Asheville is just the beginning. After you have experienced many of the things that Asheville has to offer, you may want to check out some of the neighboring cities and towns. Western North Carolina features a bunch of places where you can spend the day, or a few days, and get to know the many sub-cultures in the area. To name a few places, there is Black Mountain, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Weaverville; and Brevard where we recently visited for such a wonderful and delicious food tour!
When we went to Brevard North Carolina, we met our Brevard Bites tour guide Matt at our first stop, Wine Down. After a brief introduction, the Prosecco and cheese was served and everyone enjoyed their first bite.
The second stop was at The Proper Pot where we had some amazing chocolate truffles and coffee.
Then it was down the street to the Blue Ridge Bakery for stop number three. The Spanakopita was just delicious, as well as everything else on that plate.
Hobnob was our fourth stop on the food tour, and this is now on our “must eat” list of spots in Brevard NC!
Then we went over to Jordan Street Cafe for stop number 5, and the Salmon was so good, plus we also got a sneak taste of their homemade coconut cake.
Stop number seven was “2 fer 1” at Brevard Brewing where we had some beer, accompanied by some of the tastiest Mexican food I have ever had, by El Quixote. We will pay them a visit real soon!
Last was dessert, of course, and we went to Kiwi Gelato to try a few of their delish flavors, the perfect end to this yummy tour.
Yes, Western North Carolina is in full bloom! Have you been out taking photographs of the wildflowers or perhaps just enjoying them? If so I have a great resource for you on how to identify them!
Considered to be the classic botanical handbook inside you will find color images of hundreds of flowers, trees, shrubs, etc. As a photographer I use this book during the year to identify the stunning plants I capture and share online. It is a must have for anyone who enjoys being out in nature and wants to learn more about the flora of the region.
If you are unsure of where to find the gorgeous displays of flowers in the area pair this book with Kevin Adams “North Carolina’s Best Wildflower Hikes-The Mountains.” In it you will find directions, maps, descriptions of trails, the types of flowers blooming and when; accompanied with beautiful visuals.
Both of these volumes will keep you busy throughout the spring season here in the mountains and for many more adventures to come!
Letters from Asheville and Beyond: A Fictional Journey into Western North Carolina by Ellen J. Perry.
Part Four: “Welcome to Fabulous Weaver-Vegas” dedicated to Abigail Hickman, Wanda Wilson, and Connie Wilson.
You know how I like to be spontaneous. Well, me and Shelby ventured out of Asheville on the spur of the moment today and found Weaverville, the best little town in the mountains. It’s about ten minutes north of Asheville and known to the locals as – get this – Weaver-Vegas! Ha. After our Tai Chi adventure yesterday we went to supper with Kathleen and Trent who introduced us to their friend Christina. She grew up in Weaverville and still lives there, said if we came out to the big city she’d show us around. So we fired up the van and went.
I pulled in by this big clock, got parked, and we met up with Christina at the Well-Bred Bakery and Café right in the heart of Main Street. Well-Bred used to be the town drugstore but now it’s packed with people ordering stuff like quiche, pasta salad, French toast casserole, all kinds of cakes, and the best toffee I ever ate. It’s buttery and not so hard it’ll break your teeth. Shelby ate an éclair that was as big as my head. I gobbled up a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup – perfect on a cold day. But it wasn’t so cold that Christina couldn’t take us around to see the sights. As we were getting ready to go, the Well-Bred manager gave us a big hug and said, Come back ladies, right after he pointed out the Yoga studio in the next building. Next thing I knew, your old grandma was taking a yoga class and doing the Downward Dog! Well, I don’t think I did it completely right, but I got my bottom up a little higher than Shelby did. After class Christina wrote down my favorite poses so I could try and do them later on back at the hotel: Table Top, Cat and Cow, Pigeon, Warrior, and Low Lunge. Shelby liked the Mountain and Corpse poses the best, since she said she could stand up straight and lay down flat with the best of them.
Back to our tour. You remember the Vance monument in Asheville, the one that Augusta Wind on the LaZoom bus made the joke about? Mr. Vance himself was born in Weaverville, and Christina said you can go down Reems Creek Road to visit old Zebulon’s home place. She remembered seeing it on a field trip when she was a little girl, and they still do Civil War reenactments down there all around the cabins. You’d probably like to see this pretty valley since you’re interested in history. What I’d really like to show you is the Weaverville Drug Company with its ice cream parlor. The people in there were so friendly to us out-of-towners, and the parlor was like old times. I looked at some souvenirs but Shelby had already got me a “We’re All Well-Bred in Weaverville” shirt over at the café, so I figured that was enough for today.
After visiting the Dry Ridge Historical Museum in the library and taking a quick rest at Twisted Laurel (Christina wanted a mimosa, which is champagne and orange juice if you didn’t know), we wandered on over to Church Street to say hey to her friends Joe and Paulette. They have the cutest house near where people walk or ride their bikes on the sidewalks, and we settled right in. “Let’s play Pictionary,” their daughter Dana said, and things got interesting when we formed teams. Joe said, “I’ll bet everybody a dollar that Paulette and I will win.” Shelby got that determined look she has and told him, “You’re on.” I wish she hadn’t of done that, but too late – it was Weaver-Vegas, after all, so we played and gambled well into the afternoon. Dana and her step-sister Audrey won the most games (six dollars each, big money!) and then somebody got up the idea to order supper from Blue Mountain Pizza, which we took down to Lake Louise Park for a picnic. It was so sweet to see the kids swinging and playing, and I even went down the slide once to show Shelby I could do it without hurting myself. I bounced right up, probably thanks to all this Tai Chi and yoga I’ve been doing!
On the lake’s walking trail Christina ran into her friends Eva and Jenny who live in the condos nearby. They were a lot of fun and told us some more about the area and where they like to go. “Every now and then I’ll take my ‘I’m a Local’ mug and head over to IHOP,” Eva said, and Jenny (who’s an artist) told us about the Art in Autumn event that happens every September. The vendors set up their booths right along Main Street. I’d like to come back for the Art Safari, too, which is where people ride around to the houses of local artists and see their work. Wouldn’t it be something if I got back into quilting and showed off a few of my quilts to people? Jenny talked about a bunch of quilts and such on display over at the Folk Art Center back in Asheville. She also said how good the fresh fruits and vegetables were at the Weaverville Tailgate Market just up the hill at the community center.
Nicky, what if I was to sell my house in Columbus County, buy one of them bottom-level condos where Eva and Jenny live, and move to the mountains? Would you and your mama come visit me pretty regular? I just keep thinking about all the things I want to do later in the year when it warms up and how since your granddaddy passed on, bless him, I’ve got nothing but freedom and time. If he was alive he’d probably agree to go zip-lining with me at Navitat Canopy Adventures in Barnardsville. Shelby refuses to leave solid ground, she said, but I might could get Eva to zip-line since she’s about my age and every bit as sassy. Matter of fact, I’ll bet on it, Weaver-Vegas style. I’ll bet she’d go with me to Navitat and that me, her, and Eva would be the best of friends and the wildest group of lady-adventurers this town has laid eyes on, before or since Zeb Vance’s time.
My husband has a brochure problem. Every stinkin’ time we are in a hotel on one of our many adventures, he looks for a brochure display and gets himself a thick stack of them to familiarize himself with the highlights of the area. The car is full of them.
Three years in a row he picked up the one for Chimney Rock. And now we were heading to the Round House we rented in Hendersonville and his dream may actually come true. He has lured me to Chimney Rock with the promise that there is an elevator to the top of the mountain. Cue the music signaling impeding doom.
Chimney Rock is about 25 minutes from Hendersonville. The town of Chimney Rock is a small town near Lake Lure with eclectic shops and eateries lining both sides of the main road that runs through town. On your right, is the Broad River. Being a rock lover, I couldn’t get over the huge boulders in the river! There were tons of places I could see where you’ll be able to eat lunch and wander out to the river. Even gem mining was there!! I love gem mining!!
The entrance is in the middle of town and easy to miss. You cross the river and a gorgeous narrow winding road will lead you up the mountain. You will pass several little grilling areas with picnic tables on your way to the tippy top.
So, here’s where the story picks up. We get to the hut where you pay the fifteen dollar entrance fee and the ranger says there is a discount today…wait for it…because the elevator is broken. At the time I was putting on lipstick, the circles of color just kept getting wider and wider till when my husband looks over we was staring at Bozo the Clown.
“I still want to do it,” he says with a wide grin. I look at the Ranger and he assures me there are places to rest on the way up and a cafe at the top. “I got this!” I said with confidence I didn’t feel. I mean I do Pilates but…
We stopped at the bathrooms at the base of the mountain before going up that last little bit. Have no fear though, if you drive all the way up, there are bathrooms there, too.
We parked towards the top, if you arrive later in the day you will have to park down the hill and be shuttled up by school bus.
There was a guy playing the dulcimer in front of the gift shop, the music added a magical quality to the experience. A couple with an el fresco hot dog stand is on your right and a little further are the bathrooms and beyond that, the beginning of the stairs to Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls.
The gift shop was our first stop. I bought myself a t-shirt, “I hiked it and I liked it!” The power of a positive mindset, right?
The journey up the 497 steps was slow going. There were landings you could stop and pretend to look out at the view and catch your breath! I did that once or twice, maybe!
The views are amazing, the rock formations gorgeous, and the history of the mountain just as high and wide. I swear I could hear the star of the movie, The Last of the Mohicans, yell, “I will come for you!” as he jumped through Hickory Nuts Falls. (You can even buy the movie in the gift shop!)
You’ll come across a grotto, a tunnel to climb through called the “subway”, and small bat cave. We explored it all.
At the top, it is not a flat area with a railing. The top has been left with its natural contours and a fence around it. You can stand on one of the outcropping of rock and get a great picture of the 2280 feet of stairs you just climbed.
The cafe is closed in the winter but there is a gift shop, bathrooms, and a place you can get coffee.
Please, don’t just walk by the “emergency wheel barrow” for taking people down the mountain. It puts everything into perspective!
Now, there is another set of stairs to go a smidge higher. We choose to save that for next time!! LOL
Down the mountain is way easier and faster! And honestly, I’m glad the elevator was out, for really real. I would’ve missed the grotto, opera box, subway, and the bat cave. More importantly, the sense of accomplishment was thrilling.
My t- shirt was wrong, I hiked it and I loved it!
Btw, I’m wearing the shirt as I type for inspiration!
Hooker Falls – Located in DuPost State Forest. The easy hiking trail has made it one of the most popular waterfalls in the area. From the main parking lot, use the trail to the right and follow the signs to reach the falls. The trail is about a quarter of a mile. Upon getting close to the falls, you’ll notice small observation deck. You can keep going about 100 yards to get a better view of Hooker Falls. Though it’s only 12 feet high, the water rushing down makes quite an impression, especially after some heavy rain. Please use caution if you decide to take a swim near the falls.
Triple Falls – Also located in DuPont State Forest. You can visit Triple Falls after seeing Hooker Falls. From the main parking lot, walk over the bridge, to reach the trail. It’s about half a mile one way, but it will feel longer once you reach the incline. You will be able to see all three cascades from an observation point. Keep going just a little more, and you’ll see some wooden steps to the left which will take you to a flat area and you’ll be able to sit and relax for a moment to enjoy some beautiful falls. Please use caution, and also be aware there is no swimming allowed.
Looking Glass Falls – Located in Pisgah Forest, it is has become one of the biggest attractions in the area because of its easy access. Located right off the road on Highway 276 near Brevard, NC, and there are some steps you can take to get a closer look at the waterfall. Enjoy the view from the observation deck, or cautiously walk down to the water and enjoy a little swim. Looking Glass Falls is a beautiful sight, and it looks spectacular after some heavy rain. As always, please use caution if you decide to go for a swim.
Sliding Rock – Located just up the road from Looking Glass Falls, it is a popular spot in the summer for swimmers of all ages. There is a small fee to enter during the summer, so keep that in mind if you decide to go. Sliding Rock gets extremely crowded on those warm summer days when everyone wants to cool down, but it’s a fun experience. There is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months. Always use caution when swimming at the falls.
Second Falls at Graveyard Fields – Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 418.8. In the summer months, chances are you will see the parking lot filled with cars. Second Falls is an easy to moderate hike. From the parking lot, walk down the steps to the paved trail. Once you reach the river, cross the bridge and keep going until you see the dirt trail on the right. You’ll come to a long, steep set of steps. Once you reach the bottom, you’ll be able to see Second Falls. If you decide to go over the observation deck, please use caution as rocks can get slick. You can take a swim right below the waterfall, but please use caution there as well. The hike is about half mile one way.
Upper Falls at Graveyard Fields – Located in the same vicinity as Second Falls. If you’re hiking in the direction of Second Falls, take a left after crossing the wooden bridge and wooden trail. Be sure to follow the signs. One you reach the falls, it may not look like much if it hasn’t rained much. Use caution while walking over the rocks as they can be slick. Expect to hike over a couple of miles if you visit Upper Falls.
Eastatoe Falls – It’s a beautiful waterfall located in someone’s backyard. Please respect their property if you decide to visit. Conveniently, they have allowed people to park their car behind their house (you will see the sign). Located in Rosman, NC near Brevard, it is off Highway 178. Once you turn on Highway 178 from Highway 64, go about three and a half miles until you see a sign that says “Mountain Meadow” on the right side. Follow the driveway to the back of the house. Walk further back into the backyard and you will hear the waterfall.
Dry Falls – Located off Highway 64 near Highlands, NC, this waterfall is amazing. It is a beautiful 75 foot waterfall. Once you reach the parking lot, walk down the long staircase and follow the walkway to the waterfall. You will be able to walk behind the waterfall! It is definitely a great experience, especially if you go after some heavy rain!
Rainbow Falls – Located in Gorges State Park. Rainbow Falls is near Sapphire, NC on NC-281. It is about a mile and a half hike one way, and it is moderate. The waterfall will be worth the drive and the hike. The 150 foot tall waterfall does not disappoint, and there is also an observation deck to get a closer look. Many people also swim near the waterfall, but always use caution as the rocks get slick and currents are tough after some heavy rain. You can also walk about a quarter of a mile up the trail to visit Turtleback Falls and take a swim up there as well.
Whitewater Falls – Located near Gorges State Park and Sapphire, NC on NC-281, Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall this side of the Rockies. Once you get to the parking lot, please be aware there is a small fee ($2) per vehicle to park – this is to contribute to the upkeep of the park area. Once there, follow the paved trail about a quarter of a mile to see this magnificent 411 foot waterfall. Once you see the waterfall, you will also see a steep staircase to the right. Go down to get a better look. The steps are steep, and there are 154 of them! Unfortunately, you cannot get a closer look of the falls other than the one from the observation deck. For the experienced hikers, there is a trail near the observation deck which takes you to the bottom, but please use caution.