Winding through the middle of town, the railroad tracks in Black Mountain seem a defining feature of the 1893 town named for the old depot in the Swannanoa Valley of the Black Mountain Range. Known for shopkeepers and craftsmen as interesting as their wares, Black Mountain is often described as eclectic by townspeople and visitors. With a population of 7,511 according to the 2000 U.S. Census, this is the place to find square dancing, hand-crafted dulcimers, forged iron works, wood turned bowls, and hand-thrown pottery, alongside antiques, fiber arts, galleries, home décor, and artisan jewelry.
Spiritual seekers often find their way to Black Mountain. The area is home to five Christian retreat centers including Ridgecrest, Blue Ridge Assembly, the Cove, Christmount, and the Montreat Conference Center at Montreat College. A number of well-known evangelists and missionaries reside in the area.
New thought spiritual centers in the area include the Center for Spiritual Living and the Light Center. Notably, the intentional community of Earthaven Ecovillage aspires to build sustainable, consensus based community here, inspiring the creation of other formal and informal intentional communities in the area.
Droves of people turn out for Black Mountain events and festivals. The Lake Eden Arts Festival, or L.E.A.F., with an international sensibility and bohemian culture, is held twice annually. The Sourwood Festival and Black Mountain Art and Crafts Show also attract a loyal following. Area nature attractions and trails include Mount Mitchell, the Swannanoa River, Mount Pisgah, Craggy Gardens, Cold Mountain, and Graveyard Fields.