All posts by Lee

Light Up Downtown

Chritmas in Wilkes

Annual Light Up Downtown Celebration

Light Up DowntownLight Up Downtown is an annual celebration held in historic Downtown North Wilkesboro to usher in the holiday season. The celebration is kicked off with the lighting ceremony when the B Street Park Christmas Tree is light along with all of the holiday lights that line the town streets. Vendors gather from in and around the county to sell their goods on the streets as store owners stay open late to welcome in the crowds and to show off their holiday window displays. The celebration also features hay rides and dance performances and Santa!

 

Shopping at the festival…

There are always a few folks offering free snacks and drinks, while supplies lasts, but be sure to bring your wallet and a little cash. You are sure to find great holiday gifts in the shops or in any of the vendor booths. As you shop you may be tempted to buy a few goodies to eat. The smell of funnel cakes and fresh coffee are hard to resists. If you miss the festival don’t worry too much….you can enjoy shopping in Wilkesboro NC at any time of the year.

 

How to get there and where to park…

The festival is in the heart of Downtown North Wilkesboro and results in the closing of many of the streets, mainly Main St, 9th and 10th. The streets usually aren’t closed until about half an hour to an hour before the festivities. There is plenty of parking close to the festival most of which can be easily reached from the CBD Loop which borders the downtown area.

If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.

 

This years event is November 16 from 6pm-9pm.

Trip Planning in Wilkes

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Why not make a daytrip a weekend stay in Wilkes!

Daytrips can be nice but driving can really eat up your time, especially if you are traveling further than an hour or so from home. If you have an hour and a half drive from home that would mean spending at least three hours on the road if you were planning on going back home at the end of the day.  Booking a hotel may cost more but if you are staying at the right place the value can far outweigh the price. Waking up to free hot coffee and breakfast and not even needing to make the bed or clean anything is wonderful! All of a sudden, a rushed day trip becomes a relaxed weekend vacation. You can see more, do more and may even be able to enjoy your time on the road more.

 

Why stay in Wilkes?

Wilkes has long been called the Key City, as it is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it is much more than that. Wilkes is a county that welcomes you in and invites you to stay awhile.

Centrally located near Winston-Salem, Boone, Hickory, Statesville, West Jefferson and Lenior, Wilkes is an ideal place to visit and the perfect place to stay and see all there is to see in Western North Carolina. Highway 421 runs straight through town making accessing food, fuel and supplies most convenient. Wilkes is also a convenient location for lodging. Hampton Inn, located just off the highway, sits on a hill making it easy to find and plenty quiet for a good night”s rest. Lodging prices are often lower than neighboring cities and the streets aren”t crowed with manic city traffic.

 

What to do, where to go and what there is to see.

Where to start! There is so much to do during your stay. Wilkes offers numerous attractions, festivals, and shops as well as plenty of places for recreation, entertainment and weddings. Hiking at Stone Mountain, cycling the trails at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir, shopping downtown and touring the many art galleries are only a few activities, among many, in the county.

If you are planning on visiting cities nearby, you”ll find that Wilkes offers competitive lodging prices and can help you escape heavy traffic and crowds at the near local events. Wilkes is close enough to Appalachian State University to stay for game days and is near enough to go skiing in the Appalachian Mountains without the worry of severe weather.

 

The Wilkes Heritage Museum

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Wilkes Heritage MuseumMy first visit to the Wilkes Heritage Museum greatly exceeded my expectations. There was so much more to see than I had expected. I was fascinated by the wonderfully preserved architecture of the building and surprised at the quality of each exhibit. This may be a museum in a small town but it is not a small town museum. The Wilkes Heritage Museum serves to preserve the history and culture of an entire region.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is home to numerous exhibits relating to industry, racing, music, folk-art, education and much more. It is also home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. The building in which the artifacts are displayed was once the Wilkes County Courthouse and was built in 1902. Wilkes Heritage Museum, NASCARSeveral other buildings accompany the museum, including the Old Wilkes Jail, built in 1850, the Robert Cleveland House, built in 1779, and others. Some of the surrounding buildings are included in the museum tours and are also part of the Candlelight Ghost Tours. Among the most popular exhibits are the old schoolroom, Junior Johnson’s first racecar, and a moonshine still from the 1800s.

Wilkes Heritage MuseumEvents throughout the year include concerts, a Veterans Ceremony, book signings, theatrical performances, and a Christmas Open House each December. Candlelight Ghost Tours of the haunted sites in downtown Wilkesboro are given on scheduled evenings in the summer and fall.  The tour includes the Old Wilkes Jail, where Tom Dooley was held, the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin and much more!

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is a great place to visit for families, school groups and any who enjoy history, racing or music![divider] [/divider]

Wilkes Heritage Museum Hours and Admission.

The museum has a minimal entry fee and a gift shop where you can find great gifts, postcards and souvenirs.  The fee includes guided tours of the Old Wilkes Jail and Robert Cleveland Log Home. Guided tours are offered at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.Historic Wilkes Heritage Museum

Admission is as follows:

  • Adults: $10
  • Seniors (age 55 & older) and students: $5
  • Children (age 4 & under): free

What to bring.

You will likely want to bring comfortable shoes as the museum is larger than it appears. Comfortable footwear may also come in handy if you chose to go on one of the ghost tours or want to walk the Yadkin River Greenway which has a trailhead beside the Robert Cleveland House. There are also several good restaurants and shops within easy walking distance from the museum.

How to get there.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is located in Downtown Wilkesboro at 100 East Main Street.  Parking can be found on both sides of the museum and along the street.

The following video was uploaded by WXII in 2010 and much has been added to the museum since.  Don”t miss your chance to explore history at this great place!

MenaRick Vineyard & Winery

menarickvineyard

MenaRick Vineyard and WineryMenaRick Vineyard and Winery is a special treat nestled in the foothills of North Carolina. This family owned and operated vineyard specializes in Spanish and Portuguese varietals. With more than 8 acres of vines planted, including Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Albariño, Grenacha, Tempranillo and Tinta Roriz every guest is sure to find a new favorite wine.

Mena and Rick have built this winery from the roots up! They cut the timber, cultivated the land and built the tasting room with logs from the property. Each year they make a trip to Portugal where they visit the vineyard operated by Mena”s family and search for special treasures to bring home for the winery. These treasures add a special touch to the tasting room and help to tell stories of their Portuguese history. For Mena and Rick, wine making is a passion and labor of love that they gladly share with all who visit. They encourage their guests to take in the scenery by taking a stroll by the pond, having a picnic on the hillside or relaxing with a glass of wine on the patio. This vineyard is a place to escape the bustle of everyday life and is a must see while you visit Wilkesboro NC.

How to get to MenaRick

• Head East on 421 from Wilkesboro towards Winston-Salem (about 10 miles)

• Take Exit 276 toward Red White and Blue Road

• Turn Left after exit and follow until road ends at NC-268 E/Elkin Hwy

• Turn Right onto 268 and follow for about 4 miles

• Turn Left on Hoots Road and follow for 1.5 miles

• Turn Right on Austin Little Mountain Road and follow for 2 miles

• Turn Right on Luffman Road and look for the MenaRick sign and gravel drive shortly on your Right

What to bringMenaRick Vineyard and Winery

Feel free to bring anything you may want for a picnic and be sure to pack your camera to capture the scenery. MenaRick Winery accepts debit and credit (except for American Express).

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express are only a short drive away and are located just off of Hwy 421 making them easy to find.  Both offer a delicious hot breakfast and cozy accommodations.  These two hotels frequently offer romance or wine packages which are sure to make your visit extra special!  

 

Click here for details.

 

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest

At Rendezvous Mountain you can enjoy winding trails, mountain top views and …Talking Trees!

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Park is loads of fun for Family and school groups.  Here you can hike the trails, have a picnic and enjoy some of the many educational opportunities.  If you come on a good clear day you may even get to enjoy a hayride!  I first went to Rendezvous Mountain when I was just a little kid.  I remember taking a hayride from the parking area up the mountain where my family had a picnic.  My favorite part about the trip was the hike to see the Talking Trees!  My sister and I would race from one talking tree to the next and take turns pushing the button to hear what each tree had to teach us.  I still enjoy the Talking Tree Trail today but my favorite part now are the many hiking trails and the views. 

Tips for your trip

  • Call ahead.  You may not always need to call ahead but if you are going during the school year and want to avoid a school group it may not be a bad idea to check first. If you are taking a group of friends and family you may want to call and see if a ranger can give you a tour when you arrive.
  • Read the trail map before you get started.  Little ones may not have the energy to walk all of the trails.  Planning your hike will allow you see what you want to see first and not feel exhausted when you reach your favorite parts.
  • Take a camera!!!  The views are amazing and you are sure to see some wildlife.
  • Check the weather.  You won”t want to be there on a rainy day or during a lightening storm.  If the forecast calls for fog you may not get to see the long views until later in the day if at all.  Even if it is foggy there will still be plenty to see on the trails and at the educational sites.
  • Dress comfortably.  Anytime you travel in the mountains you will want to wear sensible shoes and dress in layers.  The weather is typically cooler at higher elevations and earlier in the morning.
  • Take a picnic! There is so much to see and so many great places to have a picnic.  Having lunch on the mountain will be a great way to take a break between hiking trails.

Things to see at Rendezvous Mountain

  • Talking Trees Trail
  • High Mountain Views
  • Fire Tower
  • Forestry Center
  • Hiking Trails
  • Waterfall Trail
  • Cabin
  • Picnic areas
  • Amphitheater
  • Forestry Education Trail 

Weddings and events at Rendezvous

With the picturesque views and calmness of nature all around it is no wonder that couples would chose to be married at Rendezvous Mountain.  One of the most popular locations for any event on the mountain is at the amphitheater, nestled below a tall canopy of foliage. The park has sheltered areas perfectly suited for a casual chic reception. To learn about how you can schedule your event at Rendezvous Mountain call (336) 667-5072.

How to get to Rendezvous Mountain

  • Drive from Wilkesboro towards Boone on US 421 North 
  • Turn right onto NC 16 North 
  • After about 3 miles turn left onto Boone Trail Road
  • In about 3 miles turn right onto Purlear Road
  • In about a mile Purlear Road will become Shingle Gap Road (just keep going)
  • In one mile turn left onto Rendezvous Mt. Road
  • Follow the drive up the mountain to one of the two parking lots

Herring Ridge

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Camp Harrison at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge is located in the foothills of North Carolina a short drive from North Wilkesboro.  The camp has more than 2,000 acres of woods, streams, and trails centered around private, 140-acre Lake Broyhill.

Many things bring people from far and wide to Herring Ridge.  One of the largest draws is Camp Harrison, a summer camp for youngsters which offers numerous camping experiences for them to chose from.  Traditional Resident Camp offers over 21 land activities including: archery, paintball, ropes course, sports and crafts. Adventure tracks allow each camper can create their own personalized experience. Campers can spend the morning in their track and spend the afternoon with the entire camp enjoying water activities like kayaking, canoeing, water zip line, waterskiing, the “Blob” and the “Wet Willie”.

Click here to read our Camp Harrison Insider.

Founded on the YMCA”s Christian values, Camp Harrison”s goal is to give campers an amazing summer experience which they will forever treasure.

Events at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge

There is a lot more going on at Herring Ridge besides the summer Camp Harrison program.  Below is a list of some of the opportunities for fun at Herring Ridge.

  • Traditional Camp (kids 6-16)
  • Dude Ranch (kids 8-16)
  • Sportsman Camp (kids 10-16)
  • Farm to Feast Camp (kids 8-18)Herring Ridge
  • Beyond the Ridge (BTR) Leadership Program (kids 13-17)
  • Family Camp (different opportunities throughout the year)
  • Men On Mountain- Father Son weekend
  • Mother/Daughter Weekend
  • Women”s Wellness Weekend
  • Fishing
  • Weddings and More!!!

 Pricing for special events is as follows:

  • Weddings – Outdoor Chapel Rental $1,500.00
  • Family Reunions – $500 for up to 100 people
  • Birthday Parties – Start at $500 for 10 participants.
  • School Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Church Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Teambuilding – 2-3 hours $25 per person/4-6 hours $50 per personHerring Ridge (lunch can be added for a fee of $12 per person)
  • 1 Night/No meals/3 hours of programming – $88 per person (40 guests)
  • 1 Night & 1 Meal/ 3 hours of Programming – $98 per person (40 guests)

YMCA Members pay the Y rate on any programs offered. This applies to summer camp as well!  Call (336) 921-7067 to plan your Herring Ridge event.

How to get to Herring Ridge.

  • From US 421 North or South you will take exit 286A (towards Taylorsville and Lenoir) then turn right onto 16/18.
  • Turn right at 4th traffic light (located in front of the middle school) onto NC 18 South (towards Lenoir).
  • The sign for Herring Ridge will be in about 10 miles on your left.


Don”t miss your chance to enjoy the moments and make some memories at Herring Ridge!

A Leaf Lookers Guide to Fall in Carolina

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Leaf Looker”s Guide to Fall in Carolina

Each season brings a transformation to the Carolina landscape.  Winter brings white slopes. Spring buds with fresh green foliage and fields of wildflowers.  Summer is warm with sunsets that paint the sky.  Of all the seasons in Carolina, Fall is best of all.  As Autumn comes to the Blue Ridge Mountains each morning seems to reveal more and more change until all at once the mountains burst into vibrant color and leaf season is here!

Fall in Carolina

When and where to see the fall color

The show usually begins in the first days of October when the highest elevations are at their peak.  This is a great time to visit Grandfather Mountain where you can see how the mountains change color from top to bottom, from a hat of vibrant red and orange to a deep summer green skirt blanketing the foothills.  As the season progresses the color spreads down the mountain.  If you come late in the season, late October into early November, you will likely still find color in the foothills.  This is one of the main reasons why I think leaf lookers should begin their journey in the Key City (Wilkes) at the foot of the mountains.  From here you can begin a morning journey up the mountain (by way of HWY 421) and see every level of color.  With Wilkes County being so central, the hardest decision you will likely have to make from Hwy 421 is whether to take the Parkway North or South, drive on into Boone, up towards West Jefferson or down into Blowing Rock.  Each of these places has its own charm and you are sure to enjoy your experience therehuge water slides for sale.

Fall Travel Tips

  • Take your camera!  The views will be beautiful and will also make for great backdrops with family and friends.
  • Take it easy.  Don”t get too caught up in the idea of going to one destination for one great view.  The views will be all around you as you go. Take time to enjoy what you see as you see it and be prepared to stop for some unexpected photo opportunities. 
  • Dress for comfort.  Wear your walking shoes and dress in layers.  The temperatures will change from morning to noon and as you travel from higher and lower elevations. 
  • Read ahead.  The color varies from year to year as do the best spots to see it.  Reading color watch reviews online will help you to know when to be where.  You can also follow us on Facebook (Visit Wilkesboro NC) where we will be sharing some of the best color in our area.

 

Where to start and where to stay

I prefer to start my morning in Wilkes County.  Wilkes has long been know as the “Key City” or the “Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains”.  There are two very nice and affordable hotels just off of Hwy 421, the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express.  Leaf Lookers have been staying at these two establishments for years.  This means that the staff knows what your needs will be and will be able to answer any questions you may have.  There are places to stay up the mountain but the prices and crowds rise with the elevation. 


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Visit Wilkes and enjoy Carolina in the Fall!

Candlelight Ghost Tours

The Candlelight Ghost Tours are full of fun, excitement, history and more![divider] [/divider]

The Candlelight Ghost Tours are located in historic Wilkesboro, North Carolina at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Folklore and ghost tales abound in this area, passed down from one generation to the next.  Guides in will regale you with stories of the past as you walk amid the history of a proud mountain peoples. You might just hear the footsteps of the long dead Tom Dooley in the jail cell he once occupied or you might spy the earthbound spirit of the little girl killed by runaway horses.  This is a great excursion for the whole family with lots of mystery and not too much fright.

Where to be and what to expect.

The journey will begin at the Wilkes Heritage Museum which we highly recommend visiting.  There are several ways to get there but I recommend the following:

From HWY 421 (North or South) take Exit 285 towards Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro.  If you are coming from 421 South you will turn left onto Oakwoods Road.  If you are taking 421 North you will turn right onto Oakwoods Road.  At the first light (intersection of Oakwoods Rd. and Main) turn left.  The Wilkes Heritage Museum will be on your right. 

The museum is easy to see; just look for the beautiful and historic Old Wilkes County Courthouse (see map below). 

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Ghost Tour Tips

  • We recommend that you not bring children under 8 years of age as they may become bored with the history or frightened by the stories. 
  • There are no pets allowed (service dogs are always welcome) and smoking is not permitted during the tour or near the museum.
  • Do expect to have a great time and to learn a lot! 
  • It would be good to arrive early so you can explore the Wilkes Heritage Museum and Downtown Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro areas.

Price

The regular tours are $10 per person and begin at varying times (usually between 7:30 and 9:00). If you are looking for a little more excitement and adventure you can participate in the Paranormal Tours which begin at 11:00 pm following the candlelight tour.  The Paranormal Tour will last well into the night, about 1:00 am, and will cost $20 per person.  All tickets must be purchased in advance by calling the Wilkes Heritage Museum at (336) 667-3171.

Other ghostly events.

Keep an eye on our events calendar for October Ghost Tour events including the Zombie Fest and the special Halloween Candlelight Ghost Tour.  The Zombie Walk has, in the past, included two separate Zombie Walks, one for children and one for adults.   

Click here for details.

The Move to Appalachian State University!

No more Appalachian State move-in day madness!

Families come from far and wide to take part in this triumphant moment! Having graduated from Appalachian State University, I know how wonderful it can be to load the car with way too much stuff and take the scenic drive to Appalachian State. l also know how challenging it can be!

Move-in day at App is, in some ways, similar to attending a football game. Crowds descend on Boone and the parking lots are filled with tags from across the country. People book hotels and make dinner reservations and go shopping for things to fill apartments and dorm rooms. As wonderful as the hustle and bustle can be it can also be a little frustrating. Many families, like mine, are choosing to stay in Wilkes and make the short drive up the mountain.

Appalachian State[divider] [/divider]

 

Wilkes is just a short 30 minute drive from Appalachian State. Just take US Hwy 421 up the mountain and enjoy the views as you go. Once you reach Boone signs will direct you to the campus where parking will be available. If you want to park close to your dorm you will need to arrive early and expect that you may need to move your car once you are done to allow others to unload. There is a parking deck on campus for those who may want time to explore the campus.  Be sure you are ready to pay as you leave the parking deck. Signs and parking lot attendants will also be there to help you find a space near your dorm.

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Appalachian State

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The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn are two great options. Both are close to shopping, dining and are easy to access from Hwy 421. The hotels each have meeting space (which would be great for a graduation party), a swimming pool, business center, serve a delicious hot breakfast and offer much more!

Another good reason for staying in Wilkes is the weather.
Students who are moving in for the second semester during Winter months will need to factor in the possibility of ice and snow. The weather in Wilkes is rarely as severe as it is in Boone. If they get a foot of snow in Boone you can relax in Wilkes knowing that you aren’t snowed in and can wait until the roads are clear and safe.

Appalachian State[divider] [/divider]

 

Wilkes has a number of fine eateries and offers a wide variety of cuisine. No matter what your new Mountaineer prefers, Chinese, Italian, Thai, down home cooking, etc., you are sure to find a place to relax and enjoy a good meal. Another bonus is that you are more likely to avoid the crowds and long waits that folks dining in Boone may endure.

Excited yet?   You should be!

W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir

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W. Kerr Scott is a place for fun, excitement, rest and relaxation.

W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirResting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation by the lake or an exciting excursion on winding forest trails or in the water. W. Kerr Scott has so much to offer including camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, ranger tours, children’s water safety activities, bird watching and much more.  You can rent a shelter for gatherings of friends and family, participate in the many cycling events, experience the Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama and concerts at the Forest Edge Amphitheater, or simply unwind and enjoy nature at its finest.

 Campgrounds surrounding the lake include:W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir

  • Bandits Roost
  • Warrior Creek
  • Fort Hamby

Amenities at the lake include:

  • A minimal admission fee
  • Numerous boat launch sites and docks
  • Boating and sailing
  • Children’s activities
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Fishing by boat or from one of the many fishing docks
  • Free parking
  • Gift shop
  • MarinaW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • RV parking
  • Nature center
  • Pet-friendly
  • Picnic areas all over the place
  • Playgrounds near picnic shelters
  • Swimming area
  • Self-guided tours
  • Ranger guided toursW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • Trails for hiking and walking
  • Bike trails with berms
  • Archery course
  • And More!!!

 

nbso online casino reviews lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in;”>How to get to W. Kerr Scott.

There are many places to access the lake.  The northern shore is closest to HWY 421 while the southern borders 268 which can be reached from 421 by taking exit 286 B.  The way is well marked with signs. 


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W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirW. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirThe primary address for the reservoir is:

499 Reservoir Road
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: (336) 921-3750 
 

This will take you to the visitor center which is open weekdays from 8:00 to 4:30, November through March.  They are open all week long during the busy season from April to October.  The Environmental Education Center, located in a separate wing of the same facility, is open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 to 4:00, April 1 – October 31 and by appointment.

Where to get your gear.

Wilderness Lodge 

185 Edmiston Road
Boomer, NC 28606Girl in yellow kayak at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 921-2277
 

Wilderness Lodge is on the lake and offers 
rentals for canoes, kyaks and mountain bikes 
as well as accommodations.

Cook”s 

1402 Willow Lane
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659Bike Race at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 667-4121
 

Cook”s offers a variety of kyaks and bikes
at competitive prices.  They care also a great
place to go for camping gear and repairs.

Foothills Outdoor Adventures

2618 West NC HWY 268
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
(336) 990-0780

This family owned business is located just
below the W. Kerr Scott Dam and offers everything from pontoons to canoes and the River Tub!

 

The video below was uploaded in 2011 and things have continued to grow at W. Kerr Scott since.  There are more trails, picnic areas and more fun to be had!

Click on the links below to read other insiders about the lake.

Kerr Scott Trails (KST)

Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama