Located around Milepost 409 on the Blue Ridge Parkway there’s a short day hike with amazing views. From the parkway leave your car at the gated entrance to Forest Service Road 450, but DON’T BLOCK THE GATE. The trail is the old road bed, occasionally used by forest service vehicles to access the towers on top of Frying Pan Mountain. This 0.7 mile trail climbs about 400 feet in elevation in order to reach the 5,340ft mountain summit. A less visited day hike off of the parkway due to it being in between two well known stops, Black Balsam and Mt. Pisgah. Warm weather hikers can see a beautiful display of wildflowers along the road bed. Once at the top, climb the 70ft high tower for a wonderful panoramic view of the Southern Appalachians. You can’t go all the way to the top deck, but you can climb to the last platform and enjoy the wind in your hair. From there you can see Mount Pisgah, Cold Mountain, the Shining Rock Wilderness, and Pisgah National Forest.
This hike is a wonderful place for picnics and pictures!
Planning on fishing this week? Want to make a sport of it? Andrews Brewing Company in Andrews, NC is hosting a mountain trout fishing tournament. Hook, Line & Beer Registration starts April 3 & 4th at noon and goes until 5pm both days. The fishing will begin at 7am on April 5th with a sharp 5pm deadline to enter your fish. The award celebration will be April 6th from noon to 5pm. Fishing in the morning and grabbing a craft beer by the fire afterwards? Sounds like a good weekend to us.
Here during the week and looking for something fun for the kids? The Charles Heath Gallery, located on Everett Street in Bryson City, offers art lessons taught by Charles himself. Art is his life and it shows in all of his work. He really shines as a teacher to children who are willing to learn. Charles has a lively personality and really makes this a fun experience for the kiddos. He offers a different project each week.
In April the classes will be held on Tuesdays AND Thursdays. The cost is $18 per child per class. This includes snacks and materials. These spots do go quickly so call 828-538-2054 to reserve your child’s spot TODAY!
Locally owned and operated, The Chocolate Shoppe in Bryson City has been creating handmade candies in western North Carolina for over 17 years. Chocolatier, Donna Rector, uses German recipes and techniques for her small batch chocolates. Given to her by the Drost family, these recipes have stood the test of time. They begin from scratch using only the freshest natural ingredients. Those who have tried their hand at making candy know how many variables there are in the process. A half-degree too hot or too cool and the whole batch is ruined. On top of remembering recipes for ten different varieties of fudge, each requires different cooking instructions and processing times can vary based on the weather!
Donna says, “making candy the old-fashioned way is a lot of work and extra effort, but the end products are well worth it.” One bite and you’ll agree. Every Saturday, Donna comes out of the chocolate kitchen and makes fudge, caramel and toffee out front for all to see. She may even let ya try a bite while it’s still warm.
A candy store for kids and adults alike. The shop offers splendid truffles using real liquors and brandied cherries. Wine drinker? Coffee drinker? They can help you with pairings. Planning an event? They make plates and gift boxes for any occasions. Easter is just around the corner. Stop in now to find out how they can help you with your baskets!
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located inside the Nantahala National Forest in Graham County, North Carolina. It is 3,800-acres of publicly owned old growth forest. The forest is named in memory of poet and journalist Joyce Kilmer, best known for his poem “Trees”.
The forest offers a wonderful and easy day hiking experience. It is a two mile trail in a figure 8 shape giving you a chance to shorten the hike to 1.25 miles. However, the extra .75 mile is well worth the walk. This loop takes you through a tulip poplar cove. With some trunks reaching over 20 feet in diameter this grove contains most of the forest’s largest trees. The trail system runs along the Santeetlah Creek. You’ll see lush ferns and evergreen rhododendron living happily under the shade of these enormous beauties. Being close to the creek this trail tends to stay cool even in the heat of summer. A favorite hike around July when the rhododendron are blooming.
You can’t camp or park overnight, but there are nice restrooms at the trail head and lots of camping options and great overnight backpacking trails nearby.
“Trees” (1913) by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The weather is starting to demand Sunday drives with the windows cracked and after a long winter a little fresh air may do you good. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to start. It is a 469 scenic highway connecting the Great Smoky National Park here in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There is something for everyone here, all ages and abilities. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it from one of many amazing overlooks. Plan a day hike with the kids or an overnight backpacking trip with friends. You’ll also find that many of the areas to pull over offer exhibits with loads of information about the area. This is a great way to get the family out together and learn something too!
The Blue Ridge Parkway’s construction started in 1935 as a way to create jobs during the Great Depression. It was completed in 1983 and since has become a national treasure. The parkway is maintained by park employees and volunteers whose goals are the same, to preserve and protect the natural beauty surrounding the road.
Today marks the first day of spring, or the vernal equinox. “Vernal” is a Latin term meaning spring. “Equinox” is a Latin term meaning equal night. The idea is that this is the time of year that has an even 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark. For us that means, more daylight, warmer temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. Worms are emerging from the ground to feed the early birds as they arrive back from their migratory homes. Along with the birds, the butterflies are also finding their way back. Ladybugs are lining the open screen doors of mountain homes. Flowers are blooming and trees are starting to not look so bare. The urge to garden is getting stronger as the warmth of the sun calls us out into the yard. Greenhouses are already full of early starting seeds and land is being plowed and tilled in preparation.
So leave your winter coats at home. Pull out your lightweight jackets and pullover sweaters. Come join us on the porch and let’s get caught up on our vitamin D!
“Trail Magic” refers to a tradition of charity unto hikers. This is common on long trails such as the Appalachian Trail where people hike for months on end. Trail magic is random acts of kindness offered to weary travelers from friends they have yet to meet. It is meant as hope and encouragement for their long journey. The AT is roughly 2180 miles long, starting in north Georgia and ending in Maine. 71 miles of that makes its way through the Smokies! Bryson City becomes a refueling and recharging destination for these hikers.
Spring break is here and we are starting to see north bounders. Lots of people are coming into town to eat, resupply, meet new people and enjoy craft beer. This weekend the Nantahala Brewing Company heads into their 3rd year of Trail Magic Ale™ releases. Sure to please, Trail Magic #7 will be a Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. The first keg will be tapped on Friday, March 14th at 6pm exclusively at the Tap Room in Bryson City. 8pm the same night there will be a beer bottle swap and live music by local favorites, The Liz Nance Trio.
The party will continue on Saturday, March 15 with limited release bottle sales at noon and live music with Solidier’s Heart at 8pm.
Not feeling social? Rent a cabin with a view and take a growler of beer to go!
We had a beautiful weekend here in Bryson City. The sun warmed, the breeze cooled, the flowers started to bloom. Time to come out of hibernation. Time to be social, plan for summer and visit new places.
The tulips have busted through the mulch. The early spring season’s display of color comes in slowly. Bright greens and yellows replace browns and grays. Daffodil’s are opening all over the place. Their bright yellow color reminiscent of the sun that has drawn them out of the ground. Song birds are greeting the morning once again. Winter’s in western North Carolina are beautiful, but spring offers new life, new growth and happy anticipation for warmer nights.
La Dolce Vita Bakery is located on Everett Street in downtown Bryson City and offers made from scratch cakes and cupcakes. Locally owned and operated by a mother/daughter team of self-taught bakers, these ladies come up with wonderful flavor combinations and beautiful decorations for everything they make. They strive to incorporate fresh, local or farm-grown ingredients into their recipes.
On the first Friday of every month, La Dolce Vita Bakery hosts Cupcakepalooza! This is a night filled with sweet treats and a microphone open to local talent and musicians passing through. A perfect night to meet friends, share songs or just listen and enjoy a latte and cupcake! This is a free event open to everyone. The music starts at 6pm and continues on until 9pm. Tonight is the second open mic night of the new year, so join us for the fun!
Not a cupcake person? The bakery is also the only place in Bryson City to get a real gelato. So don’t let that keep ya from coming in!