A trip to Barbers is not just a trip to a produce stand, it is a signature fall experience that you will find only here in Haywood County. But Barbers isn’t the only place you can find fresh Haywood County apples.  Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market, the Waynesville Tailgate Market, and other area farms like KT Orchards in Canton will have a variety of apples to choose from as well. Also for those of you who really love your apples, come celebrate all things apple at the 28th annual Apple Harvest Festival on October 15th in downtown Waynesville.  The festival is chocked full of local crafts, music, food, and of course plenty of apples.

Aug 22 2016

Fall in love with Haywood County this Autumn

Today was the first day back to school for many kids, including those in Haywood County.  The rumbling of those big yellow buses can only mean one thing: summer is dwindling away and fall is well on its way.  Don’t be sad though because this is one of the grandest seasons of all. There is no other time of the year I love more than the fall season in the Great Smoky Mountains. Autumn is such a special time here in the mountains for many reasons and I personally invite you to come experience all that this majestic season has to offer.

You can start to feel it now…with cooler nights becoming more frequent, days growing shorter, and before long the first of the leaves will begin to turn.  But while the trees may not be turning quite yet, now is the time to start planning and booking that autumn trip, especially if you’re leaning towards a weekend visit.  Want a local tip? Check out a weekday trip this Fall – you’ll find less crowds and more accommodation availability which means you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying! I am confident that after just one trip, you’ll fall in love with Autumn in Haywood just like so many other people have.

Obviously, scenic drives are one of the biggest draws to the area in the fall.  With just a short drive to Haywood County’s four different access points on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful scenic drive is one of the easiest ways to experience fall color.  Need a few tips on routes to take? Check out our Visit NC Smokies Motorcycle Rides guide.  Whether you are cruising by car or motorcycle, this guide provides some of the very best routes to experience scenic beauty and crisp, fall colors.  If you want to get even more up close with the views, make a stop at one of the 70+ vistas and overlooks along Haywood County’s 46 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway.  Don’t forget your hiking boots too, because many of the stops have access to points to amazing hiking trails, like Graveyard Fields, the Art Loeb Trail, and Waterrock Knob, just to name a few.

Fall is also a very unique time to visit Cataloochee Valley because of the rut season for the wild elk who inhabit the valley.  Rut is also known as the breeding season and it is a very active time in Cataloochee. It allows an opportunity to experience bull elks “bugling” to claim dominance over the female elk and other bulls. There is sometimes even sparring between bull elk which means there is plenty of drama to check out! If you’re interested, I recommend going back to a few blogs ago and checking out the Elk Watching 101 blog. You’ll learn more about this season and how to safely make the most of your visit to Cataloochee Valley.

Photo – Heather Mina – Cold Mountain Corn Maze

Besides exploring the many outdoor adventures that are heightened during the fall season, Haywood County also has some pretty cool agritourism experiences during this time of year.  One of my many favorite traditions is the Cold Mountain Corn Maze.  As one of the few authentic corn mazes in Western North Carolina, you’ll never think getting lost could be this much fun! You can also take home some of the bountiful harvest from our local farms – just pick up a free copy of the Buy Haywood “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide to find the many farmers markets, roadside produce stands, and specialty retail stores. Fall is also the height of apple season, so make sure you stop by Barbers Orchard Stand for a variety of locally grown apples (and don’t forget to pick up a dozen apple cider donuts or fritters). Speaking of apples, Haywood County offers a variety signature fall events that are reason enough to visit, like the annual Apple Harvest Festival in downtown Waynesville.

These are just a few of the MANY reasons why you will fall in love with Haywood County this autumn.  For more suggestions and help planning your trip, stop by or call the Haywood County Visitor Center – 1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 – 800.334.9036.  Or you can download or order a free Visit NC Smokies Visitor Guide or sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to help plan your trip. So what are you waiting for?  Start falling in love with Haywood County now!

Aug 22 2016

Ten Ways to Use Up Your Vacation Days in the Great Smokies

Did you know in 2015 over half of Americans, 55% to be exact, had leftover vacation days that were never used?  That adds up to over 658 million wasted vacation days!! I don’t know about you, but my vacation days are golden and I don’t plan on wasting a single one. Whether I spend them on a big, family vacation somewhere exotic or enjoy a bunch a extended weekends staying and playing in different destinations, I make the very most of those hard earned days.

As we start to head into to the latter months of the year, I think now is the perfect time to take inventory of those vacation days and make plans on how to best use them.  I might be a bit biased, but might I suggest using them right here in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains?  We’ve got tons of awesome ways to occupy a few or more of those days, ranging from free activities to splurging on one-of-kind experiences unlike anywhere else in Western NC.  We’ll even make it easy with a list of “Top 10 Ways to Use Up Your Vacation Days in the Great Smokies”.

Top 10 Ways to Use Up Your Vacation Days in the Great Smokies

1.) Conquer miles and miles of hiking trails – Whether it’s a multi-day backpacking trip or an afternoon walk in the woods, Haywood County’s hiking trails will easily help you burn up some of those vacation hours and calories as well!

2.) Catch a rainbow….trout on the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters – You can’t beat an opportunity to enjoy three-days of trout fishing for just $7.00. Stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center to pick up information and a map of the heritage trout waters, rent either a spinning or fly rod, and receive a free tackle box to keep!

3.) Explore the museum that runs at Wheels Through Time – Indulge your inner “gearhead” and enjoy a day exploring one of the world’s rarest collections of vintage motorcycles.  And the coolest part? Everything in sight can be cranked up and still runs.

4.) Travel back in time to Cataloochee Valley – The site of a pioneer settlements, Cataloochee Valley is a remote area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  You can visit many of the structures that still stand, like homes, churches, and a school house. Add in the miles of hiking trails, pristine streams, and of course, the wild elk population and you’ve got more than just one way to occupy your time in the valley

5.) Embark on an agri-adventure – Haywood County is home to hundreds of farms and agricultural offerings which makes it one of the very best places to spend a few days discovering your inner “agri-adventurer”. Stroll through a local farmer’s market, pick your own produce, get lost in an authentic corn maze, enjoy a locally produced meal at a variety of farm to table restaurants and much more.

6.) Ride the twist and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway – Fondly dubbed as “America’s Favorite Drive”, Haywood County is home to 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  These 46 miles also include some of the highest-elevations of the the 469 miles of parkway, including Richland Balsam (the highest peak on the entire BRP). So whether you’re exploring by two wheels or four, hop on at any of the four entrances in Haywood County and start enjoying those curves!

7.) Paddle the day away at Lake Junaluska – If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at stand up paddleboarding (SUP), canoeing, or kayaking, Lake Junaluska is where you need to be. With multiple rental options available and a wide open lake to learn on, you may just be a pro by the time your vacation comes to close.

8.) Shop local – Haywood County prides itself on a wide variety of local shopping options available – from art galleries and eclectic gift shops, to beautiful boutiques, outdoor outfitters, culinary stops, and plenty of fun shops to pick up Smoky Mountain souvenirs. Each town offers something different so take your time and peruse around.

9.) Take a tour of our taps – Boasting the most craft breweries west of Asheville in the state, Haywood County offers four locally owned and operated craft breweries.  Enjoy tastings at Bearwaters Brewing, Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing, and Tipping Point Tavern & Brewery. Each has it own distinct craft beer menu so make sure to visit them all.  And the best part? Haywood County is adding its first craft distillery this fall in Maggie Valley – Elevated Mountain Distilling Co.

10.) Play me some mountain music  – Or at least listen to some.  Haywood County is proud of it’s southern Appalachian roots which has heavily influenced our local music scene.  You’ll find plenty of local hot spots to listen to authentic bluegrass, progressive folk, southern rock, smooth jazz, and everything else in between.

Now all you need is a place to launch all those awesome adventures from –  Haywood County Accommodations

Aug 15 2016

Elk Watching 101

With all the kiddos heading back to school, we thought now is the perfect time for a refresher course on one of the biggest reasons why people visit Haywood County – Elk watching! As the proud home of Cataloochee Valley, a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the birthplace of the reintroduced elk population, Haywood County welcomes plenty of elk-watching enthusiasts every year hoping to get a glimpse of these majestic creatures.  The elk of Cataloochee Valley roam free and wild in the valley (no cages or fences) so it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of wildlife viewing. But with a little lesson on the elk and how to best enjoy their beauty, you’ll be all set for an incredible adventure.

Elk Watching 101

Overview:

Elk were once abundant across the United States but by the mid-1800’s, the population of the eastern herds were wiped out due to over-hunting and habitat.  However, that is no longer the case because in 2001 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with other partners including the Rock Mountain Elk Foundation joined together to restore the wild elk into the national park in Cataloochee Valley.  The initial 52 elk were released and have grown to a heard of over 150 and counting.  They can mainly be found in Cataloochee Valley but have been spotted in other popular areas in and around the GSMNP, like Maggie Valley and Cherokee.

Safety:

First and foremost, safety should be a top priority.  Elk are wild animals and there are no boundaries or barriers keeping you and the elk separated.  When elk are present, federal regulations require that you DO NOT approach an elk within 150 feet or any distance that disturbs the animals  Failure to do so can result in fines, arrest, or even harm from the animal itself.  It is also extremely important not to feed the elk or interact with them in any way.  Feeding causes way more harm than good, so please do the elk a favor and keep your tasty treats to yourself.

What to expect when viewing:

Most of the elk are located in the Cataloochee Valley area in the southeastern section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  As mentioned previously though, some of the elk have migrated to other areas including Maggie Valley, the Oconaluftee and Ravensford area, and the land of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, NC.  However, Cataloochee Valley remains the most prominent area for elk viewing and you are more likely to witness elk in this area. Cataloochee is a remote area of the GSMNP, so once you leave Hwy 276 there is no food, gas, or other commercial services available.  Tip: Fill up your car, grab some snacks or picnic items, and make one last pit stop before heading into the valley. 

In the valley itself you’ll find several historic structures and exhibits like homes, a school house, and churches from the original pioneer settlement.  You’ll also find hiking trail heads leading to miles and miles trails, camping, and of course the opportunity to view wildlife, including the elk.  The herd is strong and growing quickly.  Keep in mind the prime time to view elk is around sunset and sunrise.  The elk come out into the open valley fields at these times to graze and they return to the wooded areas during the day. There is only one road in and out of Cataloochee Valley, so please practice caution and remember to share the road with your fellow wildlife enthusiasts.

Photo: Cataloochee Valley Tours

Seasonal Highlights:

Calving Season: Late Spring – Most of the calves in Cataloochee and WNC are born late May thru June.  The cows hide their calves in the high grass so for safety and to avoid disturbing the calves, visitors should stay out of the fields. Cows can be aggressive in protecting their young.  By late June, the calves are typically up and moving with the herd.

Growing Season: Summer – The herd can often be seen grazing in fields. Bulls are “in velvet,” rapidly growing new antlers. The calves are growing quickly and will gain as much as 140 pounds by winter.

The Rut: Fall –  The mating season for the elk is called the rut, which occurs from mid-September through the end of October. Large bulls bugle and fight fro domination and the right to breed with the cows.  This can be a dangerous time for visitors as the bulls can be aggressive with unpredictable behavior. For your protections, please remain on the roadway and near your vehicle during the rut.

Winter in Cataloochee – Winter is a quiet time in the valley.  The elk herd retreats to the woods and may not be seen in the fields for weeks. The road can become treacherous in the snow. The road will often be closed when the snow is on the peaks around Jonathan Valley.

For directions and more information about the elk of Cataloochee Valley, download a copy of the Elk in the NC Smokies Guide or stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center 1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley for your free guide. You can also go on a fully guided eco-tour with Cataloochee Valley Tours to make the most of your elk-viewing experience.

As for now, class is dismissed so get out there and enjoy the elk!

Aug 08 2016

Fantastic Family Hikes in Haywood County

On a mission to find the perfect family hike for your next trip to Haywood County? Look no further because this week we are sharing a few of our favorite hiking excursions that have received the “family-friendly” stamp of approval.

Introducing your children to the wonders of hiking and teaching an appreciation of the great outdoors is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give them.  There is nothing more rewarding than spending a few hours (or days) in the woods taking in all that mother nature has to offer and Haywood County is great place to do just that.  Given our location – conveniently wedged between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Haywood County offers miles and miles of pristine hiking trails.  Since these trails range in difficulty and length, it can sometimes be hard to judge which ones may be best for younger hikers or even beginner adult hikers.  But no need to stress as we have taken the guess work out of it and have compiled these fantastic family hikes in Haywood County…

GRAVEYARD FIELDS

This is a popular family hiking trail because of its beauty and ease – 3.2 miles total and offers a moderate climb of almost a mile to the base of an impressive waterfalls. A map at the parking area shows the Graveyard Fields trail system. The set of steps to the right of the map is the start of the trail. After crossing the bridge, the main trail goes left and upstream. A 0.25-mile trail to the right will take you to the bottom of the Lower Falls, which is a moderate descent. Rocks around waterfalls are very slippery. The main trail will take you through open, grassy areas, and past nice pools for wading on a hot summer day. Blueberries are abundant in the late summer/early fall. After one mile, you will see the trail to the Upper Falls. The main trail crosses the Yellow stone Prong and returns to the parking lot.

Directions: This trail begins at the Graveyard Fields Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the U.S. Highway 276 junction with the parkway, turn left or south on the Parkway and continue to milepost 418.8 (about 6 miles).

DEVILS COURTHOUSE

Devil’s Courthouse, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, presides over some of the most spectacular views in the Blue Ridge Mountains. From the top of Devil’s Courthouse at 5,720 feet, visitors can see into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee in a 360-degree panorama.

Devil’s Courthouse may have received its name because of the sinister aspect of the rock formation, or because, as legend holds, the devil held court in the cave that lies beneath the rock. In Cherokee lore, this cave is the private dancing chamber and dwelling place of the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla.

Devil’s Courthouse provides habitat for a variety of rare, high-altitude plants. Some of these alpine species may be remnants from the last glacial period. Hawks, ravens, vultures, eagles, and peregrine falcons ride the hot air currents that rise from the valley.

Devils Courthouse sits at an Elevation of 5720 ft on the Blue Ridge Parkway, located at Mile Post 422.4, it includes an overlook from parking lot as well as at summit. A 20 minute walk/hike up a partially paved trail to summit & overlook, with short but fairly steep incline half way through.

From the summit you can view 4 states  –  NC, SC, GA & TN – and informative “plaques” are located at the summit’s overlook with distances to well-known peaks both near and far. There is also a picnic table near parking lot, perfect for a scenic lunch.

MAX PATCH

Easy – Moderate – This local favorite is one of the most visited hiking areas in Haywood County and a favorite among families. This unique location consists of 300+ acres of grassy bald that makes for an easier hike with sweeping, unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. The trail provides two loops to choose from: 1.4 miles and 2.4 miles. The loops guide you up and around the summit.

Directions: Take I-40 W to exit 7 (Harmon’s Den). Take a right on Cold Springs Road, and the road almost immediately becomes gravel. This usually well-graded road climbs steadily but never steeply. Follow it 6.2 miles to SR-1182 (Max Patch Rd). Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the Max Patch parking area on the right.

WATERROCK KNOB

Waterrock Knob is a must-stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located at Milepost 451.2, it features the last hiking trail along the Parkway as you travel toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This peak (6,292 feet) is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States and the the 15th highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6,000 feet. There are fantastic views both east and west from the parking area, home to a Visitors Center and restrooms. It’s one of the best places in the North Carolina mountains to watch a sunrise or sunset.

A 1.2-mile roundtrip hike will take you to the top of the summit. The steep climb gains 412 feet in elevation. While it is a short hike, the elevation gain makes it’s better for families who can conquer more rugged terrain.  But there are plenty of great views to stop and rest at along the way. The first 1/4 mile of the trail is paved, ending at a nice overlook. At the top, there are several vantage points for distant views. On a clear day, you have 50-mile views, including the highest peaks in the Smokies. You don’t  have to hike the trail to the summit to take in the excellent views of the surrounding mountains but if you’re capable of hiking a strenuous trail, then we strongly recommend it. If you can’t make the hike, take a picnic lunch and make use of the multiple tables that are provided in the “mile high” parking area.

CATALOOCHEE VALLEY

Perfect for families who may not want to hike but still take in incredible views, wildlife, and historic sites. You can see much of the valley with a simple car ride, but parking and exploring by foot offers even more rewarding experience.

The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including reintroduced wild elk (most visible at dawn and dusk), white–tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. The tranquil scenery is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing, and preserved buildings from the early 1900’s, there is plenty to explore in the valley.

Directions: The easiest way to reach Cataloochee Valley is to take 276 North (Jonathan Creek Road) off Highway 19 in Maggie Valley. Go about 6 miles and turn left onto Cove Creek Road, the last left turn before coming to 1-40 intersection. Travel on Cove Creek Road into Cataloochee Valley (see below). From 1-40: Take exit 20 towards Maggie Valley. After 1/.i mile, turn right on Cove Creek Road. Go about 13 miles to the Cataloochee Valley. The road turns into a narrow dirt road and intersects a paved road. Follow directional signs for “Cataloochee Camp Ground.” *Cove Creek Road is a steep, ten-mile, narrow, curving mountain road. There is a three-mile unpaved section leading up and over Cove Creek Gap, and then winding down the other side of the mountain. Early settlers built this road by hand in the 1800s and called it Cataloochee Turnpike. This graveled section remains as a vital reminder of Cataloochee’s history and a tribute to its builders . When you again reach pavement, turn left and enjoy your easy descent into the valley.

SEASONAL:

CALVING SEASON: LATE SPRING Most of the calves in Cataloochee and WNC are born in late May thru June. The cows hide their calves in the high grass. For safety and to avoid disturbing the calves, visitors should stay out of the fields. Cows can be aggressive in protecting their young. By late June, visitors can often see the calves up and moving with the herd.

GROWING SEASON: SUMMER The herd can often be seen grazing in the fields. Bulls are “in velvet,” rapidly growing new antlers. The calves are growing quickly and will gain as much as 140 pounds by winter.

THE RUT: FALL The mating season for elk is called the rut, which occurs from mid-September through the end of October. Large bulls bugle and fight for domination and the right to breed with the cows. This can be a dangerous time for visitors as the bulls can be aggressive with unpredictable behavior. For your protection, please remain on the roadway and near your vehicle during the rut.

WINTER IN CATALOOCHEE Winter is a quiet time in the valley. The elk herd retreats to the woods and may not be seen in the fields for weeks. The road becomes treacherous with snow. The road will often be closed when snow is on the peaks around Jonathan Valley.

If you like this story, also check out the Family Fun page and plan an unforgettable family adventure in the NC Smokies!

Aug 02 2016

Check out these wicked cool waterfalls

We love our waterfalls here in the NC Smokies.  If you combine Haywood County and it’s surrounding counties, together you’ve got almost more waterfalls than you could possibly have time for – which is why you’ll need to come back and visit several times to check them all out!  These majestic natural features are one of the most well-known calling cards of Western North Carolina.  You’ll find waterfalls ranging from large, booming falls with 100+ foot drops to smaller, hidden falls located well off the beaten path.  Each one is unique in it’s own regard and well worth the adventure of finding them.

With that said, we do want to take this opportunity to also offer a word of caution and advise you of the extreme dangers of waterfalls.  These amazing natural features can be beautiful yet dangerous if safety is not kept in mind when visiting.  Waterfalls and their surrounding terrain are very slippery and have unpredictable conditions that can result in severe accidents and even death.  When visiting these special places, please adhere to any rules posted. If no signs are posted still do not get anywhere remotely close to the edge nor climb on rocks surrounding the falls. If you practice safety and follow the rules, you are in for an wonderful adventure at our local waterfalls.

Here are a few of our wicked cool favorites…

Soco Falls

Soco Falls, located just a short walk off the main road, is a perfect way to start your scenic adventure. From Maggie Valley head up US 19 South to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cross under the Parkway and continue downhill towards Cherokee. From the Parkway, it’s 1.5 miles to a marked pull–off on the left side of the road. There’s a small blue sign indicating Soco Falls 0.5 miles ahead. The trail begins at the break in the guardrail. The short, steep trail ends at a viewing deck overlooking the falls.

Moore Cove Waterfall

Just a quick drive from Canton, NC. This plunge-type waterfall is located in one of the most popular areas of the Pisgah National Forest, near the Davidson River. It’s a delightful, beautiful walk thru fern-filled woods. And it’s easy enough for families with small children to take. This falls is highly recommended, and a hike to it can be combined with another hike in the area if you are looking for a more difficult day of hiking.

Graveyard FieldsUpperfalls

Stunning waterfalls and a distinctive landscape make Graveyard Fields one of the most popular hiking areas in the North Carolina mountains. Graveyard Fields experienced catastrophic fires in the last century, once in 1925 and again in the early 1940s. These fires swept through the area, destroying the stumps and scorching the soil enough to render it sterile. From Waynesville or Brevard: Take US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway through Pisgah National Forest, then go south on the Parkway to milepost 418.8.

Looking Glass Waterfall

Get your camera ready for this 60 foot tall waterfall that cascades down and creates a nice cooling mist. Observe Looking Glass from a viewing area at the top of the stairs. You can also take the steps down, and view the falls from a lower platform.

From intersection of US-276/US-64/NC-280, enter Pisgah National Forest. Go 5.6 miles on US-276. The falls (and parking) are on your right. Alternatively, if you’re coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, proceed south on US-276 for 9.2 miles and the falls will be on your left.

Don’t let the adventure end here.  There are plenty more waterfalls to explore in our area.  If you need some more suggestions, swing by the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd in Maggie Valley to pick up some more information on area waterfalls.  Happy exploring!

 

Jul 26 2016

Keep Cool and Think Winter

With all this talk of “Christmas in July”, I thought it might be time to jump on the bandwagon as well.  And since the majority of the country is currently experiencing a heat wave, I thought some cooling words encouragement about winter may help. We may be in the heat of summer right now, but it is never too early to start thinking winter and needless to say, Haywood County is a perfect winter getaway.

For starters, Maggie Valley is home to one of the longest running ski areas in the Southeast, Cataloochee Ski Area.  Cataloochee is located at an elevation of over 4,000 feet high on Fie Top Mountain in Maggie Valley. Cataloochee boasts 18 total slopes ready to take you on and you know the Upper Omigosh at 5,400 feet is calling your name.  Snowboarders and skiers alike can get their kicks at the Cat Cage Terrain Park, offering 10 total features to flip tricks on. You will also be happy to know that Cataloochee Ski Area reigns king for offering one of the longest running ski seasons in the region, typically opening by November 1st and running through March (weather permitting).  If you’ve got fellow winter enthusiasts in your party who aren’t quite ready to take the leap into skiing and snowboarding, Cataloochee Ski Area also offers snow tubing.  Located just down the mountain from the main ski area, Tube World offers multiple snow tubing runs that are perfect for the whole family, from the youngest snow bunny to oldest “big kid”.

If you plan your trip around the Christmas, boy are you in for some seasonal treats! There is no better family tradition than choosing and cutting your very own Christmas tree.  Sure, you could go pick one up at a lot somewhere or pull out that fake tree.  But the joy of treating your family to the timeless tradition of cutting down your Christmas tree is one to be treasured.  Haywood County is home to five “Choose n’ Cut” Christmas tree farms specializing in North Carolina Fraser Firs. Each farm has it’s own unique experience and will help you find the perfect tree to bring home for the holidays. Speaking of the holidays, make sure you also check back to our Event Calendar for upcoming holiday events, like the Waynesville’s Night Before Christmas and the Canton Christmas Parade.  Also, don’t forget WinterFest Smoky Style which takes place in February and is the perfect excuse to plan another winter getaway to the NC Smokies.

There are also a number of other awesome activities to cap off your winter getaway. Winter hiking is great this time of year as the trails are less crowded and the unobstructed views are beyond compare.  If you’re feeling thirsty, Haywood County is the proud home of four craft microbreweries, Bearwaters Brewing, Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing, and Tipping Point Brewing, each with their own unique line up of local brews. You can even find live entertainment at several them on the weekends. W also boast a long list of locally owned and operated restaurants ranging from down home cookin’ to upscale farm-to-table and beyond.  Now all you need is the perfect basecamp to launch your adventure from.  Haywood County offers a variety of accommodations from hotels and motels in the heart of the action to cozy cabins with sweeping views of the Great Smokies.  To learn more about all that Haywood County has to offer during all seasons, we invite you to explore more of our experiences and invite you to come see us soon!

Jul 18 2016

NC Smokies Summer Festival Update

Can you believe we are about half-way through the summer season? Boy, where did the time go?! I guess the old saying “Time flies when you’re having fun really is the case here in the NC Smokies.  Well the good news is that while summer may be inching a little closer towards the fall season each day, there is still plenty of summer festivals and events on the books here in the Haywood County.  In fact, this upcoming week kicks off one of Haywood County’s most popular signature events: Folkmoot USA – the official International Folk Festival of North Carolina.

Therefore, I think it is time for a summer festival and event update.  As you probably know Haywood County LOVES to throw a good party and we throw them all summer long with unique festivals and events. In fact, we keep the fun going well into the fall and are even known for hosting some pretty cool events right through the winter season.

In a nutshell, there is always something going on in the NC Smokies.  But enough about that!  Let’s get down to business and find the perfect event for you to enjoy on your next trip the NC Smokies.  And don’t forget to give us a call (800.334.9036) or check out our Event Calendar because we are always new events!

Need a place to stay?  Learn about the wide variety of accommodations available here in Haywood County and find the perfect place to launch your adventures from!

JULY

Now – 7/31:  Jesus Christ Super Star – HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville – Friday & Saturday 7:30PM; Sunday 3:00PM – harttheatre.com or 828-456-6322

7/21 – 7/31: Annual Folkmoot USA – The Official International Folk Festival of North Carolina – Performances held in Haywood & surrounding counties Folkmootusa.org or 828-452-2997

7/22: Mountain Street Dance (Folkmoot Group) – Downtown Waynesville 6:30 – 9:00 – downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517

7/22 – 7/23: WNC BBQ Festival – Maggie Valley Festival Grounds – 3374 Soco Rd. Maggie Valley – Adults: $6.00 per day or $10 for two day pass
Children: $1.00 per day – wncbbqfestival.org 800-624-4431

7/23: Main Street Folkmoot Parade – Downtown Waynesville  – All groups 10am Folkmootusa.org or 828-452-2997

7/23: Many Cultures Carnival – Folkmoot (greenspace) – 112 Virginia Avenue Waynesville – Noon till 5pm. – Group performances at 1, 2 & 3 in Queen Auditorium. Folkmootusa.org or 828-452-2997

7/24: Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival Program – Doors open 6:30pm – HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville – scm-festival.com or 828-771-3050

7/29 & 7/30: Hillbilly Jam 2016 – Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Road – hillbillyjam.com or 4828-926-1686

7/30: Folkmoot International Day – Main Street Waynesville
10am – 5pm – All groups performing – folkmootusa.org or 828-452-2997

7/31: Folkmoot Candlelight Closing – All Groups – Stuart Auditorium Lake Junaluska – folkmootusa.org or 828-452-2997

AUGUST

8/5: Art After Dark – Downtown Waynesville & Historic Frog Level – 6PM – 9PM Stroll the participating galleries – Waynesvillegalleryassociation.com

8/5: Mountain Street Dances – Downtown Waynesville 6:30 – 9:00 – downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517

8/5 – 8/21: All My Sons – HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville – Friday & Saturday 7:30PM Sunday 3:00PM – harttheatre.com or 828-456-6322

8/6: Annual Richards Run 5kCataloochee Ranch 119 Ranch Drive Maggie Valley – Arrive by 9AM. $10 registration fee – Richardsrun.org or 828-926-1401

8/6: Downtown Dog WalkDowntown Waynesville & Courthouse Lawn 9:30AM – 1PM – Sargeandfriends.org or 828-246-9050

8/6 & 8/7: Lake Logan Multisport Fest – 154 Suncrest Mill Road Canton 7AM – gloryhoundevents.com/lake-logan-multisport-fest/

8/12: Darin & Brook Aldridge @ The StrandTheater – 38 N. Main Street Waynesville, NC – 18.00 8PM show – 38main.com  or 828-283-0079

8/12 &  8/13: Smokin Rods in the Smokies – Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Road – 8AM  – 4PM both days, $5 admission for spectators – vsra-usa.com or 423-571-6430

8/19 – 8/21: Maggie Valley Summer Rally – Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Road – Maggievalleyrallys.com or 336-643-1367

8/20: Blue Ridge Breakaway – Lake Junaluska –  Begins 7:30 & 7:45AM – blueridgebreakaway.com or 828-456-3021

8/20: Waynesville Craft Beer Faire – American Legion Field, 171 Legion Drive Waynesville – Noon – 5pm  828-456-8691 or waynesvillebeer.com

8/20: An Evening with Lorraine Conard & Friends @ The Strand – 38 N. Main Street Waynesville, NC – $18.00 8PM show – 38main.com  or 828-283-0079                                                                            

8/21: Haywood Community Band Concert – Maggie Valley Pavilion 3987 Soco Road – 6:30PM FREE – haywoodcommunityband.org or 828-456-4880

8/24 – 8/28: Annual Haywood County Fair – 758 Crabtree Road, Haywood County Fairgrounds – haywoodcountyfairgrounds.org or 828-456-3575

8/26: Waynesville’s Main Street MileDowntown Waynesville Area – 6:30 PM – Unbrokenseries.com/mainstreetmile or (828) 738-5190

8/26 – 9/11: One Slight Hitch – HART Theatre 250 Pigeon Street Waynesville – Friday & Saturday 7:30PM Sunday 3:00PM – harttheatre.com or 828-456-6322

8/27: Smokey Mountain Summer Concert – Maggie Valley Festival Grounds 3374 Soco Road – 9AM – 10PM Music starts at 11AM – Admission $25 at the gate, $20 in advance at sonnyproductionsmerchandise.com; 336-643-1367

SEPTEMBER

9/2: Art After Dark – Downtown Waynesville & Historic Frog Level – 6PM – 9PM Stroll the participating galleries – Waynesvillegalleryassociation.com

9/2 – 9/3: 46th Annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival91 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska – 9/2 6PM – 9/3 11PM – Smoky Mountain Folk Festival – 828-452-1688

9/4 – 9/5: 110th Labor Day Festival – Sorrells St. Park – Canton – 9/4  1PM – 11PM; 9/5 10AM – 10PM – cantonlaborday.com – 828-648-2363

Jul 11 2016

Why You Should Weekday Vacay…

Weekends are great, there is no doubt about that! There is nothing better than the feeling you get on Friday evening knowing you’ve got two full days to adventure as you please. We get it. Weekends in the NC Smokies are awesome. But I also want to focus on all the fun that can be had in Haywood County during the week.  You may be surprised at just how much you might enjoy a weekday getaway in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains.  So if our beautiful mountains aren’t enough to entice you to take off a few extra days, here are few more reasons why you should consider packing your bags for a week-long getaway in Haywood County.

Reason 1: First and foremost – Less crowds!

This reigns true for many destinations, but Haywood County is definitely a highly sought after weekend getaway.  Our close proximity to many major cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Greenville make us one of the closest Smoky Mountain escapes to get to, perfect for a quick weekend away. But a weekday stay can offer a quieter, more relaxing experience.  Attractions, hiking trails, waterfall areas, downtown districts and more are less crowded, restaurants have shorter wait times or may not require reservations at all, and the amount of traffic is way down. Weekday travel is especially welcome during peak times of the year like summer and fall. Some people may not mind the crowds, but if you’re trying to escape the hustle and bustle, you’ll be glad you booked your next trip to the NC Smokies during the week.

If some quiet R&R is what you crave, a weekday stay may be just the ticket

Reason 2: More Availability and Potentially Lower Rates

If you’re budget-minded (which who isn’t these days?) or dealing with a tight schedule, you may want to consider a weekday stay in Haywood County.  As with most weekend-centric destinations, rates tend to run higher on weekends and availability is at a premium.  But if you have the flexibility to travel during the week, chances are you can snag a lower rate on accommodations and have much more selection to pick from.  This is particularly true for those last-minute getaways!  You can start perusing from all our great hotels, motels, inns, B&B, resorts, ranches, cabins, condos, campgrounds and vacation homes here: Haywood County Accommodations.

Tubing down one of our rivers is a fun adventure you can enjoy at anytime during the week!

Reason 3: An Abundance of Adventure to Discover

Many attractions and popular areas can often be very crowded on the weekends, which for some folks can take away from their experience in the Smokies. Some people prefer crowds, whiles others do not, so based on your preference, you may choose to discover the adventures of Haywood County during the week. Weekdays offer most of the same experiences as weekends, just on a more low-key level.  A perfect example is elk viewing in Cataloochee Valley.  This popular activity can be just that – popular, especially during certain times like the fall bugling season. On weekends, particularly during dawn and dusk, the remote valley often welcomes dozens (or more) of cars carrying visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the wild elk who inhabit the area.  Weekdays are a great alternative as there are often less crowds and congestion in the valley, making for prime elk-viewing opportunities.

There is also a common misconception that there isn’t as much going on during the week in Haywood County.  Not true! There is an abundance of adventure to be discovered. It may be a little quieter but there is more than enough to keep you busy. You can pick up fresh produce or locally made products at one of our farmers markets or roadside stands, listen to live music at certain restaurants and breweries, catch a movie at the Strand at 38 Main, or just take in a beautiful sunset from one of our many overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The possibilities are really endless, you just have to be pointed in the right direction which is what we are here for! Stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd in Maggie Valley or call us 800.334.9036 to plan you weekday adventure!  You can also request a free visitor guide to get a jump start on your vacation plans.

Jul 01 2016

Get your toe tappin’ in the NC Smokies

BanjoOne of the biggest requests we get from visitors to the area (which is partially due to our deep Appalachian musical roots) is “Where can I check out authentic local music?”  Well my friends, you have come to the the right place. If you are in search of fresh local music, because Haywood County, NC has it!  And we’re not just talking about bluegrass – although our heritage in this genre has gained all of Haywood County a well-earned destination on the Blue Ridge Music Trails – but we’ve got tons of venues offering music to get just about anyone’s toe-tappin’ to the beat.

You’ll find bluegrass music galore, from impromptu jam sessions to sold out performances by Haywood’s own award-winning boys of bluegrass, Balsam Range. You can check out cool jazz in an underground wine cellar, fun, eclectic folk bands tearing it up at our local breweries, and that is just the start. Regardless of what you love to listen to, Haywood County has a hangout for you.  So without further adieau, here is well-rounded set list of Haywood County hot spots where you can get your jam on….

Thursday Only

Friday Only

  • Pickin’ in the ParkCanton Rec Park 77 Penland Street
7 – 10 PM FREE cantonnc.com or 828-648-2363

Friday & Saturday

Weekly Scheduled

  • The Strand @ 38 Main – 38 N. Main Street Waynesville – 38main.com 828-283-0079
  • Bear Waters Brewing130 Frazier Street Waynesville bwbrewing.com
Call 828-246-0602 for more info.
  • Frog Level Brewing56 Commerce Street Waynesville froglevelbrewing.com
Call 828-454-5664 for more info.
  • Salty Dog Seafood & Grill3567 Soco Road Maggie Valley Call 828-926-9105 for more info.
  • Southern Porch 117 Main Street Canton
Call 828-492-8006 for more info. facebook.com/southernporchkandd/timeline
  • Maggie Valley Opry House3605 Soco Road Maggie Valley
$12 Admission 8PM Show Closed Sunday raymondfairchild.com or 828-926-9336

Don’t forget to also check the Visit NC Smokies Event Calendar regularly for concerts and other special events!

 

Jun 30 2016

Wet and Wild Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

The heat of summer is on and there is no better way to beat it than by heading to the cool, refreshing Smoky Mountains of Haywood County, NC.  There are so many reasons why Haywood is the best vacation spot to cool off in during the summer, so we’ll just throw out a few of our favs.  For starters, Haywood County has 25 total mountain peaks soaring to elevations of over 6,000 feet which makes it the county with the highest mean elevation east of the Rocky Mountains.  And we all know the higher the elevation the cooler it gets, so start climbing!

Haywood County is also one of the only “headwater” counties in the state, meaning all of our rivers, creeks, and streams are our own.  They originate high in our mountains and flow down to the communities below before moving out of the county to other areas.  None of our water flows in – meaning we have some of the freshest and coldest natural waters around!

So with that said, we thought we’d round up the wettest and wildest ways to beat the heat this summer while you visit Haywood County.  We hope you enjoy these epic cool downs on your next trip to the NC Smokies!

Take a dip in a local swimming hole

We’ve all cooled off at the neighborhood swimming pool but you haven’t truly cooled off until you have taken a leap into one of Haywood County’s natural swimming holes.  Swimming holes are natural pools of water created by our local streams and rivers that are perfect for swimming.  Haywood County is home to many awesome swimming spots, so we will just share a few of our favorites.

  • Sunburst Swimming Hole Hwy 215 South from Canton, just a couple miles above Lake Logan on the Pigeon River – With easy access right on Hwy 215 going towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sunburst is one of the easiest swimming holes to get to with plenty of parking. It’s the perfect spot to unload a cooler and grill, due to the easy access.  You’ll find an upper and lower swimming hole, as well as plenty of rocks and beach areas to relax. Sunburst Campground is located across the road and offers a great picnic area.
  • Skinny Dip Falls Milepost 417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway – The trail head is located across the road from the Looking Glass Overlook parking area – Don’t let the name fool you – clothing is strongly suggested at this popular swimming hole!  Located high up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this picturesque, not to mention very cold, swimming hole offers several jumps and great places to wade in more shallow waters. The beautiful setting alone is worth the short hike down to the hole.
  • Graveyards Fields Mile marker 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway – The perfect combination of hiking and swimming.  This 3.2 mile hike offers multiple waterfall features and swimming areas to splash around in. The is a very popular hiking area so make sure you plan for heavier crowds on hot summer days.

 A word of caution, as these swimming areas are often remotely located and do not offer the reassurance of a lifeguard on duty.  Please swim and jump at your own risk.  We advise you to always do your research on the particular hole you plan to visit and test the waters before jumping – NEVER dive, as you may not be aware of how shallow the water is.  But if you keep safety in mind, spending the day cooling off at one of theses area swimming holes will be a blast!

Play in the Water at Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska is known for it’s beautiful setting but it also offers many ways to cool off on a hot summer day. The Lake Junaluska Aquatic Center is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. The center is open to the public and includes an outdoor pool and boat rentals. Boats include canoes, kayaks and pedal boats and stand up paddle board rentals, so take your pick of watery adventure!  Daily and weekly pool passes, boat and equipment rentals may be purchased at the Lake Junaluska Rec Hut, located next to the Kern Center. If you’re staying at Lake Junaluska, pool admission is FREE for lodging guests.  You can’t beat that!

Tackle a Trout on the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters – And by tackle, we mean with a tackle box! Purchase a 3-day, $5.00 fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This special 3-day license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday – Friday, 8am-5pm at 888-248-6834.  Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box? Don’t fret! Stop by the Maggie Valley Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd. and pick up a free tackle box filled with lures/flies and you can borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod.  Just put down a deposit for $5.00, which you will get back when you return the poles, and grab a Mountain Heritage Trout Water map. And guess what? The tackle box is yours to keep so get out there and hit the streams!

Go on an Epic Waterfall Quest – Western North Carolina is home to hundreds of waterfall, and there is no exception here in Haywood County.  You can check out these many waterfalls located in and around on Haywood County while you’re here. While some of our falls may be a little off the beaten path, they are well worth the quest!

You can also take the “Waterfalls Ride” starting in Maggie Valley to experience the most easily accessible falls in the area.  As with swimming holes, we ask that you to please practice caution when visiting these beautiful place and do not climb or walk on or near a waterfall due to VERY slippery conditions.

We don’t know about you, but just reading about all these wet and wild adventures is already starting to cool us off.  Now it’s your turn! Plan your visit to the NC Smokies and get ready for one of the most memorable cool downs around!

Jun 23 2016

Where to Celebrate Independence Day

There is nothing more American than an epic 4th of July celebration.  Fireworks and family fun are what great Independence Day’s are made of and  you’ll find just that and much more this 4th of July in the NC Smokies. With not just one, but multiple celebrations taking place across Haywood County, you’ll have plenty to choose from.  Pair that with countless opportunities for a fresh mountain adventure and you have a pretty awesome holiday weekend in store for you here in Haywood County.

Lake Junaluska Independence Day Celebration – July 1 – 4

The Lake Junaluska Independence Day Celebrations include concerts by the award-winning bluegrass group Balsam Range and the Lake Junaluska Singers, fireworks, and other family activities. Packages and individual concert tickets available for purchase. www.LakeJunaluska.com/july4th 800-222-4930

Stars and Stripes Celebration – July 4 – Downtown Waynesville

Celebrate the 4th of July in small town America! The restaurants and shops are open and live music and entertainment will be located throughout the district and courthouse lawn. “Kids on Main” patriotic children’s parade starts at the historic Haywood County Courthouse and proceeds down Main Street at 11:00 am. Parade registration begins at 10:00 am on the courthouse lawn. Haywood Community Band patriotic concert on the courthouse lawn at 2:00. Great family fun for all ages! Visit: http://www.downtownwaynesville.com/calendar.html.

Maggie Valley Red, White, and Boom Celebration – July 4 – Maggie Valley Festival Ground

Bring the family and watch the valley come alive with beautiful fireworks.  There is nothing quite like the booms from a fireworks show in Maggie Valley. The show will begin at dark but make sure you get there early for a good seat.  Visit: http://maggievalley.org/events-in-the-valley/.

Canton’s Fourth of July PLUS One – July 5 – Sorrells Street Park – Canton

With two major firework displays taking place on the 4th of July, the town of Canton stands out with their own beautiful display the day FOLLOWING on the 5th of July.  Keep the patriotic fun going with this special celebration along the banks of the Pigeon River at the Sorrells Street Park in downtown. Visit: http://www.cantonnc.com/node/546.

We hope you have a safe and happy Fourth of July here in the NC Smokies! For more info or questions about what to do while you’re here, call us – 800-334-9036 or stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley, NC 28751.

Photos courtesy of Lake Junaluska Conference and Event Center

hiking and outdoors in Haywood County NC
Jun 21 2016

Five Authentic “Must-Sees” in Haywood County

There is something very special about the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Some say its the majestic rolling mountains and their beckoning call to be explored, while others say its the down-home friendly folks who give you the feeling like you’ve known them for years. Or perhaps it is the time-honored traditions that are soaked to the bone in rich southern Appalachian heritage.  There is just something about Haywood County and its five welcoming towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, & Lake Junaluska that guarantee you’ll find an authentic experience unlike any where else.  Like the rivers and streams that originate high in our mountains and flow out, you take that feeling with you beyond Haywood County and keep it with you throughout your travels. That “something” is why folks keep coming back, time after time. So the next time you find yourself amidst the rolling Appalachians of Haywood County, check out these five authentic “Must-See” attractions.

1.) Visit the Birthplace of the Great Smoky Mountain Elk in Cataloochee Valley

Hundreds of years ago, the majestic elk population once roamed freely across Southern Appalachia but due to over-hunting and loss of habitat they disappeared entirely. But that is no longer to the case thanks to the reintroduction of the elk in 2001 to Cataloochee Valley.  The pristine valley, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has become the home to hundreds of elk that thrive and roam freely in the valley.  Here you can witness these marvelous creatures in their natural habitat, which can be seen most prominently at dawn and dusk. But the elk aren’t the only draw to Cataloochee Valley. Once a pioneer settlement, the valley is dotted with historic sites and preserved buildings to explore, including a pristine creek and multiple hiking trails to enjoy. Want to get the most out of your experience? Take a private eco-tour with Cataloochee Valley Tourswww.cataloocheevalleytours.com.

2.) Meet the Official North Carolina State Dog at PlottFest

As the proud home the official North Carolina State Dog, the Plott Hound, Haywood County celebrates the breed each year at PlottFest, which takes place in Maggie Valley every June. The Plott Family, who settled here in the early 1800’s, developed and bred the Plott Hound for over 200 years. Known for their big game hunting skills, they are known as strong, courageous dogs and loyal companions. PlottFest takes place every June as a two-day music and heritage event with hundreds of Plott dogs on site.

Did you miss the festival? No worries, because there are other ways to learn more the Plott family and their famous hounds. The popularity of the Plotts led to the creation of “The Plott Dog Trail in Maggie Valley”.  This loop trail traces the history and heritage of the Plotts with 18 stops throughout Maggie Valley. The trail, which has been combined with the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters map, provides visitors and locals with a unique activity exclusive only to Haywood County.

There is also a brand new hiking guide availabile exclusively in Haywood County – The Blackrock Mountain Guide – which takes you on an adventure through the Plott Balsam mountain range, named for the very family who left such a lasting legacy with their dogs. You can pick this beautifully illustrated guide up for FREE at the Haywood County Visitor Center.

3.) Enjoy the “Art” of Hiking

In addition to the Blackrock Mountain hiking guide, you can also explore two other year-round accessible hikes, Purchase Knob and Sam’s Summits Loop Trail, in a way you can only experience in Haywood County. These maps were created by the very same certified naturalist, Ken Czarnomski, who created the Blackrock guide. With two distinct locations, Purchase Knob borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Sam’s Summit borders the Blue Ridge Parkway. Both trails offer summer wildflower abundance, native wildlife, historical significance, and incredible scenic views. Ken’s artistic passion for hiking helped him create these two uniquely illustrated guides that are available exclusively in Haywood County.  His desire to share the joys of hiking with the general public fueled the project and inspired many to discover the ease and enjoyment of hiking for the first time through this special map.  The guide, which also doubles as a work of art, provides an experience unlike any other in the area.  Free maps are available at the Haywood County Visitor Center in Maggie Valley or by request – 1-800-334-9036.

4.) Traverse one of the most Southern Ski Areas in the Southeast

It may be summer, but it’s never too early to start planning your winter ski getaway! Historically one of the first ski areas to open in the Southeast (November 1st or before) and one of the last to close for the season, Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley is in a category of its own.  Don’t let the fact that it is one of the most southern ski areas in the southeast fool you. With an elevation of 5,400 ft and 18 slopes and trails ranging from beginner to expert, the ski area provides challenging fun for the entire family. Even if you aren’t a skier but still love a fun winter adventure, Tube World, will bring back memories of sledding as a child or create them for your own little ones.  Visit www.cataloochee.com for more information and to plan your trip.

5.) Visit the Scariest (Sounding) Points on the Blue Ridge Parkway

They may sound scary, but don’t let the names fool you.  Located within just a few miles of each other on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, Devil’s Courthouse and Graveyard Fields are anything but a spooky experience.

Located at milepost 422, Devil’s Courthouse is believed to take its name from both its sinister rock formations and the legend that the devil held court in the cave that lies beneath the rock.  Local Cherokee lore believes the cave is the private chamber of the slant-eyed giant, Judaculla. A short, 20-minute uphill hike will take you to the overlook summit at 5,720 feet, where you will find some of the most long-range scenic views on the parkway, including views of South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Located just north at milepost 418 is Graveyard Fields, which is surrounded by much speculation on how its name came to be. One belief is it developed from a tremendous windstorm that uprooted the spruce forest that left behind stumps that gave the area the appearance of a graveyard. Another theory believes that logging in the early 20th century left tree stumps resembling gravestones. However, due to massive forest fires in the last century, the stumps were destroyed and the soil scorched enough to render it sterile.  Despite this, it remains one of the most popular hiking areas on the parkway due to easily accessible waterfall features and incredible flora and fauna, including abundant blackberry, gooseberry and blueberry bushes throughout.  For help planning your Blue Ridge Parkway experience visit www.blueridgeparkway.org.


Want to see these local treasures for yourself? Order your free Visitor’s Guide today, and start exploring all the great places to stay in Haywood County on our lodging page. See you soon!

Jun 14 2016

Local Naturalist Releases Third Hiking Guide

It is with much anticipation and excitement that local naturalist Ken Czarnomski in partnership with the the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority announces the release of the third installment in a series unique local hiking guides – The Blackrock Mountain Hiking Guide. The partnership between Ken and the TDA came together in 2013 with an idea to create a one-of-a-kind Haywood County specific hiking guide, starting with the Purchase Knob hiking guide.  The map was so popular that Ken followed up with a second, Sam’s Summits Loop Trail, and now the latest: the Blackrock Mountain Hiking Guide. Located along the Balsam Ridge area of the Plott Balsams in Haywood County, the guide leads hiking enthusiasts on a 4.6 mile adventure that has the ability to be extended into as much as a 10.8 mile hike if preferred.   “I have worked closely with Ken from his very first guide until now and have personally hiked with him several times. I can honestly say he is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated naturalists in this area, who has a deep passion for our mountains. I am proud of his continued efforts to expose people to the joys of hiking,” says Anna Jorstad, Communications Manager for the Haywood County TDA.

The latest guide was of particular interest to Ken due to the trail’s relationship to local land conservation efforts and the special history of the Plott Balsams. Ken was first enticed by this area in the year 2000 when he visited Waterrock Knob (near to the entrance of the trailhead for Blackrock) in the height of fall on one of those exceptionally crisp “Carolina Blue” sky days. At the time, the trail to Blackrock was overgrown and unmaBlackrock to Waterrock No1rked, but now sixteen years later, the Blackrock Mountain trail is now maintained by the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy.  “Two years ago, I approached Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy for permission to map there. In 2015, they approved the effort (due to insurances, etc.). Later, they put me in touch with Bill Holman, NC Director of The Conservation Fund, who was really knowledgeable about the local conservation efforts.” Once Ken got the green light to move forward with his project he began his journey to do what he loves so well – hiking, cataloging, and mapping out his beautiful guide.  The map is hand drawn and illustrated by Ken himself, which includes impeccable attention to detail.  He also spends a great deal of time researching the history of the area, including information on the guide about the conservation efforts of this area. “This map is important to me because I believe many people are unaware of just how crucial conservation efforts actually are. I wanted to inform people about the fact that if we want to protect our local heritage and have a land legacy in the future, conservation efforts play a major role,” says Ken.

The area Ken highlighted in the guide – the Balsam Mountain Range – is Plottfest2014-27 copyhome to a significant part of Haywood County heritage, the Plott Balsams.  The Plott family, who settled in the area just prior to the 1790’s, brought with them thoroughbred hounds of German descent. The Plotts bred the lineage and trained them to hunt large game, like black bears.  The tradition of this breed has continued and Plott Hounds are now one of the most sought after big game hunting dogs in the country.  The breed is also appropriately dubbed as the official state dog of North Carolina, proudly hailing from Haywood County.  The history of the hound is celebrated every June at PlottFest in Maggie Valley, NC.  Because of the Plott family’s contribution of these great dogs, a portion of the Balsam Mountain Range was named the Plott Balsams.  The new guide includes the history of the family and the dog, as well as information about the actual mountain range. This is one of the aspects that makes Ken’s guides stand out from others – they include both a detailed hiking map and the intriguing history and information about the actual mountains you are exploring.

Blackrock Formation no2With PlottFest taking place June 18 – 19, the guides have been released just in time for the annual celebration.  Guides will be available for free at the festival and can also be obtained at the Haywood County Visitor Center in Maggie Valley. “We are pleased to be offering the Blackrock Mountain map at PlottFest 2016,” says Amy Spivey, co-founder of PlottFest. “The map is a great addition to our festival and an asset for visitors to the area.  The maps are beautiful and informative.  I appreciate that they will assist our guests as they explore the splendor of the mountains,” says Amy.

For more information on the guides or to pick up your own copy of the free Blackrock Mountain Hiking Guide, stop by the Haywood County Visitor Center at 1110 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley, NC 28751.

Jun 06 2016

And the winner of the “Gateway to the Smokies” Quilt Block is…

CONGRATULATIONS to Brenda O’Keefe, owner of Joey’s Pancake House as the winner of the “Gateway to the Smokies” quilt block raffle! The drawing for the block was held at the Haywood County Visitor Center on Thursday, June 2nd when a visitor from Arizona was chosen to do the honor of randomly pulling the winning ticket. Brenda O’Keefe was the lucky name on the winning ticket and the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority staff presented her with the block at her restaurant. The block will be installed on the exterior of Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley so that both patrons of the restaurant and the general public can enjoy this beautiful piece of Haywood County heritage.

To visit the block and enjoy a stack of their famous pancakes, you can find Joey’s Pancake House at 4309 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751.

The TDA would like thank everyone who purchased a raffle ticket as it helped raise money to further the efforts of the Haywood County Quilt Trail.  To learn more, please contact the TDA – 828-944-0761. The TDA looks forward to continuing the expansion of the popular trail with new quilt block additions in the coming months.
Visit the Haywood County Quilt Trail website to learn more about the featured blocks: www.haywoodquilttrails.com.

May 26 2016

White Water Rafting Adventures in Haywood County

Haywood County, North Carolina offers an abundance of white water rafting opportunities. When you stay in Haywood County, you are centrally located to some of the best white water rafting in the Great Smoky Mountains!

Popular White Water Rafting Rivers:

Nantahala River: The most well-known white water rafting river in North Carolina is the Nantahala river. This dam-controlled river offers flat sections of water for floating, as well as 20 different class II and class III rapids. It’s located in Bryson City, North Carolina, which is about an hour drive from most locations in Haywood County, making it perfect for a day trip!

Pigeon River: The Pigeon river is located just a short drive from Haywood County near the Tennessee/North Carolina line. It is divided into two sections for whitewater rafting: the Upper Pigeon River and the Lower Pigeon River. The Upper Pigeon river offers challenging whitewater rafting with class III and class IV rapids. The Lower Pigeon river is more suited for family whitewater rafting adventures and has areas of flat water with more gentle rapids.

French Broad River: The French Broad is also just an hour drive from Haywood County. The river starts in Tennessee and runs through Hot Springs and Marshal North Carolina. Outfitters offer both half day trips and full day tips on the river, which includes class II and III rapids.

In addition to the Nantahala, Pigeon and French Broad, visitors to Haywood County can also enjoy spending a day floating down the rapids of the Tuckaseegee, Ocoee, Chatooga, Nolichucky and Cheoah rivers.

Head on over to our Whitewater Rafting in North Carolina webpage and check out some of the local outfitters who can help you plan your next white water adventure!

May 23 2016

Meet the State Dog of NC – The Plott Hound

Have you ever had the privilege of meeting a Plott Hound? No?  Well you’re missing out because they are not only amazing dogs but they are an important part of the history of Haywood County.  Known for their keen tracking skills, Plotts have left their mark in the Southern Appalachians as tried and true hunting dogs and loyal companions for over 200 years.  The Plott Hound’s big game hunting skills and gritty nature have gained them notoriety as a highly sought after breed. Due to its North Carolina roots, specifically in Haywood County, the Plott was named the official state dog of North Carolina in 1989 and will be celebrated at PlottFest in Maggie Valley.  PlottFest, which runs June 18th – 19th, enters into its fifth year celebrating the Plott Hound with a two-day music and heritage event. In just five short years, the festival has grown from a one-day music festival with less than 10 dogs to a multi-day event featuring world class musicians and over 200 Plott Hounds anticipated on site this year. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, go to www.plottfest.org.

So how did the Plott Hound find its way to Haywood County?  By way of Germany!  In the mid 1700’s, a pair of  young brothers form Germany, Johannes George Plott and his brother, emigrated from Heidelberg, Germany to Philadelphia.  The brothers brought with them a group of Hanoverian hounds.  Johannes’ brother died during the voyage but Johannes arrived in Philadelphia in 1750 with his dogs. He then found his way to New Bern, NC and then on to Cabarrus County. He met his wife Margaret and they bought a farm together.  They began a family and of course, began raising hunting dogs. It has been said that he kept his strain entirely pure, making no out-crosses. In 1780, the Plott Hounds were passed to his son, Henry.

Henry, along with his wife Lydia, settled along the Pigeon River in Haywood County in the early 1800’s, near where the town of Canton is now located.  After spending some time in this area, they moved farther west and settled permanently in a section between Richland and Dick’s Creek, which is now referred to as the Plott Creek area.  Henry and his pack of Plotts were often called in to help his neighbors rid their farms of wildlife that attacked the livestock, thus bringing more notice to their keen hunting skills.  Today, Plotts can be found in many different colors. There are buckskins, blacks, brindles, browns, reds, and combination of any of these colors. Plotts are hardy and have superior hunting instincts. They are very effective in the search for coyotes, wolves, and wildcats. The breed was carefully developed to be strong, courageous and persistent.  It was initially used as a wild boar hound, but has also been used for big game hunting.

Because of the Plott family and their hounds, the U. S. Park Service named three peaks in the Balsam Mountain range as the Plott Balsams and erected a sign  along the Blue Ridge Parkway, known as the Plott Balsam Overlook, honoring them.  It reads “Before you lies the massive Plott Balsam Range. On one of its eastern slopes Henry Plott, a German immigrant’s son, made his home in the early 1800′s. In this game-filled frontier, hunting dogs were a prized possession. Here Henry Plott and his descendants developed the famous Plott Bear Hounds carefully selecting for the qualities of stamina, courage, and alertness the breed possesses today.”

For the next 200 years the dogs were bred by generations of Plott family members.  The dogs worked at hunting bear and raccoon throughout the Appalachians and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Plott family rarely put the dogs on the market so they remained rare outside the southern United States until now.  If you’re interested in making a Plott part of your family, make sure you attend PlottFest this weekend. Along with meeting Plott owners and breeders, The Wayward Plotts, an organization devoted to rescuing abandoned Plott hounds from shelters, will have a booth on site so make sure you stop by.

Highlights of the 2016 Festival include:

  • A UKC sanctioned bench show sponsored by the National Plott Hound Association
  • Mechanical bay events sponsored by the American Plott Association
  •  A youth Plott show with all participants receiving awards
  • Special awards for “King and Queen” Plott
  • Agility demonstrations by champion Plott Hounds and search and rescue Plotts
  • Trout fishing instruction for youth by Hunter Banks
  • Demonstrations of blacksmithing, canning, carving and more
  • An expanded Children’s area with inflatable attractions
  • Arts and Craft vendors, dog supply vendors and food vendors
  • Antique trucks, tractors and hayride
  • Musical Performances by Balsam Range, Blue Highway, The Lonesome River Band, Milan Miller and Buddy Melton, Sam Lewis, Jon Byrd, The Dismembered Tennesseans, Eddie Rose and Highway 40, Carolina Blue and The Carolina Express.

See you at PlottFest!!

Photo by Rachael McIntosh, courtesy of Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon
May 19 2016

Embark on an epic “Agri-Adventure” in Haywood County

Feature photo by Rachael McIntosh, courtesy of Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon

Can you imagine a place where farmers grow hundreds of acres of fresh produce, graze cattle, raise shrubs, trees, herbs, and bees—create dozens of value added products like Peach Shine Jam & Rainbow Trout Caviar—while embodying the character of a rural community?  This is Haywood County, NC…where you can embark on the the most epic “agri-adventure” ever!

Haywood County is well known for providing some of the most authentic agritourism offerings in Western North Carolina. From picking your own bushel of berries and meandering through some of the best farmers markets in the region to meeting local bison and other unique on-farm residents (like llamas, mini-horses, goats, bunnies and more) and relaxing at the end of the day with a delicious farm to table dinner and a cool craft beer (made with locally grown hops, of course).  You can find all of this AND MORE in Buy Haywood’s 2016 “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide! Printed guides are free and can be found at locations across Haywood County including the Haywood County Visitor Center, Haywood Chamber of Commerce and other sites throughout the county.  Locations listed at www.BuyHaywood.com.

The 2016 Agritourism Guide has been designed to appeal to the vibrant and diverse traveler, like you —from empty nesters to modern families. This unique and popular publication crisscrosses Haywood offering year round opportunities to enjoy a variety of experiences celebrating our rich farming and agricultural heritage.

Photo courtesy of Buy Haywood

The 2016 Guide includes: farmer and tailgate markets, roadside stands, on farm markets, U Pick farms, specialty retail shops, rustic hospitality venues, historic preservation and local gardens, Christmas tree farms, plant nurseries, a 2016 Calendar of heritage related events, a listing of farm-to-table restaurant and other local flavor entertainment spots. The guide also features a spectacular hand drawn map of Haywood County by local naturalist, Ken Czarnomski, breathtaking photos by Ed Kelley, and a delicious Summer Fruit Salsa recipe from Chef Jackie Blevins of Perfectly Seasoned.

Make sure you stop by and pick up your guide today.  Come see us at the Haywood County Visitor Center – 1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751.  Or you can even download a digital copy here.

Buy Haywood is a project of the Haywood Advancement Foundation. Agritourism efforts receive vital support the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Bethel Rural Community Organization, Haywood County Tourism Authority and other stakeholders.

Photo courtesy of Buy Haywood

Apr 25 2016

The Landscaping of Lake Junaluska: A Shared Labor of Love

The Landscaping of Lake Junaluska: A Shared Labor of Love
By Amy P. Walker

Every year thousands of visitors from around the world are awed and inspired by the beauty of the Lake Junaluska gardens. From the historic Rose Walk to the sedum garden of Inspiration Point, the horticultural surprises are never ending.

What does it take to plant and maintain these glorious grounds? According to the Lake Junaluska landscaping team, it’s a labor of love that’s shared by staff members, volunteers and donors for the enjoyment of all.

The landscaping team numbers two full-time horticulturalists, Landscape Manager Roddy Ray and Landscape Assistant Donna Ewart, and two part-time seasonal employees. Ray has been a landscaper with Lake Junaluska for 24 years, while Ewart, who is also a certified forester, joined the team three years ago.

Both graduates of Haywood Community College’s horticultural program, the two women had ties with Lake Junaluska long before they were employees. Ray grew up attending summer Bible school at Lake Junaluska, while Ewart often brought her family to walk and play on the grounds.

The landscaping team is responsible for about 800 acres, which includes the Rose Walk, eight gardens and 42 flower beds. Ray and Ewart make their rounds with their hand tools in an E-Z-GO Workhorse golf cart that was purchased for the landscaping department by the Junaluska Associates. They work closely with the Lake Junaluska grounds and mowing crew, who provide enormous support.

The landscaping team spends winter pruning back the grounds. Then, between the end of February and April, Ray and Ewart grow all the plants that they will use on the grounds. Maximizing every inch of a 40-by-70-foot greenhouse and a small cold frame, they annually raise seven thousand coleus plants and seven thousand annual and perennial plants, the majority of which go into the ground. Extras are grown for their annual plant sale in May, the proceeds of which help to subsidize the landscaping budget.

“Roddy is why the budget works,” said Ewart. “She stretches it so that we get real bang for our buck.”

The team grows plants by division or from cuttings, plugs, seeds and bulbs. When the plugs arrive via mail, 528 to a tray, they must be potted right away.

“By April, the greenhouse is packed,” said Ray. “It’s a juggling act.”

Water, soil and pots are used sparingly and recycled when possible, resulting in minimal waste. Cuttings are taken and propagated in September, ready for the next year when they will become the mother plants.

Due to the enormity of the task, Lake Junaluska contracts a group of landscapers to help with the annual planting in May. Once Ray and Ewart have placed all the greenhouse-grown plants in the gardens and beds to which they are assigned, the contractors follow behind and put the plants in the ground. The process takes about a week and a half. When the greenhouse is empty and planting season is over, Ray and Ewart turn their attention to weeding, watering and maintaining the grounds.

Care and maintenance of the grounds is where volunteers and donors make their greatest contributions. Volunteers include Lake Junaluska homeowners, the Junaluska Associates, community members, and local and national organizations such as NOMAD. Many homeowners and community members participate in the Adopt-A-Spot program in which small groups adopt a Lake Junaluska location and care for it by weeding beds, deadheading plants and picking up trash.

“We simply couldn’t do our job without the volunteers,” said Ray. “We’ve had hundreds of volunteers over the years. And the homeowners, many of whom are master gardeners, are huge in making the place work.”

Donors allow the landscaping team to continue their work beyond the bounds of their budget. Both groups and individuals make donations that Ray applies to wherever there is the greatest need. She also makes sure that donors get a thank you letter for their tax-deductible donations. Historically, the Junaluskans provide the funds necessary to maintain the historic Rose Walk, which can cover anything from pine needles for mulch to chemicals and fertilizers.

During the fall, Ray and Ewart scout the grounds every other day, looking for the telltale signs of insect-related diseases. In doing so, they get to know the cycle of insects, which chemicals to apply and when to apply them. Both Ray and Ewart are licensed in the use of commercial pesticides, and Ray is responsible for training the landscaping and grounds staff in commercial pesticide safety.

Whether weeding beds, potting plugs or giving a garden tour, Ray and Ewart love the work they do and the opportunity to wow visitors with their horticultural skills.

“We’re always learning,” said Ray. “New plants are constantly evolving, which means new ways of doing things. Also, it’s a blessing and a morale booster that there’s always someone thanking us while we work. That’s why we love to thank our volunteers with roses. It plain makes us feel good.”

For more information on Lake Junaluska landscaping, contact Roddy Ray at rray@lakejunaluska.com or 828-454-6774. The annual plant sale takes place May 2, 4 and 6, 2016 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Lake Junaluska Greenhouse, 82 Sleepy Hollow Road, Lake Junaluska. Customers must pay with checks; cash or credit not accepted.

Lake Junaluska is open to the public for vacations, group retreats, weddings, reunions and more. The grounds include a modern hotel, a historic inn, a campground, a golf course, vacation rental homes, meeting spaces, food services and recreation opportunities. Lake Junaluska also hosts concerts and other events throughout the year. To learn more about Lake Junaluska, visit lakejunaluska.com.

Apr 15 2016

National Park Service Centennial: Turning 100 Years Old!

2016 marks a monumental occasion in the history of our National Park Service as the systems turns 100 years this year.  While the official “birth date” falls on August 25, we in the NC Smokies will be celebrating all year long.  With peak season gearing up, there is no better time than now to get out and wish our national parks Happy 100th.  The Centennial will celebrate the achievements of the past 100 years, but it is really about the future. It’s about kicking off a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks and for communities across the nation.  Most importantly, it’s about inviting you to join us.

Haywood County is actually home to two of the most popular and favorite national parks in the entire country: the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They are also two of the most visited parks, so you know there are some really incredible experiences to be had in both!  Each park holds abundant adventure like miles and miles of hiking trails, fantastic camping (both campgrounds and backcountry), cool natural swimming holes, cascading waterfalls, some of the best scenic drives in the country, and more amazing photo opportunities than you have memory space for!

You can also take part in a variety of programs being offered at different national parks.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway are both offering a 100 Hikes Centennial Challenge, which encourages you to get out and experience AS MUCH of these parks as you can by hitting the trail.  You can learn more here: Smokies Centennial Challenge & Blue Ridge Parkway 100 Hikes.  You can also explore other parks and find ones closest to you at www.findyourpark.com.

So wait are you waiting for? Plan your trip to explore our national parks now!

Apr 14 2016

Spring into Festival Season in the Smoky Mountains

With Spring finally in the air, the North Carolina Smoky Mountains are buzzing with all sorts of fun happenings.  As the mountains begin to ascend in bright green and colorful blossoms, you can just feel the area bursting with life.  Spring is a wonderful time to be in the mountains for many reasons from abundant outdoor adventures and cool, crisp weather to incredible sightseeing, and of course, the kick off of festival season!  Here in Haywood County, we pride ourselves on our special events and festivals.  I mean, where else can you attend a festival dedicated solely to the official state dog of North Carolina, the Plott Hound or get the opportunity to go back in time to a real mountain street dance?

We may be partial, but we sure think that Haywood County has got it going on when it comes to our wide range of festivals and events.  We hope you’ll check out the events listed below and always check back on our Event Calendar, because we are always adding new, one-of-a-kind events.  We guarantee that if you come visit us for an event, Haywood County will keep you here with the countless other adventures you can launch from our five towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde!

May

5/6 – Art After Dark – Waynesville

5/6 – Whole Bloomin’ Thing Festival – Historic Frog Level – Waynesville

5/6 – Pat Donohoe at The Strand – Waynesville

5/13 – 5/15 – Thunder in the Smokies Spring Rally – Maggie Valley

5/13 – Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon – Waynesville

5/15 – Maggie Valley Band Concert Series – Maggie Valley

5/20 – 6/12 – Legally Blonde: The Musical” at The Hart Theater – Waynesville

5/27 – 5/29 –  Maggie Valley Spring Rally – Maggie Valley

5/28 –  Block Party – Downtown Waynesville

June                                 

6/3 –  Art After Dark – Waynesville

6/3 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

6/4 – “Quick Draw” Art in the Making – Waynesville

6/10 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

6/10 – 6/12 – MVR – Indian – Victory – Slingshot Rally in the Smokies – Maggie Valley

6/11 – Appalachian Lifestyle Celebration – Waynesville

6/11 – BoojumFest 2016 – Canton

6/17 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

6/17 – 7/3 – Vania and Sonia and Masha and Spike – HART Theater – Waynesville

6/18 – 6/19 – Plottfest – Maggie Valley

6/19 – Maggie Valley Concert Series

6/24 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

6/24 – Lake Junaluska Singers Premiere Concert – Lake Junaluska

6/24 – Mountain Street Dance – Waynesville

6/25 – Maggie Valley June Swap Meet & Car Show – Maggie Valley

 

July

7/1 – Art After Dark

7/1 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

7/1 – 7/4 – Independence Day Celebrations – Lake Junaluska

7/2 – BRACA Freedom Arts and Crafts Show – Waynesville

7/2 – Balsam Range Concert – Lake Junaluska

7/4 – Stars & Stripes Celebration – Waynesville

7/4 – Red, White, & Boom – Maggie Valley

7/5 – Canton Fourth of July Celebration – Canton

7/8 – Mountain Street Dance – Waynesville

7/8 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

7/8 – 7/31 – Jesus Christ Super Star – HART Theater – Waynesville

7/9 – Maggie Valley Summer Arts & Crafts Show – Maggie Valley

7/15 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

7/17 – Maggie Valley Concert Series – Maggie Valley

7/22 – 7/23 – WNC BBQ Festival “Smokin’ in the Valley” – Maggie Valley

7/29 – Pickin’ in the Park – Canton

Visit the NC Smokies Event Calendar for more information on these events and more!

Apr 12 2016

We’re moving to Maggie!

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority is very happy to announce that we are officially moving the Visit NC Smokies dream team into a new location! After months of searching for a larger space to make a permanent home for the staff’s administrative offices and visitor center, the perfect location was found at 1110 Soco Road in Maggie Valley.  The expansive, multi-use building offers plenty of room to house both the offices for the staff and also a full-service visitor center.  Everything you remember about our previous visitor center will be part of our new home, plus some cool new additions in the months to come.

Our previous location at 44 N. Main St. in Waynesville will permanently close on Wednesday, April 27th at 5:00 PM and our new location will open, Monday, May 2nd at 9:00 AM.

We invite you come see us in our new location and learn a little more about all there is to do in the NC Smokies.

HCTDA Office and Visitor Center

1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Toll-Free: 800-334-0764

www.visitncsmokies.com

Apr 11 2016

Did you miss April’s E-Newsletter? Check it out now!

Check out highlights from the April E-Newsletter below.  Every month we send out a free newsletter packed full of the latest and greatest happenings in Haywood County.  If you don’t already subscribe, we hope you will sign up to learn more about the NC Smokies and plan an adventure to come see us soon!

Subscribe to the Newsletter Here

The Blue Ridge Parkway: An intricate connection to Lake Junaluska
With the closest entrance only 16 minutes away, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains one of the most popular destinations for Lake Junaluska guests. But few realize that the Parkway’s history is entwined in the history of the lake—in fact, the Parkway wouldn’t come through North Carolina at all if not for Lake Junaluska. Click here to read the full article about Lake Junaluska and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Cheers to NC Beer Month!
One thing is for sure – Haywood County is no stranger to great craft beer! Home to four incredible microbreweris, Bearwaters Brewing, Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing, and Tipping Point Tavern & Brewery, we promise a wide variety of amazing brews to satisfy even the pickiest beer connoisseur. April is officially dubbed as NC Beer Month so come get your flight on in the NC Smokies! Click here to read the full article about craft beer in Haywood County, NC!

Motorcycle Ride on Blue Ridge Parkway

The Time to Ride is Here Again
Whether you prefer two-wheels or four, there is no denying that Haywood County is the ultimate motor touring destination. Every year the winding roads of the NC Smokies draw thousands of motor touring enthusiasts in search of the area’s best scenic twists and turns. Pair that with a trip to Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum along with a variety of other unique attractions and you’ve got a jam-packed adventure ahead of you! Check out our Motor Touring page for our motorcycle brochure that features mapped rides and things to remember. You can read more about upcoming motorcycle rallies and more in Haywood County here.

Apr 04 2016

The New Local: Haywood IS… Music!

The New Local: Haywood IS… Music!

Guest Blog by Ron Bower – Group Sales Manager for the Haywood TDA

Since relocating to this beautiful county last summer, I have discovered that Haywood County has a thriving, vibrant, live music scene. We all know that Nashville is Music City, Memphis is home to the King, Elvis Presley, Detroit is rich with Motown history, and Cleveland is the Rock and Roll Capital. Haywood County offers live music throughout the year. From our theaters, breweries and restaurants, to festivals and special events. Haywood has an eclectic array of places to experience live music on a regular basis.  Simply put, Haywood IS Music!

Haywood IS…. Award-winning!

My first experience with live music was a concert by award-winning bluegrass band, Balsam Range. The reigning International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Entertainers of the year, are from Canton, NC. Their IBMA Record of Year song Papertown is about their hometown and the music video was filmed on location in Canton as well. The guys have so much charisma on stage it’s hard not to fall in love with them. I have since experienced them live twice more at the Winter Concert Series at the Colonial Theatre in Canton. In fact, I am now a member of Balsam Nation, the band’s fan club. Haywood IS Music.

Haywood IS…. Live!

An up and coming venue for music in Western North Carolina is The Stand at 38 Main. The renovated historic theatre in the heart of downtown Waynesville features second run movies (hopefully first run in the near future), offers local craft beer and organic popcorn, as well as top notch live musical performers. I have had the pleasure to see sultry jazz artist Shana Tucker, the folksy sound of The Honey Dew Drops, and The Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry performed by the incredible Hillbenders. If you haven’t been to a show here, make plans to do so. The Strand has amazing acoustic sound and it’s very intimate holding about 90. Haywood IS Music!

Haywood IS… Local!

The Blue Ridge Music Trail comes through Haywood County, giving publicity to our thriving local music scene all year long.  Downtown Waynesville comes alive during the summer month with Mountain Street Dances on Main Street. Experience an old-fashioned mountain hoe down with live music & clogging with the Historic Haywood County Courthouse set in the backdrop.  Our breweries and bars offer live music almost every weekend. Music lovers can enjoy a variety of bands and artists from all genres at many of our local breweries, pubs, and watering spots.  The best part is admission is usually complimentary. The Classic Wineseller in the heart of Waynesville offers an intimate musical experience with jazz artists, acoustic guitar players, and a variety of musical acts that are enhanced by sampling wines from all over the world, and enjoying a tasty dinner. The Rendezvous Lounge and Tiki Bar offers live music outdoors throughout the summer. Enjoy brews, incredible cuisine, and a one of a kind mountain beach setting.  The Maggie Valley Opry House features legendary bluegrass picker Raymond Fairchild and a variety of bluegrass all summer long. Haywood IS Music!

Haywood IS… Festivals!

Haywood County boasts several music festivals to experience live performances. The Shining Rock Riverfest at Camp Hope in Canton on April 30 features a musical lineup of Appalachian roots and Americana music. Bring a tent and spend the night under the stars for a truly memorable stay. If bluegrass is more your style, check out the Hillbilly Jam in Maggie Valley, July 31-August 1, 2016. Bring a chair and enjoy a day of food, drinks, and incredible music at one of the nations truly unique events. The Smoky Mountain Folk Festival  at Lake Junaluska offers a rich variety of the region’s finest fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers, and square dance teams. Make it a weekend with a festival package and experience the serenity of this beautiful lake. End your summer on a great note by attending the oldest Labor Day Festival in the country. Come to downtown Canton on September 5th-7th and experience a living, breathing manufacturing town with unmatched authenticity and pride with live musical entertainment all weekend long. Haywood IS Music!

Come and experience live music for yourself all year long. You may just see me there. For all Haywood County musical performances check out our Events Calendar. You’ll soon discover why A Stay Here, Stays With You!

A little more about Ron….

Ron Bower is the Group Sales Manager for the Haywood County TDA. He has a Master’s of Science degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University in Columbus, OH, is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist (CTIS), Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA), and will be attending STS Marketing College starting this summer to become a Certified Travel Professional (CMP).

Mar 28 2016

The Time to Ride is Here Again

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains is by car or by motorcycle. You can read all about touring the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains by motorcycle or car on our Motor Touring page. There is even a helpful map to download the best motorcycle trips in the Smokies!

A trip to the NC Smokies wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Wheels Through Time – The Museum that Runs. It is the home to the worlds premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia and a distinct array of unique “one off” American automobiles. Located just 5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Maggie Valley, the museum houses a collection of over 350 rare machines.

Also, check out these upcoming motorcycle motorcycle rallies in the Smokies:

· Thunder in the Smokies Spring Rally: Saturday, May 13 in Maggie Valley

· Maggie Valley Spring Rally: June 10-June 12 in Maggie Valley

· First Annual Indian, Victory, Slingshot Rally in the Smokies: June 10-June 12 in Maggie Valley

Click here for our Motor Touring Guide and a full map of our favorite motorcycle routes in the Smokies.

Mar 28 2016

Celebrate NC Beer Month in Haywood County!

It is no secret that outdoor adventures pair perfectly with a delicious craft beer and that is exactly what you will find in Haywood County, NC.  This area of the North Carolina Smokies is serving up the perfect pairing of outdoor activities and unique craft brews that will have you coming back year after year to see what is on tap.

Home to 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a large portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haywood County and its five towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde are a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. From hardcore backpackers taking on the Appalachian Trail via Max Patch to families adventuring through Graveyard Fields in search of seasonal berries and local wildflowers, the North Carolina Smokies offer year-round activities for all ages and skill levels.

And what could be more perfect after a long day on the trail than kicking back with a delicious craft brew?  Haywood County is home to four award winning local microbreweries:

Bearwaters Brewing

Boojum Brewing

Frog Level Brewing

Tipping Point Tavern and Brewery

During the month of April, you can come celebrate North Carolina Beer Month with a visit to with each one them!

Beyond the breweries, you will find a number of other area businesses who specialize in offering a fine selection of local craft beer like Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop and Beer Garden, Bosu’s Wine Shop, The Classic Wine Seller and Sunburst Market.

So what are you waiting for? Get to Haywood County, NC to enjoy your perfect flight of authentic outdoor experiences and the best craft beers .

Mar 21 2016

The Blue Ridge Parkway: An intricate connection to Lake Junaluska

Four hundred sixty nine miles of curving road etched into the ridgelines. Romanesque-looking tunnels, dark holes through the granite mountain rock. Bridges arching over steep slopes, defying gravity as they hover over the treetops below. Spectacular views above a sea of blue mountains, unfurling across the horizon in waves and folds.

With the closest entrance only 16 minutes away, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains one of the most popular destinations for Lake Junaluska guests. But few realize that the Parkway’s history is entwined in the history of the lake—in fact, the Parkway wouldn’t come through North Carolina at all if not for Lake Junaluska.

The story began in 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson appointed Josephus Daniels, a devout Methodist, as Secretary of the Navy. Daniels needed help, so he appointed a promising young politician as his assistant secretary of the Navy. Also that year, Daniels built a summer cottage at Lake Junaluska.

The Guilded Age followed, with a burst of prosperity for the country. And then came the Great Depression. In an effort to pull the United States out of its slump, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps to create new jobs while simultaneously preserving the country’s natural resources. One of the projects was the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Parkway planned to join the Shenandoah Valley National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south. Competition ensued by economic interests in Tennessee and North Carolina, each group vying for the Great Smoky Mountains portion of the Parkway to come through their own state. Finally, the word came down. Tennessee had won.

Promoters in Tennessee were jubilant: The Parkway would bring jobs, tourists and greater prosperity to their state. The North Carolina interests were stunned. Didn’t North Carolina boast Richland Balsam Mountain, the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains? Weren’t some of the best views along the ridgeline of the North Carolina mountains? They weren’t willing to accept defeat.

Several influential men quietly planned a meeting at a location on Stuart Circle along Lake Junaluska. This was the summer cottage of Josephus Daniels, now the publisher of the Raleigh News & Observer. This meeting changed the course of Parkway history, but turning the tide didn’t happen without some effort.

Those at the meeting included the publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times, the director of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, and a top road engineer with the North Carolina Highway Commission who had trekked the western North Carolina mountains extensively in preparation for the Parkway.

Their purpose was to get the Blue Ridge Parkway diverted from its scheduled course through Tennessee, to go through North Carolina instead. The men asked Daniels to make an appeal to an old friend, that promising young politician he’d appointed as his assistant in the Navy – and who now resided in the White House – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Daniels had remained friends with Roosevelt all those years, and he didn’t want to impose on, and possibly damage, their relationship. After three hours of discussion, however, Roosevelt agreed.

Thanks to the enduring friendship between Daniels and Roosevelt and that fateful meeting at Lake Junaluska, the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s favorite drive,” was successfully routed through North Carolina.

As a side note, during his tenure over the Navy, Daniels ruled that ships could not stock alcohol. He suggested the crew could drink coffee instead. The crew may not have been happy about that, leading some to believe the expression “cup of joe” refers their reaction to that long-ago ruling by part-time Lake Junaluska resident, and devout Methodist, Josephus Daniels.

So next time you’re savoring the view from the Parkway or at Lake Junaluska, raise a cup in a toast to Joe.

Lake Junaluska is open to the public for vacations, group retreats, weddings, reunions and more. The grounds include a modern hotel, a historic inn, a campground, a golf course, vacation rental homes, meeting spaces, food services and recreation opportunities. Lake Junaluska also hosts concerts and other events throughout the year. To learn more about Lake Junaluska, visit lakejunaluska.com.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Length: 469 miles

Number of tunnels: 26, with 25 in N.C.

Highest peak: Richland Balsam Mountain (6,047 feet)

Visitors: 17 million per year

Year round sites: N.C. Minerals Museum, Spruce Pine, N.C.; Folk Art Center and Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, Asheville, N.C.

Peak of fall season leaf color: mid-October, depending on weather and elevation. For the latest reports, call Parkway information line at (828) 298-0398 (press option 3).

More information: National Park Service http://home.nps.gov/blri/index.htm

Mar 15 2016

Enter to WIN your very own Haywood County Quilt Block!

If you have ever wondered what those giant, colorful blocks are on the sides of buildings and other structures throughout Haywood County, now is the perfect time to learn! They are called Quilt Blocks and are part of a rapidly growing attraction in Haywood County. The blocks make up the Haywood County Quilt Trail (HCQT) and each one is unique in itself as it represents a special story about the area it is located. There are almost fifty total blocks on the HCQT and you can now enter to win your very own that will be added to this beloved trail.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority, who manages the trail, is excited to announce the kick off of a raffle program where you can enter to win your very own 4×4 foot quilt block. The designated block is the “Gateway to the Smokies” Spring edition (shown above) which features a trio of trillium blossoms and two bear paws situated below the mountains and an arch, representing the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Raffle tickets can be purchased through the Haywood County TDA by calling 828-452-0152 or by stopping by the TDA visitor center at 44 N. Main St. in Waynesville. The block is currently on display at the visitor center as well. The cost is $25 per ticket or five for $100 and are capped at a total of 10 tickets per person. The drawing will be held on Friday, May 6th as part of the week-long celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week.

The TDA does want to emphasize that because the block will be featured on the Haywood County Quilt Trail, it is required to remain in the county and must be installed on a building or structure that can be accessed or viewed by the public year-round. But don’t fret! If you don’t live in Haywood County, we will provide you with a smaller replica of the block to have AND we will help you find a location within our beautiful county to place the actual 4×4 foot block!

If you’ve been considering a quilt block for your business, barn, or other structure, the TDA highly encourages you to contact them to purchase tickets.

All proceeds from the raffle will go to benefit the future development and enhancement of the Haywood County Quilt Trail, which means the addition of more blocks and merchandise to promote this popular trail! To learn more about the trail, visit https://haywoodquilttrails.com/. And don’t worry – if you don’t win the block, you can still apply and purchase your very own block to become part of the quilt trail.

Want to buy a ticket it or find out more info?  Call us at 828-452-0152 or email anna@visitncsmokies.com.

Full Raffle Guidelines:

· The raffle is for one (1) 4×4 foot “Gateway to the Smokies” Spring Block
· Drawing will be held on Friday, May 6th, 2016
· Raffle ticket price: $25.00 each or 5 for $100
· Limit 10 tickets per person/business
· The block MUST remain in Haywood County.
· Raffle tickets can be purchased by anyone but the winner of the block must agree to have the blocked featured on the Haywood County Quilt Trail. This means the block must be installed on a building or structure that can be publicly accessed and viewed year-round in Haywood County. It cannot be placed on private property that does not allow visitors to frequent the block.
· If the block is won by someone residing outside of Haywood County that does not own the building or structure for which the block is placed, the HCTDA will have a smaller replica of the block created for the winner to have.
· The winner will have one week to claim their prize.
· The winner must choose a location for the block within 30 days of claiming the prize. The HCTDA is happy to offer suggestions of locations for the block if needed.

Mar 07 2016

Stay in Tune with the NC Smokies Travel Newsletter

Do you love fresh mountain adventures while keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest happenings in your favorite destinations?  Then you need to sign up for the monthly NC Smokies Travel Newsletter! If the mountains of Haywood County are one of top destinations to visit or it’s on your bucket list to experience (and trust us, it should be!) then we encourage you to sign up.

At the beginning of each month, we compile a nifty little newsletter with the latest and greatest travel information about Haywood County.  From “must-see” attractions and awesome events, to unique stories, seasonal happenings, and much more.  And we just send you one newsletter each month – we never bombard your inbox with pointless information or a massive amount of emails.  Each newsletter is designed to provide you with a little teaser on what is happening in the NC Smokies but if you want more info, then just give us call, visit our website, or get a free copy of our Visitor Guide sent directly to your door.

The April edition is currently in the works and while we don’t like to toot our own horn, it’s going to packed with some really great information, so make sure you sign up now by clicking on this link.

We look forward to sharing our special little slice of mountain paradise with you and your family.  See you soon in the NC Smokies!

 

Feb 29 2016

Ohio Girl Travels Comes to the NC Smokies

Visit NC Smokies recently had the pleasure of hosting a group of incredibly talented and fun travel writers for a winter press trip.  The group spent several days exploring Haywood County and experiencing the many reasons why the NC Smokies offer the perfect year-round mountain getaway.  They enjoyed skiing at Cataloochee Ski Area, hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sampled local craft beers, dined at incredible restaurants, and even got a chance to catch Haywood County’s own award-winning bluegrass band Balsam Range live at the Colonial Theater in Canton.

Following the trip came some pretty awesome blog postings from one of the attendees, Heather Rader of Ohio Girl Travels, which we just had to share with all our followers as well! Heather is the blogger and traveler behind Ohio Girl Travels. Growing up in rural Ohio, she never dreamed she would travel the world. At the age of eighteen, she was bitten by the travel bug, and more than ten years later, she has visited three continents, over twenty countries (many of those multiple times), thirty-six states, and over hundred cities! Heather loves exploring other cultures, religions, and foods, and is always up for a new adventure! Whether she is riding elephants in Thailand, climbing the Great Wall of China, exploring Hindu temples in India, enjoying the view from the top of the highest building in the world in Dubai, cruising the Seine River in Paris, tasting port in Portugal, or eating tapas in Barcelona, nothing satisfies her more than being a citizen of the world!

We hope you enjoy reading about Heather’s experiences here in Haywood County as much I did.  She captures so many of the incredible reasons why the NC Smokies is one of the best areas to visit, live, and play in all of North Carolina.

You can access all her blogs on North Carolina here.  Or check them out individually:

heather 312 Reasons to Visit Haywood CountyLocated in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, the charming Haywood County often is over-shadowed by the eclectic city of Asheville (approximately 25 miles east of Haywood County). With five unique towns (Canton, Clyde, Lake Junaluska, Maggie Valley and Waynesville) Haywood County welcomes visitors to stroll their charming downtowns, shop at locally owned small businesses, sample craft beers from four breweries, indulge in farm to table meals, and be inspired by the breathtaking natural scenery of the Great Smokheather 2y Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Pisgah National Forest.

 

Skiing in Western North CarolinaLooking for awesome skiing and snowboarding in the eastern United States? Then look no further than North Carolina! To be honest, I never thought of North Carolina as a ski destination, but after visiting two of the six (Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort, Cataloochee Ski Area, Sapphire Valley, Sugar Mountain Resort and Wolf Ridge Ski Resort) ski resorts in the state, I’m a believer! With beautiful mountain views the slopes of North Carolina are a winter sports enthusiast’s dream!

 

Hiking Purchase Knob in the Smoky MHeather 1ountains There is just something about taking a hike that makes me find inner peace. Especially with the surrounding beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Haywood County boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails within the thousands of acres of the Smoky Mountains, making for an outdoor and nature enthusiast’s dream!

 

If you don’t already follow Heather and her amazing adventures, we hope you will!

Ohio Girl Travels – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

Photos courtesy of Heather Rader

Feb 22 2016

Enjoy a Taste of Haywood at Melange of the Mountains Culinary Gala

It is no secret that Haywood County has a robust culinary scene.  You can enjoy the ability to dine at year-round farm-to-table restaurants, shop at specialty retail shops featuring delicious Haywood-centric products like trout caviar and pickled ramps, sample fresh brews at local microbreweries and take the opportunity to embark on an agri-adventure across the county thanks to local agritourism initiative, Buy Haywood.  And to top it off, you’ll find a number of incredible foodie events through out the season that will leave your taste buds watering for more. Kicking off these events every year is highlight of the spring season, Melange of the Mountains.

Mélange of the Mountains is Haywood’s premier culinary event launching the spring tourism season. It is a uniquely local epicurean partnership of innovative chefs, sustainable producers, crafty microbrewers and local farms. Visitors, from near and far, will discover that Haywood County is a vibrant and diverse destination for foodies of all ages – well worth a gold star on the regional gastronomy map!

Make plans to attend the event and enjoy all the tasty delights of the 12th Annual Culinary Gala held at Laurel Ridge Country Club on Thursday, March 10th. Experience some of Western North Carolina’s most regarded restaurants, microbreweries, artisan producers and culinary talent as participants compete in categories ranging from salad to seafood to dessert. After the competition, participants will offer expertly plated samples of specialty items inspired by their own menus and culinary point of view. Find a great place to stay while you are in town for the Melange from our great mix of hotels, cabins, bed and breakfasts and more on our lodging page.

To further promote Haywood County as a culinary destination, the Gala event will extend to a Culinary Weekend filled with a wealth of specialty dinners, culinary demos, and tastings hosted by participating restaurants and other local businesses.

Some events are free and open to the public while others are ticketed requiring reservations.

Reserve your ticket for the Gala NOW! Limited availability. More details coming soon about the Culinary Weekend schedule of events. Visit www.HaywoodChamber.com to reserve tickets and event information.

 

Feb 15 2016

Local Love for the NC Smokies

This week I wanted to take an opportunity to spread some local love with all our blog followers out there. After all, February is “Love the Locals” month in downtown Waynesville. We most often talk about all the incredible things there are to experience here in the NC Smokies from the standpoint of sharing our beautiful little corner of NC with outside visitors. But this week, I want to share with you Haywood County from a different perspective – that of a brand new local.  We want to not only encourage those from far and wide to come visit, but we want to encourage our local Haywood County residents to make the most of their majestic surroundings by being a backyard explorer.  From experiencing a new hiking trail and dining at a restaurant you may have never visited before, to checking out a shop you’ve never been in or visiting a local attraction you’ve driven by a hundred times but never stopped to see why our visitors love it so much.

So with that said, I give you a guest blog from our own Ron Bower, Group Sales Manager for Visit NC Smokies.  Ron moved to Haywood County in 2015 and has since spent his spare time exploring his new home.  He loves it here and hopes his blog will encourage you, whether you are a local or visitor, to experience all the Haywood County has to offer!

The New Local

By Ron Bower

After nearly 6 months of being a new resident of Haywood County, I still haven’t had time to experience everything this beautiful county has to offer. I relocated here in August 2015 from the Midwest. The scenic beauty of the mountains was a big part of my decision, why wouldn’t it be. The Smoky Mountains are stunning. The other reason for my move was career oriented. When I was offered the position of Group Sales Manager for Haywood County TDA, I knew there would be a bunch of places that I could have groups experience.

One of the first places I experienced was Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to go elk watching. Those magnificent creatures took my breath away. They are beautiful, and quite large. Being from a large city, I had never been so close to wildlife unless it was at a zoo. The day I was there, I witnessed a herd of about 75 grazing the field. I even heard the distinct sound of an elk bugle. If you’re not familiar with bugling, it is their mating call.  I admit, I was a little hesitant being so close to wild animals. But I learned from National Park Rangers that if I respect them, they will respect me. Don’t disturb them. Don’t go towards them. Just watch. That’s sound advice.

While at Cataloochee Valley, I also toured one of the historic homes that housed families before the land became a National Park. It is fascinating to see how folks lived back in in the early 20th Century with no electric or modern amenities that we take for granted. There was a fireplace that was presumably used to cook and keep the family warm. I also toured the town church. There are still pews, a small stage with a podium, complete with an old Bible. It was like being in an episode of Little House on the Prairie, without the drama.

In the coming months, I will share my experiences of Haywood County and  hope to open the eyes of locals who may have forgot what there is to experience and to show visitors how incredibly beautiful this part of the country is. So until then,  get out and explore Haywood County!

 

A little more about Ron….

Ron Bower is the Group Sales Manager for the Haywood County TDA. He has a Master’s degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University in Columbus, OH, and is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist (CTIS).

Feb 11 2016

Make Sweet Memories in the NC Smokies this Valentines Day

If you’re still racking your brain on what to do this Valentines Day Weekend, why not pack your bags and sweep your sweetie away to the NC Smokies?  Nothing is more romantic than a cozy winter weekend in the mountains, complete with a few winter adventures like skiing at Cataloocheee Ski Area or a scenic winter hike followed by a romantic evening of great food, drink, and entertainment.  You will find plenty of options available here in Haywood County to make the most of your romantic weekend away. Below are a few suggestions of local eateries who have something special in store for all your love birds.  But if you need more ideas, just give us a call at 828-452-0152 and we will make sure you have the most memorable Valentines Day ever!

Feb 02 2016

Chill out at WinterFest Smoky Style

Are you looking for a little something different to round out your winter fun? Make plans to attend one of the most unique winter festivals in North Carolina – WinterFest Smoky Style.  The festival offers a closer look into the winter sport of dog sledding as well as many other activities celebrating the working dog breeds.  Learn more in my recent article published in The Laurel of Asheville, which provides on overview of what ot expect at this year’s festival!

Outdoors: WinterFest Smoky Style

Story by Anna Smather; Photos by Beth Brown Photography

If you’re suffering from cabin fever this winter, look no further than the mountains of Western North Carolina for relief. With an abundance of seasonal activities—hiking, skiing, and even outdoor festivals—it’s a sure fire way to combat the winter blues. One such event is WinterFest Smoky Style, slated for February 26–28 in Maggie Valley.

The idea of WinterFest first came about when Ron DeSimone, mayor of Maggie Valley at the time, was introduced to professional Alaskan dog musher Hugh Neff. Ron was on a mission to boost winter tourism in his community and Hugh’s passion for dogsledding became the inspiration for WinterFest Smoky Style. Ron reasoned that a sight like mushing combined with an emphasis on other seasonal outdoor activities might make for a perfect draw for a winter-based event.

“Ron’s vision, as he explained it to me, was to figure out how to attract more people to discover the magic of winter in our mountains,” says Kirk Wall, one of the lead organizers of WinterFest. Kirk, a fellow dogsledding enthusiast, jumped at the opportunity to join Ron’s mission. The idea quickly gained momentum and soon WinterFest Smoky Style was born. Giving nod to working dogs, mushing, and the great outdoors, the festival would have a strong canine presence along with components unlike any other local winter event.

The inaugural event, held in February 2015, featured professional dogsledding, a sanctioned canine International Weight Pull Association competition, the local K-9 unit, timber sports, and winter survival lessons, among other activities. The festival’s success proved that despite colder temperatures and even a snowstorm, an outdoor winter festival could thrive in Maggie Valley. Following the festival, the committee, under the direction of the passionate mayor, began efforts to build on the festival’s achievements. A dream of a bigger, better WinterFest Smoky Style in 2016 was well underway.

Sadly, in July 2015, tragedy struck when Maggie Valley’s beloved Mayor DeSimone was killed in a construction accident. The community, along with the WinterFest committee, mourned the loss of its steadfast leader and dear friend. The group’s members knew, however, they had to continue moving the festival forward, in honor of DeSimone and the community he loved.

“Ron was—and still is—the inspiration for all who continue to push WinterFest to capture his vision of Maggie Valley and all of Haywood County being a year-round tourist destination where people looked forward to exploring our mountains in the winter as much as they already do in the summer,” says Kirk.

This year’s event will carry on Ron’s legacy with an even larger emphasis on the great outdoors. The National Park Service (NPS is celebrating its 100th anniversary) will be part of the festival. With significant portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in Haywood County, NPS will be highlighting winter park events and offering hiking safety tips.

The festival will open with a special ceremony and blessing for the animals and participants by native Cherokee storyteller, Jerry Wolfe. Volunteers with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian will offer demonstrations in arrowhead making, traditional dances, and storytelling.

The popular sled dogs will return again, offering a closer look into the exciting sport of recreational urban dog mushing. Snow actually isn’t required to mush, as specially-designed sleds with wheels instead of runners are utilized. Several crowd-pleasing events from the first year will also return, including the weight pull competition, K-9 units from area police departments, and even a group of Plott Hounds, the state dog of North Carolina, whose breed originated in Haywood County.

Spencer Boljack, owner of the Land of the Sky Wilderness School and star of the former reality show Hillbilly Blood, will demonstrate winter survival skills. And Haywood Community College’s award-winning timber sports team will showcase their competition skills, including ax-throwing and the standing block chop.

Local music, along with food and craft vendors, will be available throughout the festival. There will also be a grand bonfire on Saturday evening, allowing festivalgoers to cap off their day by the warmth of a cozy fire.

The festival kicks off Friday, February 26, at the annual Wild Game Dinner hosted by the Haywood Community College’s Wildlife Club. The rest of the festivities will get underway—come rain, snow, or shine—at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 27, at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, 3374 Soco Road in Maggie Valley. For more, visit winterfestsmokystyle.com. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Jan 19 2016

2016 Visitor Guides Now Available!

If you’re planning or even thinking about planning a visit to the NC Smokies, we have great news!  The 2016 Official Visitor’s Guide to the NC Smokies is hot off the press and ready to guide you to your  next adventure in Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde.  It is jammed packed with useful information like sample itineraries, tons of  suggested activities, a long list of awesome accommodations to serve as your base camp, plenty of authentic, local events, and that is just the start.   I mean, just look at the cover – doesn’t that make you want to pack up your family, friends, pups and more to come play in the Great Smoky Mountains?!

Did we spark your interest? Good, because there are several ways to check out this fantastic new guide.  The easiest and quickest is to head on over to our visitor guide page and download a PDF of the guide.  You can also complete the form on that page or give us a call at 828.452.0152 and we will mail you a guide for FREE!  Or if you are fortunate enough to find yourself here in beautiful Haywood County, stop by our visitor center at 44. N Main St, Waynesville to pick one up.

We hope you’ll grab one of these cool guides and head for the NC Smokies soon. We guarantee a stay here will stay with you….and will have you coming back again and again!

Jan 12 2016

Winter Fun for All!

Planning to head to the NC Smokies for the long weekend?  No doubt hitting the slopes at Cataloochee Ski Area is on your mind, but what are you going to do when you’re not traversing one of the best ski areas in the Southeast?  Well, you won’t have to search too hard because there is plenty to keep your entertained all weekend long!  For starters, the Haywood Regional Arts Theater kicks off it’s winter production series with “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” – January 15 – 24 (Weekends only). But before you venture out for the evening, start with a delicious local meal.  Haywood County offers a variety locally owned and operated restaurants across it’s five towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde.  Take your pick from mountain-style barbecue and traditional Americana fares to authentic Italian, tasty Thai fusion, and a variety of other choices.  After dinner, you can take your pick from a variety of evening entertainment. From a production at HART Theater to treating your kids to a night of roller skating and games at the Smoky Mountain Sk8teway.  Or grab some locally made ice cream and catch a movie at the historic Strand at 38 Main theater.

Craft beer drinkers will love exploring our breweries, most often accompanied by an number of talented local bands and musicians. Wine connoisseurs can enjoy a vast collection of wine from around the world while listening to smooth standards at the Classic Wine Seller. And that is just the beginning!  There is also a variety of events taking place throughout the winter months that are the perfect reason to plan a return to visit to the NC Smokies – Events Calendar.

Don’t forget to also save the date WinterFest Smoky Style – February 26 – 28, 2016 at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds. This signature winter event will feature the highly popular sled dog demonstrations, sanctioned dog International Weight Pull Association competition and timber sports demonstrations that debuted last year. Dog owners will even be able to pay a nominal fee to have their pet take part in an amateur dog weight pull under the supervision of professionals. The 2016 event will offer local musical entertainment, along with additional exhibits such as outdoor survival demonstrations, ways to enjoy the nearby national parks in the wintertime and story telling. Visit www.winterfestsmokystyle.com to learn more!

Jan 05 2016

History Channels “American Restoration” Filmed in Haywood!

If you’re a fan of two-wheeled history and restoration, our own Wheels Through Time museum, and motorcycles in general, then we suggest tuning into season 7 of “American Restoration” on the History Channel.

The new American Restoration will feature Dale Walksler, owner of Wheels Through Time (located right here in Maggie Valley) and his crew.  This season they will be bringing two-wheeled American History back  to life as Dale and crew will share the screen with four other shops, each bringing their unique talent to the show.  Filming this adventure started in July of 2015 and continued through the year, keeping Dale busy behind the museum scene restoring and bringing back to like some of Americas rarest two-wheeled treasures.

Dale however in not the only “star” on the show.  Always eager  Asheville, N.C. resident, John Gustufson, is the MacGyver like mechanic that can fix anything. Bob White A.K.A “quail” currently serves on the museum board of directors and holds up many of the historical aspects of the restorations on the new show.

Of coarse television is nothing new at the museum . Discovery/ Velocity hit it off with Dale and crew in its 2 year run of “What’s In The Barn” and Mike and Frank of “American Pickers” have always trusted Dale for his knowledge and expertise.

To learn more about the show and view past episodes, visits American Restoration on the History Channel. And don’t forget to tune in Friday nights at 9pm for the latest episodes.

Stop by and visit Wheels Through Time on your next visit to Haywood County! Open April  – November, Wheels Though Time Museum is the home to the worlds premier collection of rare American motorcycles, memorabilia and a distinct array of unique “one off” American automobiles. Located just 5 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Maggie Valley, North Carolina the museum houses a collection of over 350 rare machines. Visit Wheels Through Time

 

Dec 21 2015

Happy Holidays from Visit NC Smokies!

On behalf of the staff at Visit NC Smokies and all of it’s partners, we wish you and your family a happy holiday season and hope your new year is full of prosperity and plenty of adventure!

If you are lucky enough to be spending your holidays here in the NC Smokies, please come by and see us at our visitor centers for any local information.  We do have modified holidays hours at our centers, so please make note of these below:

Waynesville Visitor Center – Open Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm

Christmas Eve – 9am – 3pm

Closed Christmas Day and New Years Day

Maggie Valley Visitor Center – Open Friday and Saturdays – 10am – 4pm

Christmas Eve 10am – 4pm

Closed Christmas Day and New Years Day

 

Dec 15 2015

Maggie Valley Ranked #2 as “Most Affordable US Ski Towns” by TripAdvisor

If you are looking for a fun, affordable winter escape, look no further than Maggie Valley, North Carolina! The latest rankings just released by TripAdvisor ranks Maggie Valley as the #2 “Most Affordable US Ski Town” which is even more of a reason to start planning your vacation this winter in the NC Smokies.

TripAdvisor ranks Maggie Valley with an average Vacation Rental Score or 4.85/5.00 and and average Weekly Rate of $847.  Just 5 miles to Cataloochee Ski Area, you can rent a two-bedroom home in Maggie Valley this winter for the low weekly rate of $847. That’s only $140 per night – or less if you split it with a group!

With Cataloochee Ski Area in it’s backyard, historically boasting one of the longest ski seasons in the southeast, Maggie Valley is the perfect location to launch a winter vacation full of adventure.  Once you’ve conquered Cataloochee’s 18 slopes, make time for snow tubing at Tube World, take a scenic winter hike at Purchase Knob, go visit the elk in Cataloochee Valley, and top it off with a delicious meal at one of our many independently owned restaurants or with some live music at a local brewery.  The possibilities are endless….especially when you venture into our four other towns of Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde.  Each town offers it’s own unique component that will make your winter getaway your new favorite vacation.

We look forward to seeing you this winter in the NC Smokies!

Dec 07 2015

Shop Local in Haywood this Holiday Season and Win Local!

Do you holiday shopping locally in Haywood County and win a local gift with the Buy Haywood #ShopSmall Contest

Don’t stop with Small Business Saturday! 

THINK BIG & SHOP SMALL this holiday season and ENTER TO WIN our #ShopSmall Contest.

– The Contest –

Support Buy Haywood’s Uniquely Local partners at area farms, markets, specialty retailers, farm-to-table restaurants, event venues, and Christmas tree farms.

Each time you shop small, leave a post on our Facebook page telling us the Uniquely Local partner you supported and automatically get entered to win!  It is that simple…  The more you shop, the more you post, the greater your chances of winning!

Did you purchase local ingredients for your Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday meal?

POST IT!

Did you take advantage of Small Business Saturday to support local independent agripreneurs?

POST IT!

Did you visit a local Christmas Tree farm?

POST IT!

Did you dine with one of our Uniquely Local – Farm to Table partners?

POST IT!

If you attend a farm-based holiday event?

POST IT!

If you take a hostess gift to a holiday meal, dinner party or holiday celebration from one of our Specialty Retail partners?

POST IT!

For a full listing of Buy Haywood’s Uniquely Local destinations,
visit our web directory.  Or, pick up a paper copy of our Find your Adventure! 2015 Agritourism Guide at one of our local partner locations listed on our website.  The agritourism guide includes a calendar of holiday events at various farm locations.

Join our efforts andpurchase with a purpose’ by using your holiday shopping dollars to invest in the agricultural backbone of Haywood County.   Support of local agripreneurs keeps farms viable and preserves access to local products while protecting farmland and the rural character of the region.

Looking for #ShopSmall ideas?  CLICK HERE

Feeling  passionate about supporting local businesses? Take our #ShopSmall Pledge and post it across your social media platforms.  On Facebook, tag us at Buy Haywood and on Instagram BuyHaywood, be sure to include the hashtag #shopsmallhaywood.

Start shopping and posting!  It is that simple…  The more you shop, the more you post, the greater your chances of winning!


– The Uniquely Local Prizes –

FIRST DRAWING

Copper PotSeasonal Pantry FULL-YEAR Membership
from
Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon
($150.00 value)

Enjoy or share your favorite Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon preserves & pickles all year round!

The Seasonal Pantry Membership brings a box of three new delectable flavors every other month for a full year! Each hand-printed gift box contains an Artisan Pickle, Sweet Jam, and Savory Spread, nestled in wood shavings & tied with raffia ribbon. Pantry Members will also have the opportunity to sample new products, receive recipe cards featuring Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon preserves, and enjoy exclusive discounts and special offers on future orders.

You’ll receive six shipments for a total of 18 jars of pantry stocking goodness!

*Flavor varieties will include 6 Pickles, 6 Sweet Jams and 6 Savory/Specialty Preserves

SECOND & THIRD DRAWING

coffee-cup-cafe-522e14ed9d0782bf55000753

$50 GIFT CARDS
from
COFFEE CUP CAFE


– Contest Rules –

Facebook posts must include purchases made during contest period that support Buy Haywood agripreneurs.

Contest runs Monday: November 23-Friday: December 25, 2015. 

Winner will be drawn on Wednesday, December 30, 2015.

Winner must claim prize in person with a photo ID, during normal business hours, at the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center located at 28 Walnut Street, Waynesville NC.

Winner will be notified via Facebook messaging on December 30, 2015.  If no response from winner within two weeks of notification, a new winner will be drawn.

Prize must be claimed by January 30, 2016. 

Nov 30 2015

Search no further…your perfect Christmas Tree is right here in Haywood County!

Are you in search of the PERFECT Christmas tree?  Forget about all those fake trees and stop searching the local lots.  Make a trip to Haywood County for the real deal: a beautiful, NC grown Fraser Fir Christmas Tree.

As the holidays quickly approach, create a timeless tradition with your family at one of Haywood County’s choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. Nestled among the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, these farms attract visitors both near and far in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  The county is home to five locally owned and operated farms specializing in North Carolina Fraser firs. Tree-seekers can search the mountainside for the ideal Christmas tree or choose a pre-cut tree of their liking. Prices typically start around $45.00 and increase based on height.  Other holiday necessities can be purchased onsite such as fresh hand-made wreaths and garland.

Take your pick from these five local trees farms right here in Haywood County

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
446 Boyd Farm Rd., Waynesville NC 28785
828-926-888 or www.boydmountainchristmastreefarm.com

Dutch Cove Christmas Tree Farm
280 Setzer Dr., Canton NC 28716
828-400-0806

Mehaffey Tree Farm
24 Corner Dr., Waynesville NC 28786
828-926-1324 or mehaffeytreefarm.com

Nesbitt Christmas Tree Farm
333 Sunset Ridge Rd., Clyde NC 28721
828-400-2244

WNC Christmas Trees
2436 Jonathan Creek Rd, Waynesville NC 29785
828-926-3224 or wnclandscaping.com

Don’t forget there are also a variety of events taking place throughout the winter months that are the perfect accompaniment during your visit in the NC Smokies.

  • 12/1 – 12/31           All through the Town – Downtown Waynesville –  www.downtownwaynesville.com 828-456-3517
  • 12/3                         Canton Christmas Parade – Downtown Canton 6:30    PM www.cantonnc.com or 828-235-2760
  • 12/2 – 12/5            Calvary Road Church presents “The Gift” –  Haywood County Fair Grounds 758 Crabtree Road 6PM – 10PM call 828-926-0506 ext.1901 for tickets
  • 12/4                         Art After Dark – Downtown Waynesville & Historic Frog Level 6PM – 9PM Stroll the participating galleries www.waynesvillegalleryassociation.com
  • 12/5                           Flea Market at the Fairgrounds – 758 Crabtree Road Haywood Fairgrounds 7AM – 2PM www.haywoodcountyfairgrounds.org or 828-400-1704
  • 12/5                           Papertown Christmas Craft FairCanton Armory 71 Penland Street 9AM – 4PM – 828-648-0101
  • 12/7                           Waynesville Christmas Parade – Downtown Waynesville 6PM – www.downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517
  • 12/10 – 12/13         “Home for the Holidays” at HART Theatre250 Pigeon Street Waynesville 3:00PM & 7:30 PM show times www.harttheatre.com or call 828-456-6322
  • 12/11 & 12               Appalachian ChristmasLakeshore Drive Lake Junaluska – www.lakejunaluska.com or 828-452-2881
  • 12/12                         A Night Before ChristmasDowntown Waynesville 6PM – 9PM – www.downtownwaynesville.com or 828-456-3517
  • 12/18                         3rd Generation Barn Loft84 Frank Mann Road Canton, NC 5:30 – 6:10PM – Free Event “Worship Service in a Barn” 828-648-4094
  • 12/18                         Polar Express Event at Haywood County Fair Grounds – 758 Crabtree Road Waynesville 6 – 8PM www.haywoodcountyfairgrounds.org or 828-400-1704
Nov 23 2015

Go Local this Thanksgiving with this seasonal recipe

I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving dinner is probably my very favorite of all holiday meals.  There is not a single dish traditionally served on Thanksgiving that I do not like.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce…you name it and I guarantee you’ll find it on my plate.  If your family is like mine, then you probably split up the recipe duties – and when you’re cooking for 20 people, that is probably a welcome relief to the head chef.  Someone handles the preparation of the perfect turkey, while another makes the sweet potato casserole and so on.  But it can sometimes be difficult to come up with just the right dish to compliment a smorgasbord of other holiday recipes.  So if you are racking your brain on what to take over the river and through the woods to the grandmothers house this Thanksgiving, I have one word of advice: go local.  There is nothing better than a delicious dish made from fresh, local ingredients.  And despite the fact that we are now in the colder months when local produce isn’t as readily available, you sill have options, like butternut squash.  This veggie is the perfect way to incorporate a fresh, local ingredient into your Thanksgiving meal.  Not sure how to prepare it?  Check out this recipe courtesy of our local agricultural initiative Buy Haywood and Chef Jackie Blevins of Perfectly Seasoned.

This recipe for Butternut Squash Salad combines the freshest seasonal ingredients with a smoky Dijon vinaigrette to create a savory “Farm to Table” dish.  It is a fusion of farm fresh flavors that can be modified and served over pasta or shines on its own.

Try incorporating this truly UNIQUELY LOCAL recipe into your Thanksgiving routine for an unforgettable family favorite.   

Butternut Squash Salad with Smoky Dijon Vinaigrette

(Courtesy of Chef Jackie Blevins of Perfectly Seasoned)

INGREDIENTS:

1 small butternut squash, peeled and ¾ inch diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and Pepper

2 apples, thinly sliced or julienned

¼ cup dried cranberries, blueberries or golden raisins

Salad greens – butter lettuce, arugula

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled blue cheese for garnish

STEPS OF PREPARATION:

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place diced squash on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Place baking sheet in oven and roast for 25-35 minutes or until squash is tender.  Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Toss the squash with the apples, cranberries, greens and almonds.

Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with cheese.

Serves 6-8

SMOKY DIJON VINAIGRETTE

Whisk together 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in a small bowl.

Season with salt & pepper to taste

About Buy Haywood and Chef Blevins

Can you imagine a place where farmers grow hundreds of acres of fresh produce, graze cattle, raise shrubs, trees, herbs, and bees—create dozens of value added products like Peach-Shine Jam and Gourmet Max Patch Pepper Butter—while embodying the character of a rural community? Welcome to our Haywood County!

This “farm to table” dish was created by local chef and agripreneur, Jackie Blevins of Perfectly Seasoned.

Chef Blevins embodies the true essence of the Uniquely Local—Farm to Table philosophy by sourcing seasonal ingredients from the Perfectly Seasoned garden and directly from the farms of Haywood County.  Chef Blevins’ commitment to local creates a fusion of fresh and unexpected flavors that elevates her recipes to unforgettable status.

Drawing upon the oldest agricultural heritage in the Appalachian Region, agripreneurs like Chef Blevins, represent the region’s vibrant cultural and historical diversity.

Each and every uniquely local farm, grower, chef and producer in Haywood County is a reflection of our rich Appalachian heritage—rooted in cultural memory, heirloom seed saving, multi-generational farms, and a tradition of time spent at the dinner table surrounded by loved ones.

To find these and other UNIQUELY LOCAL partners in and around Haywood County,

Visit:  www.buyhaywood.com or stop by a Haywood County Visitor Center to pick up your free “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide that is jam packed with year-round agritourism offerings!

Nov 17 2015

Cataloochee Ski Area opens for it’s 55th season!

It’s official, folks…skiing and snowboarding has returned to Catalochee Ski Area in Haywood County for its 55th season! The ski area is now up and running for another stellar season of winter fun, so stop what you’re doing and start making your plans to visit NOW!

Cataloochee Ski Area, located in Maggie Valley, joined other resorts across the country as they opened for the 2015-16 season on Sunday, November 15, with lifts ready to roll at 8:30am.   The area has been making snow around the clock since 4:30pm on Friday, November 13.  The opening day was a little late by Cataloochee standards, as they opened November 2 last year, skiing a total of 141 days.  Cataloochee’s continued dedication to snowmaking has allowed them to be consistently among the first areas in the country to open each season, averaging 127 days of skiing and riding each winter.  Located high in the mountains of Haywood County, they are a snowsports playground to many in the Southeast.

Each year, Cataloochee continues to make significant improvements to its snowmaking infrastructure allowing the resort’s operational staff to be aggressive in helping skiers and snowboarders with their first tracks of the season.  “Staying current with advances in the industry has enabled us to make snow more effectively in the early season.  This allows us to open earlier each year as the weather cooperates.” says Chris Bates, Cataloochee’s Vice-President and General Manager.

As of today, November 17, the ski area has four slopes open and 2 lifts available.  As snowmaking increases and temperatures drop, more slopes and lifts will continue to open.

For more information, including current hours, pricing, and an up-to-date snow report, please visit their website www.cataloochee.com.

Nov 09 2015

Enjoy a Tasty Thanksgiving in the NC Smokies

Can you believe the Thanksgiving holiday is just a little over two weeks away?  It seems like just yesterday we were waiting with anticipation for the first autumn leaf to turn red. Now the end of fall is here and we are now gearing up Thanksgiving.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Thanksgiving!  Not only is it a time to gather together with family and friends to give thanks to another year together, but it is my very favorite feast of the year!  If there is one thing I can never get enough of, it is the tried and true staples of the Thanksgiving meal.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes (smothered in gravy of course!) green beans, sweet potato casserole (with all those little marshmallows on top), yeast rolls, and pumpkin pie….those are just a few of my favorites.  My mouth is watering in anticipation just thinking about it!  Every family has their own different method of preparing the meal (I personally always seem to get stuck with the not-so-glamerous job of “potato peeler”) and it may seem like lot of work but the end result is a tasty holiday spread fit for a king!

I know many of you will be traveling for Thanksgiving, and because of that, some may not be planning to take on the daunting task of preparing the many dishes it takes to make up the standard feast.  I can’t blame you…it is a lot of work, especially if you don’t have an army of cooks on hand.  But the good news is if you’re spending your Thanksgiving holiday here in the NC Smokies, you’ve got plenty of dining options that will ensure you get your fill of turkey and more.  There are numerous restaurants throughout the county that will be open on November 26th and are ready for you to join them for a delicious, local Thanksgiving meal.  We always suggest booking reservations early or at least call ahead to guarantee you have a seat at their table, even if the restaurant normally doesn’t require a reservation.  We would hate for you to miss out on that all yummy turkey and dressing!

Check out the list to right for restaurants that will serving up Thanksgiving dinner.  This is the current list we have, but check back with us as there may be a few more added soon.  For more information on each restaurant and other activities to keep you busy during you’re stay, give us a call or poke around the website a bit more!  We think you’ll love everything we have to offer you for not only a tasty meal but to keep you busy during you’re stay.  We look forward to having you spend the holidays in Haywood!

Photo courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

Check out www.cataloocheevalleytours.com for more information about Esther’s fantastic eco-tours into Cataloochee Valle. You’ll experience rich history, natural beauty and of course, the reintroduced elk population and other wildlife, just like these wild turkeys!

Where to Dine on Thanksgiving Day

The Imperial – Canton

Adults $24.95/ 12 and under $12/under 5 Free

Reservations 828-492-1262

The Terrace Hotel  – Lake Junaluska

11:30 AM – 2:00 PM $21.95

828-454-7664 Reservations (walk ins possible)

The Waynesville Inn Golf Resort & Spa – Waynesville

Cork & Cleaver – Brunch

11:30 AM – 3:00 PM

The Tap Room – Thanksgiving Dinner

4:00 PM – 9:00 PM Reservations Required

828-456-3551

Cataloochee Ranch – Maggie Valley

Seatings at 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m.

Reservations Only

828.926.1401

Country Vineyard Café – Maggie Valley

Open Noon – 5:00 p.m.

Serving a traditional Turkey Dinner and limited menu

828.926.6557

J Arthur’s Restaurant – Maggie Valley

Open Noon – 6 p.m.

Serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal-$20.99; as well a limited menu

Reservations Suggested

828.926.1817

 The Maggie Valley Club – Maggie Valley

Thanksgiving Buffet from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

$26.95 per adult/$6.95 children 10 and under

Reservations Required 828-926-4848

Cataloochee Ski Area Kitchen – Maggie Valley

828-926-1285

Lake Logan Episcopal Center – Canton

Lunch 828-646-0095

Laurel Ridge Country Club -Waynesville

12:00 Buffet Style

Reservations 828-452-0545 Ext. 2

*We are still adding to our lists of restaurants for Thanksgiving Day. Please call 828-452-0152 as the holiday draws closer for more listings.*

Oct 21 2015

The Legend of the Boojum

Photo by Corrine Baker – Original painting by Cordon Bell

The Legend of the Boojum

It is that time of year again – where the days get darker and the mountains become just a bit more eerie with each passing sunset. Halloween is almost here and if you’ve followed our blog for a while, you know there is one Haywood County tall tale we share every year: The Legend of the Boojum. You may have heard this name more frequently, thanks to Waynesville’s popular craft microbrewery, Boojum Brewing.  The brewery was named after our favorite local legend, the Boojum.  So without further adieu, I give you the story of our own mystic mountain creature….

Have you ever hiked deep into the North Carolina Smokies and gotten the distinct feeling as if something was watching you? And were you certain you saw something out of the corner of your eye only to find it was just the rustling of dead leaves on a tree. But wait…was it only the leaves or was it something else? These old mountains hold a story that very few know of and even fewer have witnessed: The Legend of Boojum. Since the Halloween season is here and many of you are making plans to venture deep into the North Carolina Smokies for one last Fall hike, it’s only fitting that I share this piece of Haywood County folklore with you.

We’ve all heard of Bigfoot sightings throughout the United States and seen the supposed pictures and video footage, but little did you know that we have a similar being roaming about the Balsam Mountains of Haywood County. One might say the Boojum is similar to the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayans or the Wampas Cat in the swamps of Eastern North Carolina. But Boojum is a unique creature of his own and Haywood County is his home. Though no one has actually gotten close enough to clearly describe him, its said he is around eight feet tall and mixture of both man and beast. He has thick, shaggy, gray hair and a human like face, but is by no means handsome. He is mostly seen from afar on rocky mountain cliffs or outcroppings when twilight falls and can sometimes be heard moaning deep in the woods near hiking trails. As previously mentioned, Boojum’s home is said to be in the Balsam Mountains, a range that adjoins the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Haywood County. Most folks recognize the Balsams by the notable peaks of Cold Mountain, Shining Rock, Richland Balsam, and Black Balsam Knob. While I don’t recommend going on a quest to find Boojum as he may be be quite frightening to stumble upon, he is apparently harmless unless threatened.

Boojum is best known by his two great loves: a fondness of pretty girls and his desire for the precious gemstones found throughout Western North Carolina such as rubies, amethysts, emeralds, and sapphires. It is said that in the early 1900’s, it was not uncommon for women bathing in secluded mountain streams to find they were being watched by Boojum from beneath the camouflage of mountain laurels or rhododendron bushes. The startled women would quickly grab their belongings and run away. This often conjured up an angry pack of men from the surrounding area to hunt the Boojum down, but never was he caught. He most surely retreated to one of his many hidden caves in the Balsams where he lived and hoarded his collection of gemstones. Though it is rare for anyone to find his caves, he has created a unique way of protecting his jewels by storing them at the bottom of stone jugs. He then fills the jugs with”pert’nin juice” or what is most commonly known as moonshine. Even if a gem seeker should happen to find one of his many jugs, no self-respecting mountaineer would dare waste this coveted liquid by pouring it on the ground. They would drink the contents until empty which would then be followed by a long, deep sleep. Boojum would return in the meantime and retrieve his gems, leaving the thief with nothing but a splitting headache when he awoke.

Now it is also said that Boojum was not as lonely of a soul as many thought him to be. There is the story of Boojum peering down at a beautiful local girl named Annie while she was bathing in a mountain stream but she did not run away when she noticed him watching her. Rather than taking off, she looked into his sad eyes and was instantly drawn to him. She immediately fell in love and to her family’s dismay, chose a life with Boojum among the caves of the Balsams. Though the two loved each other deeply, Boojum could not put aside his love for precious gemstones and would often leave Annie for extended periods of time in search of jewels. Lonely Annie would often search the woods for Boojum by hollering out a sound that is described as a mixture of a wild animal screech and the hoot of an owl. Boojum would often return the call and they would continue to follow each others sounds until they were reunited. It is said that this hooting sound is where the old mountain term “Hootenanny” came from, which is used to describe a party or social gathering.

The legend of Boojum is no doubt a mysterious piece of Haywood County folklore, but is it only a story? To this day, there are still tales of a tall shaggy creature roaming the Balsam Mountains so could it be that Annie and Boojum had children? We may never know, but next time you are deep in the woods of Haywood County and hear a screech you can’t quite describe or you feel an eerie sense when taking a dip in a local stream, you may just be in the presence of the Boojum. And remember, do not drink the pert’nin juice!

Credits:  Oral stories and tales from Canton and Camp Hope; “Boojum, North Carolina’s Bigfoot”, North Carolina Ghost Stories and Legends; “Bigfoot of the Balsams”, Mountain Ghost Stories and Curious Tales of Western North Carolina, by Randy Russell and Janet Barnette.  “Boojum of the Plott Balsams” by John Parris.

Oct 12 2015

Fall Foliage Report – The Peak is Upon Us!

If you are in search of fiery reds, burning oranges, and vibrant yellows, a trip to Haywood County should be in your agenda.  But you better hurry….peak fall color is almost here! Fall color fanatics will be happy to know that the colors are really starting to pop at all elevations and peak weekend for Haywood County is projected for October 16 – 18.

Now, depending on where you choose to view the colors, you may experience more or less color in certain areas.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a definite must as it is the first place to peak and the colors are currently at their best.  If you venture down the mountain into Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Canton or Clyde, you’ll find the colors have been a bit slower to turn, with some green still hanging on strong.  But regardless, if you’re looking for prime fall color, this week into next is when you want to travel to the NC Smokies.

Fall Foliage Adventures to Check Out

Best scenic drive: Hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of Maggie Valley at Soco Gap via Hwy 19.  Head North to drive 46 miles of incredible color at the highest elevations on the entire parkway.

Make stops at these mile markers for amazing photo opps, hiking trails, and more:

451.2: Waterrock Knob Parking Overlook. Visitor Information Center, Comfort Station. 4-State view including fine panorama of the Great Smoky Mountains. Trail, with pedestrian overlooks, to the Knob.

431.4: Richland Balsam Overlook. Highest point on Blue Ridge Parkway motor road. Alt. 6,047.

422.4: Devil’s Courthouse Parking Area. Strenuous 1/2 mile hike to “Courthouse” for 360 degree view.

Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway/Vicki Dameron

418.8: Graveyard Fields Overlook. Loop trail of moderate difficulty, 2.3 miles, to Yellowstone Falls.

417: Looking Glass Rock. So named because it reflects light brilliantly when water and ice are on the rock’s granite face.

408.6: Mount Pisgah. Campground w/showers, picnic area, trails, (May-November). Mount Pisgah was part of the 100,000-acre estate bought in the late 1800s by George W. Vanderbilt. The first forestry school in America was established on the estate. A large part of the woodland, the first large tract of managed forest in this country, became the nucleus of Pisgah National Forest.

Other Prime Fall Foliage Viewing Spots:

Max Patch Hiking Area – Scenic Bald with a moderate loop hiking trail. Take I-40 West to exit 7 (Harmon’s Den). Take a right on Cold Springs Road and take the winding gravel road for a little over 6 miles to the hiking area.

Cataloochee Valley – Fantastic low elevation views, elk-viewing and historic areas to explore. Take I-40 to exit 20 to Hwy 276. Go 1/4 mile and make a right on Cove Creek Rd.  Take this steep, winding road for 6 miles to cross in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Continue another 2 miles down into the valley, take a left for 3 more miles and you’ll find yourself in the valley.

Purchase Knob Hiking Area – Free hiking guides available in the Waynesville Visitor Center.  Take Hwy 276 to Hemphill Rd.  Take the road all the way to the top where it ends at a gravel road and a NPS gate.  Park and walk from here.

Photo courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

Oct 05 2015

Fall Fly Fishing Report from Hunter Banks

Fall Fly Fishing Report

Report by Aaron Motley – Fly Fishing Guide at Hunter Banks

Fishermen are truly excited with our recent change of weather in western North Carolina. The night time temperature is falling and the waters are cooling, rain is falling, and the fish are feeding. Additionally the leaves are beginning to change colors. What a fantastic time to be in WNC!

If you are coming to WNC in the next month and a half you are very likely to see October caddis flying along the stream. Several imitations of this fly are the Palmer, Elk caddis, and Stimulator in the color orange.

Delayed harvest trout waters were stocked on October 1st, and will be under catch and release regulations until the first Saturday in June.

Some flies to have with you for the delayed harvest trout waters would be Pat’s rubber legs, pheasant tails, squirmy worms, wooly buggers, and caddis larva.

For more information about current conditions, to plan a guided fly fishing trip, check out the latest and greatest gear, or to simply learn more, visit our friends over at Hunter Banks in Waynesville. Their full service shop is conveniently located at 48 N. Main St and their savvy staff look forward to talking fly fishing with you.  Whether you’ve never fished a day in your life or you are a seasoned angler, Hunter Banks will hook you up (yes, pun intended). Give them a call (828) 251-9721, stop by for a visit or head over to www.hunterbanks.com

Photos courtesy of Hunter Banks

Oct 02 2015

Travel Alert – Road Closures of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Due to the current weather situation, the Blue Ridge Parkway has issued closures and warnings for the entire 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Sections in Haywood County ARE under these closures and warnings.

Due to expected heavy rain, high winds and the threat of historic flooding in some parts of the Blue Ridge region, the Blue Ridge Parkway is again reminding visitors to use extreme caution when traveling this weekend. Parkway staff is already seeing downed trees and small rock slides. The potential for flash flooding increases the possibility of additional damage and road hazards.
As a result, the following closure information is expected to be in effect through this weekend’s weather event:

In Virginia

Sharp Top Trail Bus Service (Milepost 86) is closed through the storm event this weekend
Due to flooding earlier in the week the closure between Milepost 106-165 remains in effect
Back country camping and the fire road at Rock Castle Gorge (Milepost 168) remain closed
Traditional music concerts at Roanoke Mountain Picnic Area (Milepost 120) and Mabry Mill (Milepost 176) are cancelled for Sunday.
Living history exhibit area at Mabry Mill (Milepost 176) is open; the restaurant is closed.

In North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Music Center’s Steel Wheels concert scheduled for Saturday has been moved to The Historic Earle Theatre in downtown Mt. Airy, North Carolina
Evening programs at Julian Price Campground (Milepost 296) are cancelled; Moses Cone Manor House Upstairs Tours (Milepost 294) are expected over the weekend
All roads throughout the Pisgah District (from Milepost 317 through 469) will close Friday night, beginning at 5:00 p.m. with the entire district, including the Asheville corridor closed by 9:00 p.m.; Additional notes for Pisgah District are:
Linville Campground and Visitor Center (Milepost 316) will remain open this weekend via US221
Linville Picnic Area (Milepost 316.5) will be closed due to low lying area
Crabtree Falls Campground and Picnic Area (Milepost 339-340) is closed
Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and Picnic Area (Milepost 364-367) will be closed
Pending Saturday morning road conditions, the Folk Art Center (Milepost 382) and Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (Milepost 384) are expected to reopen via US74 or US70
The Pisgah Inn (Milepost 408.6)and Pisgah Campground (Milepost 408.8) will remain OPEN via Route 276
Waterrock Knob Visitor Center (Milepost 451) is closed
Campground and ranger-led programs for Friday and Saturday have been cancelled

Parkway staff are keeping an eye on dams, rivers, and streams and will make additional closures as necessary
Due to the nature of this weather event, information is subject to change. Visitors are encouraged to regularly check the Parkway’s online Real Time Road Map, at http://www.nps.gov/maps/blri/road-closures/, throughout the weekend for the latest road updates and opening information.

As Parkway managers prepare for possible impacts of this storm system, the top priority in all decisions is the safety and well-being of staff and visitors. The Blue Parkway is a living and fragile resource; and the public’s adherence to these warnings is vital to their personal safety as well as the protection of the Parkway.

We advise you to keep a close watch on current weather conditions and practice extreme caution on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and throughout WNC.  Downed trees, rock/mud slides, flash flooding and slippery conditions are likely throughout the region so please be careful as your travel. 

Sep 28 2015

Check out these two new guides to the NC Smokies

Photo courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

NC Smokies Bicycle Rides Guide

The NC Smokies Bicycle Ride Guide provides eleven total loop rides that showcase the many reasons why Haywood County is the perfect place to stay and ride. The rides are a compilation of routes that will take you on scenic rural roads, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and through many local communities. The rides vary in difficulty, providing options for every level of cyclist. And the best part? The guide is completely free. If you love to ride, we invite you to visit Haywood County, pick up a guide at our visitor center, and fall in love with cycling in the NC Smokies.

Check out these two new guides to the NC Smokies

If you’re an avid cyclists looking for a new path to explore or in search of the very best spots to view the majestic elk population in the Great Smokies, we’ve got you covered.  We are excited to unveil two brand new guides available for free here in Haywood County:  the “NC Smokies Bicycle Rides” guide and the “Elk in the NC Smokies” guide.  Both are hot off the press and ready for you to pick up on your next visit to Haywood County.

Elk in the NC Smokies Guide

One of Haywood County’s many claims to fame is it’s majestic elk population. The elk were reintroduced into Cataloochee Valley, a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in Haywood County in 2001. Since then they have flourished with more than 100 elk living in and around the valley. The population can be viewed throughout Cataloochee Valley and Maggie Valley.  In an effort to both educate and protect both visitors and wildlife, we have created a new Elk in the NC Smokies guide. It highlights the best places and times to view elk as well as provide interesting facts and information about these amazing animals. This guide is also free, so please stop by and pick one up for your elk viewing adventure!

Cycling and Bicycle Riding in Haywood County
Sep 21 2015

The Cycle NC “Mountains to Coast” Ride Rolls into Waynesville this Weekend

After months of planning, the time is almost here! The Cycle NC “Mountains to Coast” ride will officially roll into Waynesville starting Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27. The Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” bicycle tour is a week long cross state ride to be held September 27 to October 3, 2015.  It is one of the most popular cross-state rides in the country with well over a thousand participants every year. The ride offers exactly what it has claimed for the past seventeen years: a leisurely, yet challenging cycle tour originating in the rolling Appalachian Mountains and concluding along the salty shores of coastal North Carolina.  This year’s route will take cyclists on scenic tour originating in Waynesville, NC and concluding on the beaches of Oak Island, NC.

Photo courtesy of Adventure Cyclist

The Waynesville Recreation Center will serve as base camp for the initial kick-off and starting point for the cross state ride.  Over a thousand cyclists and their supporters will begin arriving on Friday with the majority arriving on Saturday. The main registration and welcome events will take place at the recreation center, but participants are expected to travel throughout the county over the course of the weekend to enjoy the area before they depart.  While some will camp at the recreation center, many will stay at local accommodations, dine at Haywood County restaurants, and enjoy the many other offerings that made Cycle NC select Waynesville as the starting host town.  Cyclists will then begin their journey early Sunday morning to travel 55 miles to neighboring Hendersonville, where they will spend the night before continuing on to Shelby.

Photo courtesy of Adventure Cyclist

More Cyclists on the Road

Many cyclists will be participating in a series of warm-up rides throughout Haywood County on Saturday.  This gives participants an opportunity to both experience local cycling routes and prepare themselves for the road ahead.  Because the routes will take cyclists throughout Haywood County, we ask that if you are traveling throughout Haywood County, particularly through our towns, surrounding rural roads, and any routes leading to and from the Blue Ridge Parkway, please practice caution and be on the lookout for cyclists.  The riders will be departing Waynesville early on Sunday morning taking a route from the Waynesville Recreation Center to Raccoon Road and connecting to Highway 276.  Local citizens and visitors are encouraged to come out to cheer the cyclists on along the route as they begin to depart between 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM. Cyclists will continue on to this route into Brevard and eventually on to Hendersonville.  There will be a rest area at the Cruso Fire Depart from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM on Sunday, so if you are planning to be on the roads throughout the aforementioned areas, please take extra caution to both watch and share the road with cyclists.

If you have any questions about the Mountains to Coast ride, please contact he Haywood County Tourism Development Authority office – 828-452-0152 or email anna@visitncsmokies.com.

For more information on the overall event, visit http://cnc.ncsports.org/.

Sep 14 2015

Gear up for the ride of your life in the NC Smokies

Autumn in Haywood County brings many types of visitors to the area.  Leaf-peepers in search of incredible views, backpackers in search of a scenic trail and cooler temps, cyclists in search of an uphill challenge, families in search of good old fashioned fall fun, and of course, motor touring enthusiasts in search of the greatest motorcycle rides in the country.  Well, if you happen to be any of these folks mentioned, you’re in luck because the towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde, and Lake Junaluska have all of that and more!  But today we’re going to highlight all our motor touring freinds.  If your idea of pure bliss is you, your bike and nothing but a beautiful, winding road in front of you, then Autumn in the NC Smokies is where you want to be.   Haywood County is home to an incredible collection of rides that either run throughout the county or can easily be picked up from here.  In fact, these rides are so popular that we offer our very own NC Smokies Motor Touring guide with detailed directions to twelve total rides….and the best part is it is FREE! Just call us (828-452-0152) or stop by our visitor centers to pick up your copy.

Haywood County is also home to Wheels Through Time.  Known as “the museum that runs”, the WTT collection offers several hundred American motorcycles and is not only comprehensive in its display of more than 28 makes, but offers you a cultural experience that no other transportation museum in the country can match. You will find some of the rarest and most unique motorcycles in the world…and did we mention that everything in the museum STILL RUNS?!  Wheels Through Time operates April – November, Thursday – Monday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  Admission: Adults: $12; Seniors (65 and up): $10; Children:$6.

Ready to rev up your engines and head to Haywood County this fall? Check out our Motor Touring Itinerary for a few suggestions or stop by our visitor centers to learn about more! And don’t forget we have a wide variety of accommodations to choose from, including hotels and motels in the heart of the action, cozy creekside cabins, vacation homes perched high upon the mountains, charming B&Bs and Inns, and also a variety of local campgrounds. Check ’em all out here: Lodging in Haywood County.

Aug 31 2015

Our mountains are calling…will you answer?

I don’t know about you, but there are few things I look forward to more than a long weekend.  Far too often my weekends turn into a game of catch up where I try to conquer all the tasks I was too busy to attend to during the week. But a long weekend gives you that extra time to accomplish those tasks and still have time to enjoy yourself.  And since this upcoming weekend happens to have an extra day attached to it, why not head for the cool, refreshing mountains to enjoy a little extra playtime.

Labor Day Weekend is one of my very favorite long weekends. It not only honors the hard work and labor of the American worker, but it also bids farewell to the heat of summer and welcomes the cool, freshness of fall.   This long weekend is the perfect opportunity to take that extra free time and check out something you haven’t experienced before.  Maybe it is a new hiking trail or different scenic route you haven’t taken before.  Whatever it is, this weekend is your chance to check it out.  The mountains are calling….will you answer?  Check out a few suggested activities below that are well worth your extra time this weekend.

Take a trip back in time to Cataloochee Valley

Start your day bright and early with a visit to see the reintroduced elk of Cataloochee Valley, which are most visible during dawn and dusk. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty.  The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds.  The tranquil scenery is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing, and preserved buildings from the early 1900’s, there is plenty to explore in the valley.  Want a guided tour of the valley? Check out Cataloochee Valley Tours!

*Bonus* – September – October is when the elk enter “rut” which is their mating season.  Male elk “bugle” to attract females and challenge other bulls. This is a particularly interesting time to visit Cataloochee, but please practice caution and keep your distance from the elk. Remember – It is illegal to approach elk in the national park.

Photo courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

Ride the Twists & Turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway

The 46 miles of the blue Ridge Parkway that run through Haywood County are one of the most popular attractions in the area.  Haywood County is home to the highest elevated section on the entire parkway, so that means you’ll find some of the very best long range views at our 74 vistas and overlooks. Hop on the parkway entrance just outside of Maggie Valley and head North towards Canton for an exquisite drive through the Balsam Mountain Range, which is where Haywood ‘s native bluegrass band, Balsam Range, got the inspiration for their name. Stop for a hike and incredible views at Waterrock Knob, Richland Balsam (highest point on the parkway) Graveyard Fields and Devils Courthouse, just to name a few.

Snag your Catch of the Day on the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters

Want to try your hand at trout fishing but not ready to make the commitment to a full fishing license? Purchase a 3-day, $5.00 fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This special 3-day license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday – Friday, 8-5 at 888-248-6834.  Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box?  No worries! Stop by the Maggie Valley Visitor Center and pick up a free tackle box filled with 6 lures/flies and you can borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod. You can also pick up a map of the heritage trout waters so you know exactly where the fish will be biting.

 

Enjoy the Height of Harvest Season

Did you know Haywood County is home to over 700 farms encompassing more than 56,000 acres? Needless to say, Haywood County is a hub for delicious agritourism offerings and this time of year is the height of harvest season.  Grab a “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide and let the tasty tour begin. Stop by one the county’s many produce stands, tailgate markets or farmers market for a true taste of Haywood County.  Or make plans to dine at one of our incredible farm to table restaurants for mouthwatering local flavor. You’ll also find a variety of U-Pick farms, specialty retail shops, nurseries, historic preservation sites, and much more.  Embark on your Haywood County agriadventure this weekend! Visit www.buyhaywood.com to learn more.

These experiences are only a few of the many ways to occupy your long weekend in the NC Smokies.  This weekend is also host to several special events and countless other exciting activities to enjoy throughout the towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde. Just poke around this website a little more and your guaranteed to find just what you’re looking for!  Got questions or need suggestions?  Give us call – 800.334.9036. We’ll help you plan a long weekend that you will be talking about long after you leave!

Aug 24 2015

Early Fall Color Report – A Stunning Leaf Season is Predicted

The verdict is in and one thing is for certain: Haywood County is the place to be this autumn for incredible fall foliage. According to the early report from our friends over at Western Carolina University, this fall is going to play host to some of the most beautiful autumn color in years. Haywood County’s rolling Smoky Mountains, 46 miles of scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and miles of pristine hiking trails make the county one of the very best destinations for prime leaf-lookin’.  To get the full scoop, check out the full article below, courtesy of The Asheville Citizen Times.  And make sure you book your stay in Haywood County soon!  We may be a bit partial, but we think the towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde are the very best spots to stay and play this fall.  See you soon in the NC Smokies!

WCU professor predicts stunning fall leaf season

Due to a drier than usual spring and summer, the fall leaf color in the mountains of Western North Carolina should be putting on a more spectacular show than it has in many years, according to Western Carolina University’s autumnal season prognosticator Kathy Mathews.

Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU, gives her annual prediction of how foliage around the region will perform as the sunlight of summer wanes and days become frosty.

She specializes in plant systematics and bases her color forecast on both past and predicted weather conditions. She believes the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, but especially as fall comes around the bend.

“This fall could be one of the best leaf color seasons in Western North Carolina in recent memory,” Mathews said. “Three words explain it — unusually dry weather.”

U.S. Geological Survey records indicate the region had been drier than normal for most of the year, but with enough rain, particularly in April and June, to avoid drought and keep the trees healthy, she said.

Rainfall so far this year at Asheville Regional Airport is 25.73 inches, said Doug Outlaw, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, South Carolina. Normal rainfall through August is typically 30.04 inches, he said, so the region is running a rainfall deficit of 4.31 inches.

In August, Asheville has had 2.4 inches so far, which is only .43 inches below normal of 2.83 inches for the month.

Outlaw said the three-month forecast for precipitation should be just a little above normal, mainly for far southeastern mountains around Franklin, Robbinsville, and Murphy, but for most of the WNC mountains, it’s equal chances for above or below normal.

Through August 2014, the region had 29.99 inches of rain, which was very close to being normal. The total rainfall for 2014 was 46.91 inches. A normal average rainfall is 45.57.

Sugar concentrations in the leaves increase during dry weather because the trees are not taking up as much water through their roots, Mathews said. The abundance of sugars leads to the production of more anthocyanins, the red pigments that appear when green chlorophyll begins receding.

“That’s what causes the leaf colors to really pop, along with the simultaneous appearance of orange and yellow pigments on the same or different tree species,” she said.

Meteorologists are predicting a light hurricane season in the Atlantic this year, partly because of dry air over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean caused by El Niño, and that reduces the chances of heavy rain and big wind storms in the mountains in August and September — good news for the leaf display, Mathews said.

Leaf-peepers always want to know when the “peak color” will happen, but the timing of the color change is highly dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said.

“The peak of fall color often arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations, above 4,000 feet, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, 2,500 to 3,500 feet,” Mathews said. Visitors can look for leaves to be peaking in color intensity a few days after the first reported frost in any particular area, she said.

Regardless of all factors that affect leaf color, visitors to Western North Carolina always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a wide range of color made possible by the region’s elevations ranging from 1,500 feet to over 6,000 feet and the more than 100 tree species, Mathews said.

-Article courtesy of the Asheville Citizen-Times

Aug 18 2015

Labor Day Weekend – The Grand Finale of Summer in the Smokies

Don't fret....summer in the Smokies isn't over yet. Enjoy one last adventure and join us in Haywood County for the grand finale of the summer season: Labor Day Weekend.

As the yellow buses begin to roll and your kids get back to their normal school-year routines, you may feel like summer is officially over.  The new school year starts this week in Haywood County and for many of you, school started several weeks ago while some of you are still awaiting the first day back.  But regardless of where you are or when school begins, we are here to let you know that summer is not over yet! There are several more weeks left of wonderfully warm weather in Haywood County and there are plenty of adventures still to be had!

Many mark Labor Day Weekend as the official closing of summer as we gather to bid farewell to the long days of sunshine and prepare to welcome the cool, crisp days of autumn.  Therefore, what better time is there to plan that one last family adventure?  A long weekend in the cool, refreshing mountains of Haywood County not only provides variety of local events to celebrate the grand finale of summer, but there is no better time to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.  Breathe in one last sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway, catch just one more trout on Jonathan Creek, or take one final plunge into the cool waters of Sunburst Swimming Hole. To learn about more activities, head over to our Experiences page.

If you’re in the mood for an authentic Labor Day Weekend experience, we suggest two events in particular: The Smoky Mountain Folk Festival and the Canton Labor Day Festival. For years, these two festivals have served as the quintessential events of Labor Day here in Western North Carolina.  No Labor Day in Haywood is complete without a free slice of watermelon at the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival or waving to Miss.

Labor Day at the Canton Labor Day Parade. Kicking off the weekend is the 45th Annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival taking place September 4 – 5 at Lake Junaluska. This event offers two days of the finest traditional Appalachian music and dance including a rich variety of the region’s finest fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers, and square dance teams as well as the marvelous sounds of the dulcimer, harmonica, jew’s harp, bagpipes, spoons, saws, and folk ensembles.

Then head over to Canton on September 5 – 7 for the 109th Canton Labor Day Festival, the longest running Labor Day Festival in the Southeast. This FREE three-day music festival features 20 bands, a kids village, awesome vendors, local food trucks, and much more. Saturday hosts the WNC Country Roots & Rock Experience; Sunday hosts the Papertown Bluegrass Jam (featuring Haywood’s own awarding winning boys of bluegrass Balsam Range); Monday finishes up with the Canton Heritage Homecoming complete with the annual Labor Day Parade.

To learn more about other events taking place, visit our Calendar of Events.

For more info, visit Canton Labor Day Festival

For more info, visit the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

Aug 11 2015

Guest Blog Winner – “Small Mountain Town The Perfect Home”

Summer view of Lake Junaluska

Earlier this summer, Visit NC Smokies held a “Selfie in the Smokies” Facebook contest where the winner was invited to write a guest blog for our website.  We are happy to announce that the winner of the contest was Kim Gardner of Waynesville!  She shared some of the many reasons why she loves Haywood County and why you should come experience it for yourself! We hope you enjoy reading her post as much as we did!  Congratulations and great work, Kim!

Small Mountain Town the Perfect Home

By Kim Gardner

I never imagined I’d live somewhere other than Florida.

Born and raised in Florida, the mountains of western North Carolina were a flicker of awareness in my mind. My grandparents left Florida for Hayesville when I was quite young and I visited the area several times. But my heart belonged to Florida, until 2006.

That summer, we vacationed at Lake Lure. We used the time share as our base while we explored the region. We visited waterfalls, walked around downtown Asheville and enjoyed a visit with my half-sister, Sherri, and her family at their home in Haywood County.

On our second night in the mountains, my husband, Matt, and I looked at each other and said, “We need to move here.” Since my background is in journalism and Matt works in construction, we decided it would be easier if I found a job first. I logged onto the computer immediately, set out resumes and met with several businesses, only to experience disappointment. We left with North Carolina on our minds but no clear plan of when we could move.

A year later, we were preparing for a trip to Wisconsin to visit family. On a lark, I got on a website for journalism jobs and discovered three newspapers hiring in this area. I asked Matt if he still wanted to make the move and with his encouragement, I emailed my resume to the papers and off to Wisconsin we went. I had two phone interviews while on vacation, and the weekend after our trip my mom and I hopped in the car and headed to the mountains.

I ultimately chose an offer from the Mountaineer in Waynesville. Excitement, nerves and giddiness kept the adrenalin flowing as we packed up to move in three weeks. We had a three-vehicle caravan to Haywood County – my mom and our daughter in one car, myself driving my minivan and Matt bringing up the rear with the moving truck. About two hours into our drive, my car blew a head gasket. My mom and daughter continued on to Clyde to stay with my sister. Matt and I found a tow (after waiting several hours for the rental place to open) for my van and back on the road we went.

Our bad luck didn’t end there. A friend of mine from high school offered his vacation house in Maggie Valley to use as temporary housing. He bailed on us when we were in Georgia. Matt and I finally made it to Haywood County and spent the first two days living in the Days Inn in Canton. Then we decided camping would be more economical, so off we moved to a campground near Jonathan Valley Elementary.

Kim’s husband, Matt, and their son, Charlie, take advantage of the snow.

Freshly picked local blackberries

Kim’s daughter, Madi, at a Waynesville Block Party in 2011

That was eight years ago and we never looked back. Since our move to Waynesville, a little boy has joined our family. With two kids, one couldn’t ask for a better place to raise a family. We love Waynesville and it is the perfect place for us.

We live in a neighborhood near downtown Waynesville. It’s a wonderful place to live, where we know our neighbors. There are plenty of kids of various ages and they all spend their days outside making forts, jumping on trampolines, riding bikes or playing in the creek that runs through our back yard. Our neighborhood is one where kids can be kids.

We love Waynesville’s festivals and block parties. These events give us an opportunity to visit our favorite downtown stores and meet up with friends. While I love our various festivals, my favorite is the block party. There is something for everybody, from live music to kids’ play area, and we get a chance to visit with friends and neighbors. The block parties tend to have a “locals” feel to them, whereas the other festivals are typically packed with tourists.

Speaking of knowing people, we love our small town because everyone knows each other. A trip to Ingles or Walmart becomes a social visit since you are bound to run into at least one person you know. Small talk with everyone is the norm, something you won’t find in a big city.

Waynesville has such wonderful small businesses and restaurants that we love to support. I can walk to one of our farmers’ market and love Christopher Farms. I love our school system and our daughter has made wonderful friends. Our son attends a great daycare and I know every teacher truly love each child in their care.

We came from a city of 165,000 in South Florida, full of traffic jams and rude people. What keeps us in Waynesville is our love for such a unique, small town. We feel safe here, we know and like our neighbors, and everyone is friendly. I couldn’t image living anywhere else. Waynesville, along with the rest of Haywood County, provides a plethora of activities. I think this sets Haywood County apart from the rest of the region. We’ve got hiking, swimming, fishing, snow skiing, horseback riding and so much more to offer residents. Cataloochee Valley is a true treasure with elk roaming and vacant buildings to explore that once housed settlers.

Since I grew up in Florida, I didn’t experience season changes. Having four distinct seasons is something I really love. Flower buds provide dabs of color as the grey winter eases into spring. Summer is a great time to hike our many trails off the Blue Ridge Parkway and cool off in a brisk, mountain swimming hole. Fall is brilliant with all the colors as the trees preparing for winter. It’s also a great time for bon fires and corn mazes and the Apple Festival. Winter is a magical time. It turns the town white and pristine, and adults get the chance to be kids again. I love sledding and building snowmen with my family. It’s fun experiencing nature’s changes, in which I’m still in awe.

Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else but Waynesville.

View from the top of Devil’s Courthouse

Jun 17 2015

Hike Sam’s Summits Loop Trail

After this past weekend, I have a new favorite hike: the Sam’s Summits Loop Trail.  Located in the Shining Rock Wilderness area of Haywood County, this unique hike offers all the great components of a well-rounded loop trail hike that can be completed in less than a day.  As you may have seen in past blogs, Haywood County now offers a beautifully illustrated map of the Sam’s Summit Loop Trail thanks to local naturalist, Ken Czarnomski.  This map was the second in his series of maps that highlight easily accessible, year-round hikes in Haywood County.  It is exclusive to Haywood County as Ken spent many hours hiking, cataloging, mapping and hand-drawing this map to share with visitors to the area.  So after much anticipation, this past weekend I grabbed a copy of the map from the Waynesville Visitor Center, packed up my fiance and dog into our Subaru and hit the trail.

Sam's Summits View

One of the many incredible views from along the trail

Mountain Laurel in bloom

The loop is actually a combination of three main trails: the Mountains to Sea Trail, Little Sam trail and Flat Laurel Creek Trail.  Much of the trail is not blazed so you need to pay attention at the trail intersections, which are marked. You will start on the Mountains to Sea trail which is a white blaze and the most marked of the three trails.  The first intersection you come to is for Devil’s Courthouse.  You can either continue left on the trail, or go right to take the Devils Courthouse trail. Devils Courthouse provides long rang panoramic views from atop a unique rock structure.  Coming back from the Courthouse remember to turn right back onto the Mountains to Sea trail. In about a 1/4 mile distance you will come to another intersection called Little Sam Trail.  You will take that until it intersects the Flat Laurel Creek Trail where you will turn left.  I did not see a marker designating the Flat Laurel Creek trail at this point, but by following the map, I knew it was the point where we needed to turn left, which is a sharp left, almost a switch back.

Wildcat Falls

After a while on the trail, you will see the rock crossing to Sams Knob on the right.  You can choose to take this trail to the top or continue on your way on the Flat Laurel Creek Trail.  The views at the top of Sams Knob are 360 degrees, so it is well worth the hike.  When returning take the same route back to Flat Laurel Creek and make a right to continue along the trail.  It will eventually bring you to the head of the trail and out on Hwy 215.  You will walk up 215 to bring you back to the parking area.  The loop took us about 5 hours to cover seven miles.  We did not hike to Devils Courthouse or Sam’s Knob as we wanted to save those for another day. If you hike both of these it will add another 2 to 2.5 hours to your hike. depending on your pace and stops.  Make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks and a lunch.  In my opinion, the first half of the trail is the most strenuous as that is where you make most of the elevation climb but once you hit Flat Laurel Creek, it is an easy, leisurely hike until the end.

Some of my favorite highlights:

  • You will go through three distinct ecological zones. One of my favorites was the Spruce plantation.  It was so peaceful, quiet and unexpected.
  • Creek Crossings – You come across several creek crossings that have easy rock hops or a bridge. Our dog was a big fan of these crossings as they were shallow enough for him to wade and cool off in.
  • A beautiful cascade near the end of Flat Laurel Creek called Wildcat Falls.  If you’re lucky like we were, there will be fellow hikers in the area to take a picture of you in front of it.
  • The many unique natural features along the way.  From massive rock formations to countless natural water features, there was something beautifully unique around every bend.  Also, depending on the time of year, the wildflowers are incredible.  The rhododendron and mountain laurel were in full bloom giving the perfect pops of color along the trail.
  • And of course, the views.  Because of the descent early on, the elevation offers great views from the start, but throughout the hike there are incredible views all around you.  Take time to stop and enjoy.

Many natural creeks along the trail are not only beautiful, but a great way to cool off. Just ask Patton!

All in all, this is a fantastic hike that I highly encourage you to check out on your next visit to Haywood County.  And don’t forget to check out Ken’s other hiking map of Purchase Knob, located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  You can pick up both maps for free at either the Waynesville or Maggie Valley Visitor Centers or you can have one mailed to you by calling 800-334-9036. Between the two hikes, you can’t go wrong!

Happy hiking!

May 26 2015

Learning to Fly Fish in the NC Smokies

I finally learned to fly fish. Well at least the basics of fly fishing.  If you follow our blog, you know that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking and exploring, but I know very little about fly fishing.  After my previous blog several weeks ago that included a spring fly fishing report, I told our local fly fishing contact, Aaron Motley at Hunter Banks  how much I loved these reports but wished I actually understood them.  So Aaron was kind enough to offer to take me out on the river to show me the ropes.  Boy, was I was excited!

This great spot is located almost a mile above Lake Logan on Hwy 215

Last week, Aaron and I headed up the west fork of the Pigeon River just above Lake Logan on Hwy 215.  This area is part of the Cold Mountain Game Lands which at this particular time of year offers catch and release fishing.  This is a popular area for fly fishing because while we were first ones there that morning, it didn’t take long for others to join us.  Aaron gave me a run down of the area and that he would be teaching me the basics of casting and other necessary techniques like mending and setting the hook when I felt a strike.  After we suited up in our waders and headed down to the creek, we realized we had made a major mistake.   I didn’t have a fishing license (this is where I slapped my forehead in the utter disbelief that I was that silly to forgotten a fishing license).  How could I make plans to go fly fishing and NOT have bought a license?! I was not going to tell all of you about my embarrassing mistake, but thought it would be a good example to use to remind you that you are required to have a North Carolina fishing license if you plan to do any type of fishing on inland or coastal waters, even if you are with an outfitter.  There are different variations of licenses based upon the type of activity, length of license, residency and age.  To learn more and to buy a license, visit www.ncwildlife.org.

So many decisions…

So after we called in a fishing license for me, we were ready to get down to business.  After a rundown of the different types of flies and how to set up the rod, I was ready.  I will go ahead say this: fly fishing looks a lot easier when a professional guide is doing it than when you are a first timer.  Aaron made it look so flawless and simple.  My first few casts were terrible and I felt like I was going to get my line caught on everything around me.  But after some trial and errors, I was well on my way.  One of the things I loved the most about fly fishing was the strategy behind it.  I grew up spin fishing with my dad in our pond and on local rivers, but quickly grew bored and was more concerned about climbing trees or swimming in the river.  Fly fishing involves constant movement and strategy to catch a fish; you don’t just cast and wait for your bobber to get a tug like spin fishing.  While this was only my first time and I am extremely novice in my skills, I can see why this is such an enjoyable sport.  There is a thrill in perfecting your technique and understanding the flow of the river and finding the right way to float your fly.  There is a lot to remember too.  Mending the line, which is a method used after the line is on the water to achieve a drag free float took me a while to get right.  I also would get a bit over excited when I felt tension on the line from a fish and didn’t set my hook very well.  I hooked a total of three fish and only brought in one.  But that was all I needed to get hooked.  I landed a beautiful rainbow trout that was my pride and joy of the day.  It was such an incredible feeling and was a wonderful experience!  I can’t wait to give it another try.

My first and only catch of the day, but proud none the less

If you are interested in learning the basics of fly fishing like I did or if you are experienced and just want to cast your line with a fun and professional local outfitter, check out Hunter Banks in Waynesville.   Check out their main website www.hunterbanks.com or visit their Facebook page: Hunter Banks – Waynesville.

May 18 2015

There is something brewing in Haywood County…

Mad Anthonys Bottle Shop

Haywood County’s latest craft beer business, Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop & Beer Garden opens this weekend – Photo courtesy of Mad Anthony’s Facebook Page

While North Carolina Beer Month (April) may be over, there is still A LOT brewing around Haywood County.  Our four local microbreweries have a variety of seasonal taps available like Boojum Brewing’s Tropical Green Tea Pale Ale and the Folkmalt Mango Lager at Bearwaters Brewing in addition to our favorite year-round taps like the Salamander Slam IPA at Frog Level Brewing and the Plott Hound Porter at Tipping Point Brewery. Waynesville has the highest concentration of microbreweries west of Asheville in Western North Carolina, so if you love great beer and incredible views, Waynesville is where you want to be.  And speaking of Waynesville, do you know how the town got its name?  Revolutionary War General “Mad” Anthony Wayne is where the town’s title originated and is the namesake of the town’s newest brew-business, slated to open this week.  Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop and Beer Garden will open its doors at 124 Branner Ave on May 22nd in Waynesville with plans to have 40 rotating taps and 300 unique bottles of craft beer, cider and wine. Mad Anthony’s promises to be a hub for delicious craft beer, live music and other local events.  Check them out and follow them here: Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop & Beer Garden.

 

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Save the Date for The Waynesville Craft Beer Faire – August 15, 2015

Looking for a celebration of all things craft beer?  Go ahead and buy your tickets and book your accommodations for the Waynesville Craft Beer Faire on August 15, 2015.  Western North Carolina has exploded with thriving craft breweries including four in Waynesville alone. The Waynesville Craft Beer Faire celebrates the rapid growth of beer culture in Waynesville and all of WNC.  The Faire features tastings from dozens of local and regional craft breweries, great local music, fine foods, homebrew and educational displays. Located within walking distance from historic downtown Waynesville at the American Legion Post 47,  attendees to the Waynesville Craft Beer Faire will have easy access to local farm to table restaurants, unique shops and galleries and a variety of local entertainment.  To buy your tickets and learn more: Waynesville Craft Beer Faire.

 

Also, don’t forget to head over to Blue Ridge Outdoors’ website and participate in their “Best Sixer Ever – Craft Beer Contest”. It is no secret that the outdoor adventure industry pairs perfectly with the booming craft beer scene and it is no different in Haywood County. This area of the North Carolina Smokies is serving up a unique flight of outdoor adventure and delicious craft brews, which is why Haywood County has chosen to be the head sponsor for Blue Ridge Outdoors Beer Contest. Home to 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a large portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haywood County and its five towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde are a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. From the hardcore backpacker to the leisurely leaf looker, the North Carolina Smokies offer year-round activities for all ages and skill levels. And what could be more perfect after a long day on the trail than kicking back with a delicious craft brew?  So head over to the “Best Sixer Ever” contest and build your perfect six pack…you’ll even find one of Waynesville’s own breweries to choose from.

 

Cheers!!

 

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May 13 2015

“Live Like a Local” on you next vacation to Haywood County

When you travel, do you like to go where the locals go, eat where the locals eat and do what the locals do?  That is actually a very common request we get from visitors to Haywood County.  We often get calls asking where the best local hang outs are, where the locals love to eat and so on.  We are proud to offer one of a kind authentic experiences in our area and we have our locals to thank for providing these incredible offerings.  No one knows this county better than our locals and they know where to find the best experiences in town.  So this week, we wanted to share a very special itinerary we put together that has received the local “seal of approval” and highlights some our favorite local eateries and activities.  Check it out the next time you visit Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, Clyde and Lake Junaluska so you can live like a local for a few days.  And a trust us…it is a pretty awesome way to live!

 

“Live Like a Local” Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

Breakfast at Sherrill’s Pioneer Restaurant

8363 Carolina Blvd, Clyde, 28721

If you want to know where the locals go for breakfast, a good place to start is Sherrill’s Pioneer Restaurant. At “The Pioneer” (as the locals call it) you will find all the staples of a down-home country-style breakfast. Order up a helping of biscuits and gravy and ask your waitress to tell you a little more about “The Big Gun” across the street. We guarantee you will leave feeling like a local!

Time for an Agri-Adventure!IMG_6209

Haywood County locals are proud of their rich agricultural heritage, so what better way to learn about that than getting a first hand experience with the area’s local growers and producers. Stop by a Haywood Visitor Center and pick up a free copy of Buy Haywood’s “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide. Spend your morning enjoying the area’s many “agri-experiences” that are featured around the county. From picking a bushel of fresh berries to visiting a sustainable trout farm at the foot of Cold Mountain, there are so many fresh experiences that you may have a hard time choosing where to start.

Lunch at The Imperial

117 Main St, Canton 28716

Head to The Imperial for lunch while you recap your fun in Haywood County.  Located in a historic turn of the century  building, it  is the perfect place to grab a tasty bite among the locals. You’ll find a wide variety of local favorites in a relaxed atmosphere.  If you love history, grab a handout from the hostess and take a stroll around the building to learn more about the restored Victorian styled Inn that was originally built in the late 1800’s.

skinny dip falls

Skinny Dip Falls

Cool down this afternoon at a local swimming hole, Skinny Dip Falls. Take Hwy 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and head south. Pull off near mile marker 417, which is near the Looking Glass Rock overlook.   A moderate, short hike will take you to a natural waterfall and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. Take a cool dip or sun yourself on the rocks. If you continue on the trail past Skinny Dip Falls on the Mountains to Sea trail you will reach Graveyard Fields where you will find more hiking trails and waterfalls.

Dinner at The Sweet Onion

39 Miller St, Waynesville, 28786

Ask any local for a suggestion of a favorite restaurant and The Sweet Onion will definitely come up in the conversation. Their regional cuisine brings together contemporary flair with classic comfort dishes to create culinary masterpieces like the bacon-wrapped meatloaf topped with frizzle-fried onions. Conveniently located in the heart of historic downtown Waynesville, it’s the perfect spot to unwind after a busy day of exploring.

 

Pick your Evening Entertainment:

 

An Evening at the The StrandD Nicholson_Strand_wEbinger_3-27-14_A-128

38 N. Main St, Waynesville 28786

The Strand at 38 Main is a boutique cinema and intimate listening venue located in the heart of downtown Waynesville. The Strand offers an ever-changing mix of classic films, second run movies, and live music. The storefront lobby serves classic movie concessions including organic popcorn, artisan sodas by the Waynesville Soda Jerks, fresh baked soft pretzels, home made ice cream from The Hop, coffee drinks, and more!

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An Evening at The Maggie Valley Stompin’ Grounds

3116 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley 28751

Come see a variety of Appalachian and other American country dance styles performed in one place during the weekends at the Maggie Valley Stompin’ Ground. The Ivy Hill Band plays a variety of mountain and popular music‚ from old-time fiddle tunes to contemporary country hits. Dancers hit the floor dressed in fanciful outfits and perform line dancing‚ square dancing‚ clogging‚ and the two-step. Don’t be shy either! They will make you feel like a true local when they invite you to join in!

 

DAY TWO

 

Breakfast at Clyde’s Restaurant

2107 S Main St, Waynesville 28786

Clyde’s has been a landmark restaurant in Haywood County since the 1940’s so it’s obvious the locals love this place. Priding itself on traditional down home cooking, you will find all the makings of a hearty mountain breakfast served with a side of genuine Haywood County hospitality.

Haywood’s Historic Farmers MarketIMG_4064_sm

250 Pigeon St, Waynesville 28786

Mid Apr – Mid Oct: Wed & Sat – 8:00am – 12:00pm

When the locals want fresh produce and local delights, they know the place to go is Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville. Enjoy a variety of just-picked produce, heritage crafts and other local offerings among the company of residents and visitors alike. You will see why folks come from far and wide to get a taste of Haywood County!

Smoky Mountain Sub Shop

29 Miller St, Waynesville 28786

Smoky Mountain Sub Shop has been a local lunch staple for over 20 years. Their bread is baked fresh every morning in-house and they only use the freshest ingredients in their homemade soups, salads and sandwiches. Check out their monthly specials for a local deal that is sure to satisfy.

frog level beers

Check out our Craft Breweries!

If there is one thing the locals love, it’s their craft breweries. Haywood County is the proud home of four homegrown microbreweries: BearWaters Brewery, Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewery, and Tipping Point Tavern. While they are all located within a small radius of each other in Waynesville, they each have their own distinct taste. Spend the afternoon at one (or more) trying their various taps. Order up a frosty flight and don’t forget to grab a growler of your favorite to take home.

Dinner at Haywood Smokehouse

79 Elysinia Ave., Waynesville 28786

You can’t call yourself a true Haywood local unless you know where to find some of the best BBQ in town. Haywood Smokehouse is the home of “old school BBQ” and serves up a variety of smoky favorites. From traditional chopped pork and sliced brisket to smoked prime rib and homemade pecan pie, this is the place for great BBQ. Make sure you get there early because they smoke it fresh daily and when it’s gone, they close their doors. And trust us…you don’t want to miss out!

An Evening at The Classic Wine Seller

20 Church St, Waynesville 28786

The Wine Seller is where the locals go for a relaxing evening of great music and fine wine. Owened and operated by a local husband and wife “wine connoisseurs” you will find an extensive list of fine wines and wide variety of craft beers. Grab a drink along with an after dinner cheese plate and enjoy some great entertainment by one of the many talented musicicans featured each week.

 

DAY THREE

 

Breakfast at Joeys Pancake Housejoeys

4309 Soco Rd. Maggie Valley, 28751

Start your day off with a big breakfast at an authentic mountain pancake house.   Since opening in 1966, Joey’s Pancake House has been a favorite breakfast stop for visitors and locals alike. Make sure you order up a stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes because we guarantee you won’t find a better flapjack anywhere else!

Explore Cataloochee Valley

Spend the rest of the day in Cataloochee Valley. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is where several of the Haywood County’s native families originally settled. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. WithElk bull #67 - Esther Blakely - Cataloochee Valley Tours several hiking trails, streams, and historic buildings from the early 1900’s, there is plenty to explore in the valley before heading home.

 

To download a printable copy of the itinerary, click here: Live Like a Local Itinerary

 

 

**Note**

The above itinerary is a SAMPLE itinerary. It was created to provide you with an idea of the many wonderful places to visit and dine while visiting the North Carolina Smokies. Other restaurants and attractions can be substituted based on your preferences and seasonality to create a unique itinerary customized just for you. We do suggest always checking for operational dates and times before traveling. For additional help planning your next trip to Haywood County, contact us!

May 04 2015

Join us for the the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War

The second part of a three part series to commemorate the Haywood County’s Civil War Sesquicentennial, entitled Preview“Last Shot Fired” will commemorate the 150th anniversary this upcoming weekend, May 8 – 11. The weekend events Musket Demonstrations & Drillsare guaranteed to educate, entertain and appeal to history buffs of all ages.  There are many small stories and events that make up the whole tale of the “Last Shot Fired” in the Civil War east of the Mississippi and several groups in Haywood County have come together to tell these stories, reenact the battle, and commemorate this moment in history.

 

The last shot of the Civil War, east of the Mississippi, was fired during a skirmish between Thomas’s Legion, a Confederate unit also known as Thomas’s Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders, and the Union’s 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment. In early May, 1865, Lieutenant Robert T. Conley and his men from Thomas’s Legion were passing through the woods in White Sulphur Springs, North Carolina (present day Waynesville) when they stumbled into the camp of the 2nd North Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment led by Lieutenant Colonel William C. Bartlett. Conley rapidly formed a skirmish line and began firing causing the Union soldiers to run in confusion. One of Bartlett’s men, James Arwood was killed during the skirmish. The Union soldiers retreated into Waynesville and Thomas’s Legion surrounded the town. The following day, Confederate commanders General James Green Martin and Colonel William Holland Thomas (for whom the Legion was named) met with Bartlett at the Battle House in Waynesville in order to negotiate the surrender of the Union forces. Martin and Thomas Civil War Campwere made aware that General Joseph E. Johnston had capitulated in Durham, North Carolina on April 26th, so Martin and Thomas surrendered their Confederate troops instead.

 

The weekend of May 8 – 11 will be full of events like battle reenactments, memorial services, guided and self-guided tours of Haywood County’s multiple civil war sights and much more.  For a full schedule of events click here: Last Shot Fired – 150th Civil War Commemoration

 

There will be further events June 12-13 commemorating the occupation and reconstruction by federal troops. Publicity about these events will go out closer to June. For a complete itinerary, please visit www.lastshotfired.com. Information about parking and taking shuttle buses to events can be found on the website.

 

 

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Apr 28 2015

Spring Fly Fishing Report from The Hunter Banks Co.

Hunter Banks Spring 1

Spring time on the river – Photo courtesy of Hunter Banks Co. Waynesville

I love spring in Haywood County.  It is such an exciting time in the mountains because everyone begins to venture back outdoors to enjoy the many incredible activities available in our area.  I love it when people come into our visitor centers craving a new adventure as they inquire about the best local hikes, bike rides, picnic areas, scenic drives, swimming holes and the list goes on.  Now, as you know from my past blogs, I am an avid hiker and explorer so I could go on and on about my favorite hiking areas or where the freshest swimming hole in Haywood County is, but there is one local adventure that I’m going to leave to the experts: fly-fishing.  Our friends at Hunter Banks Co. in Waynesville are always on the quest to conquer the best fly-fishing areas in Haywood County and are kind enough to share that with all our readers.  Whether you’re an experienced fly-fisher or are like me and are dying to get out there and give it try for the first time, Hunter Banks can help you out. As a full service fly fishing outfitter,  no one in the area knows the waters of Haywood County any better than these guys. So without further adieu, here is your Spring Fly-Fishing Report from Aaron Motley at Hunter Banks Co:

 

As of April 1st all trout water in the state is open.

 

 

Hatchery Supported Waters We are having success on Squirmy worms, wooly buggers, Pat’s rubber legs, and pheasant tail nymphs.

 

 

Fly tying

Fly tying – Photo courtesy of Hunter Banks Co. Waynesville

Delayed Harvest Trout Waters – Are on fire with double nymph dropper systems working great! Remember split shot to get your flies down deep, it can be the difference between a fly fisher catching fish and one not catching fish. Fly selection Pheasant tails, Copper John’s, Caddis larva, and tan or light yellow elk hair caddis flies.

 

 

Wild Water – A dry fly with a nymph dropped 12-24 inches behind your dry. The length may vary based on the depth of the stream you are fishing or the velocity of the current in the stream that you are fishing. Yellow stimulators and Hare’s ear in olive or natural have been producing fish around us.

 

 

Hope this is helpful and if there is any additional information you may want on fishing in the area just call Hunters Banks Co in Waynesville at 828-251-9721 or stop by at 48 N. Main St, Waynesville.  We are also offering fly tying classes over the next four months. To learn more, click the flyer here: Fly tying 101

 

 

Come join me at our downtown Waynesville location on May 20, June 17, July 14, and August 11 for fly tying lessons. All materials, vises, and tools will be provided. Cost is $20 per participant. Class will run from 5:30 – 8:30 each evening. Each night there will be one or two patterns selected to tie, and participants will be able to work better body proportion, whip finishing, adding legs, beads, wing casings, or other materials to patterns. For more information contact Hunter Banks staff. Class size is limited to 6 participants per class, so call to reserve your spot today.

 

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Apr 20 2015

Take a Tour of Pure & Simple Haywood County

Are you planning a Smoky Mountain adventure but not sure where to start? Well that is what we are for!  We love to help folks plan their upcoming vacations to Haywood County…in fact, we love it so much that we’ve gone ahead and put together a variety of itineraries to help you make the most of your trip.  Regardless of whether you are coming to explore the outdoors, taste farm fresh food, learn about our rich history, listen to local bluegrass music, or just sit on the porch of your cabin and enjoy the view, we’ve got something to spark your interest.  With that said, we’re going to start highlighting an itinerary every couple weeks on our blog and include a link so you can download the itinerary and print it off for your next trip.

This week we are featuring a teaser of the many authentic experience you can enjoy right here in Haywood County.  We hope you enjoy it and look forward to seeing you soon in Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton & Clyde!

 

Welcome to Pure & Simple Haywood County

 

DAY ONE joeys

Breakfast at Joeys Pancake House

4309 Soco Rd. Maggie Valley, 28751

Enjoy a breakfast at an authentic mountain pancake house.   Since opening in 1966, Joey’s Pancake House has been a favorite breakfast stop for locals and visitors alike because of their incredibly delectable menu. Make sure you order up a stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes. We promise you won’t find a better flapjack anywhere else!

 

Check out the Farms Haywood County!

Spend the day exploring the diverse agricultural offerings of Haywood County. Buy Haywood’s “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide will be your map for today’s adventure and can be picked up at any Haywood County Visitor Center. Here are a few suggestions:

 

Sunburst Trout Farm – CantonOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVisit a third generation family owned and operated sustainable trout farm located below Cold Mountain and Lake Logan. Learn about the aquacultural process and how they naturally farm-raise rainbow trout to create 15 gourmet products.

 

The Ten Acre Farm – WaynesvilleMeet Danny Barrett and learn about he grows and produces a wide variety of products on his beautiful working farm. Lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, berries, sweet corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cut flowers, eggs, honey, jams & jellies.

 

The Backcross Chestnut Orchard at Cataloochee Ranch – Maggie Valley This backcross orchard, a joint project with the American Chestnut Foundation, is part of an extensive effort to restore the American chestnut to our eastern woodlands. Enjoy a private guided tour of the orchard to learn more about the American chestnut and the restoration process.

 

**Can’t decide where to go? Get a taste of several farms at once at one of Haywood County’s mutiple farmers markets and produce stands, also listed in the agritrouism guide!**

 

Lunch at Sids on Main

117 Main St., Canton, 28716

Sids on Main, located in the historic Imperial, a restored Victorian style Inn that was establshed in the late 1800’s is casual “family fine dining “at its best. They pride themselves on serving up wide variety of local favorites in a relaxed atmosphere. After lunch, grab an information sheet from the hostess to learn more about this historic Canton landmark. .

 

Ride the Blue Ridge Parkwayblue ridge parkway car

The 46 miles of twisting mountain roads that run through Haywood County are one of the most popular attractions in the area. Hop on the parkway just outside of Canton on Hwy 276 and head south toward Maggie Valley for an exquisite drive through the Balsam Mountain Range, which is where Haywood ‘s native bluegrass band, Balsam Range, got the inspiration for their name. Stop and stretch your legs at two of the counties most popular hiking areas, Graveyard Fields or Devils Courthouse, which are sure to inspire you too!

 

Dinner at The Chefs Table

30 Church St, Waynesville, 28786

The ultimate wine country dining experience awaits you at Waynesville’s legendary Chef’s Table restaurant. Fresh and local is the core philosophy of Chef and Owner Josh Monroe in his wine country cuisine. Enjoy an array of gourmet offerings, including pasta that is handmade in house, and pair it with a fine wine from their impressive collection. Reservations highly suggested.

 

2N7C8057The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre

250 Pigeon Street, Waynesville, 28786

One of the area’s cultural gems, a performance at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, or better known by the locals as The HART, is not to be missed. This year-round theatre features productions from classics like Macbeth to Broadway musicals like Hello Dolly. The company is proud of its regional and local performers and their wide range of singing and acting abilities. Check out their 2015 expansion of a second performance venue and bistro!

 

DAY TWO

 

Breakfast at Clyde’s Restaurant

2107 S Main St, Waynesville 28786

Clyde’s has been a landmark restaurant in Haywood County since the 1940’s. Priding itself on traditional down home cooking, you will find all the staples of an authentic hearty Southern breakfast. Or if you want to enjoy the finest “meat and three” dinner in Haywood County, stick around for lunch or dinner.

 

Haywood County Quilt TrailsShelton House Block

After breakfast, stop by one of our visitor centers and pick up a quilt trail guide to begin your heritage adventure. The quilt trail project helps Haywood County tell it’s history by featuring colorful and meaningful quilt squares installed on barns, public buildings, and shops around the community. Spend the morning visiting and learning the stories of the almost 50 blocks scattered throughout the county.

 

The Shelton House

49 Shelton St, Waynesville 28786

The Shelton House was built in 1875 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Housed in and around the Shelton House, the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts features comprehensive exhibits of 19th century crafts. This is also one of the featured stops on the Haywood County Quilt Trails.

 

Lunch at City Bakery

18 N Main St, Waynesville, 28786

Known for their homemade artisanal bread and baked goods, they offer a wide range of fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and sweet treats made from locally grown and produced ingredients.

 

Check out our Craft Breweries!boojum brew

You must be getting thirsty! Haywood County is the proud home of four microbreweries: BearWaters Brewing Co., Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing and Tipping Point Tavern & Brewery. Spend the afternoon at one (or more) trying their various taps. Order up a frosty flight and don’t forget to grab a growler of your favorite to take home.

 

Dinner at Frankie’s Trattoria

1037 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, 28751

Since the 1970’s, the Perrone family has been serving up authentic Italian feasts and they have continued to stay true to their roots at Maggie Valley’s finest Italian restaurant, Frankie’s Trattoria. Frankie’s prides itself on being a true Italian trattoria by offering incredible Italian food in a casual environment. As one of Haywood County’s many farm-to-table restaurants, you will enjoy fresh, premium ingredients in all their dishes. Add in their great wine list and you’ve got a wonderful evening in store!

 

Maggie Valley Opry House

3605 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley 28751

As one of the many stops on the Blue Ridge Music Trail, the Maggie Valley Opry House may be a simple building but is alive with authentic homegrown mountain music! You will spend the evening enjoying live traditional bluegrass and mountain music accompanied by legendary bluegrass artist, Raymond Fairchild.

 

DAY THREE

 

Step Back in Time at Cataloochee ValleyElk bull #67 - Esther Blakely - Cataloochee Valley Tours

Start your day bright and early with a visit to see the reintroduced elk population of Cataloochee Valley, which are most visible during dawn and dusk. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. The tranquil scenery is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing, and preserved buildings from the pioneer settlement in the early 1900’s, there is plenty to explore in the valley.

 

Brunch at Frogs Leap Public House

44 Church St., Waynesville 28786

Enjoy brunch at Frogs Leap Public House for a truly “unique farm-to-fork experience.” FLPH is one of the best local restaurants to enjoy the farm fresh items as they pride themselves on utilizing as many local homegrown ingredients as possible. You will find the menu is ever changing in order to incorporate what is currently in season.Shopping in Downtown Waynesville

 

Shopping in Downtown Waynesville

Before you depart, spend sometime strolling down Waynesville’s historic Main St. and visiting the many specialty stores that line both sides of the street. This area underwent a successful revitalization project several decades ago that restored the small town to it’s original quaint mountain charm. You will find just the right gift to take home with you as a remembrance of your unique, homegrown vacation in Haywood County, NC!

 

Download a printable copy of the itinerary here: Pure & Simple Haywood County

 

 

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Apr 13 2015

Cataloochee Valley Named “10 Best US Safaris” by Fodors Travel

elk in cataloochee - Esther Blakely - Cataloochee Valley Tours

Elk in Cataloochee Valley – Courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours

Did you know that you don’t have to trek all the way to Africa just to experience an authentic wildlife safari? You might just be surprised to find there are some really unique ways to get up close and personal with wildlife here in the US, including right here in Haywood County.  We are excited to announce that the Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was recently listed by Fodors Travel as one of the “10 Best US Safaris”, and rightfully so.

 

As the birthplace of the reintroduced elk population into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee Valley is home to more than 140 wild elk who roam freely throughout the valley and surrounding mountains. The elk were reintroduced into the valley in 2001 and have since flourished in this remote and scenic area of the Great Smokies.  A trip into the valley provides you with incredible sights of these majestic animals in their natural environment; there are no pens or barriers separating you from the wildlife so it just like an African wildlife safari.  The elk are most commonly viewed in the valley’s open fields at dawn and dusk as they often take to the dense forests surrounding the valley during the day and at night.  You may even get a chance to view a variety of other wildlife that call the valley home like wild turkeys and even black bears.  Cataloochee Valley also home to rich Appalachian history as it was one of the area’s early 19th century pioneer settlements.  Several of the original homes, a church and even a school-house are still present in the valley and can be explored by visitors.  You will also find several hiking trails to adventure on and a pristine mountain stream running through the valley that serves as a perfect backdrop for a family picnic.

 

If you’re planning to go: The road into Cataloochee Valley starts off paved but turns to a winding gravel dirt road as your venture further in.  Please use caution and be courteous to other drivers when passing on-coming traffic.  If can often take 45 minutes to and hour to reach the heart of the valley, but it is worth every moment.  There are bathroom facilities in the park as well as a campground, but you won’t find any other modern conveniences, so plan accordingly.  If you want to make even more of your safari experience with guided tour of the valley, check out Cataloochee Valley Tours, who specialize in private eco-tours of the valley. Whether you choose to take an eco-tour or explore the valley on your own, please keep in mind that the animals you will encounter are wild for a reason.  Please practice caution and do not attempt to approach or harass the wildlife as it is dangerous for both you and the animal.

 

To learn more about Cataloochee Valley and to plan your trip, click here: Cataloochee Valley – NPS

 

Happy Exploring!

 

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Apr 06 2015

Wheels Through Time Now Open!

Wheels Through Time Museum, home to the world’s premier collection of rare American Vintage Motorycles, opened for the 2015 season on Thursday, April 2. Located 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, in