All posts in Scenic Wilkesboro

Fall in Carolina

Carolina in the FallWhy Visit Carolina in the Fall?

There is no better time for a visit to western North Carolina than in the fall. The temperatures are perfect, the skies are the bluest and the leaves are changing. Most of my life has been spent in the foothills of NC and I must be honest and say that there is no place I would rather be in October.

Whether you are taking a leisurely drive on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking the trails at Grandfather Mountain or descending into Linville Gorge, the crisp mountain air and the stunning colors of the foliage will take your breath away. For those new to the adventure, I will provide you with a few tips for success.

Tips for traveling Carolina in the Fall.

  • First, plan early! Lots of folks know about the amazing Octobers in western NC and they plan on being here. So, go on over to our link for accommodations and book your room NOW at the Wilkesboro Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express! Finding a hotel room on up the mountain will prove to be both costly and difficult. Wilkesboro is a beautiful 30 minute drive from the Parkway in several directions, US 421, NC 16 and NC 18.

 

  • Secondly, bring every type of clothing you have. : ) As Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you are going to get”. The weather this time of year is very… changeable. If you don’t like today, tomorrow will be different. I have had to wear winter coats and I have been out hiking in shorts, so come prepared for anything.

 

  • Thirdly, map out your trip. Knowing where to go and when to go will make the most of your days. Do some research ahead of time on some good websites for the area.  Be sure to visit the Parkway website and enjoy! www.blueridgeparkway.org Allow plenty of time, crowds and slow drivers will require more time than you might think.

 

  • Fourthly, Relax!! There is no better place to go to just relax and breathe in some refreshing. Take a moment right now… close your eyes, imagine you are standing at one of NC’s scenic overlooks, the leaves are a mix of yellows, orange and reds, the temperature is a crisp 55 degrees and all you hear is the sound of the wind in the trees. Yeah, I know… every day should be like that.

 

  • Lastly, enjoy the people! You are in a friendly part of the world. Don’t be afraid to talk to a stranger. Eat at the Daniel Boone Inn in Boone, NC and chat with your waiter. He/ she will make the meal feel like you are eating at Grandma’s house. Stop at one of the many roadside markets and purchase some sourwood honey, apples or some homemade jelly or jam. (you might even find a little mason jar for sale at some locations)

We look forward to your visit! Come on over; the music, the weather, the leaves and the people are waiting for you. Carolina in the fall… I spell it PERFECT! Check out our video on Youtube…

Tubing the Yadkin

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The weekend of July 7th , I decided to become a tourist and do a little tubing down the Yadkin River.  As the General Manager of the Hampton Inn here in Wilkes, I always like to try attractions before recommending them to our guest.  My philosophy is “if it’s not something that I would do time and time again, it’s not something I would recommend”.  When traveling out of town guest often rely on Front Desk clerks where they are staying or waitresses to get the scoop on the area.

I decided on Saturday morning to cool down a bit and float the Yadkin River.  I called at the last minute to inquire information about tubing at Super Fly Outdoors located on Hwy 268 West.  I spoke with the owner, John to ask some questions.  He answered everything with ease and assured me that my best girlfriend and I would have a blast.

We arrived at Superfly at approximately 10 am and we decided to make a day of it.  They had several options available:  Tubing for $10.00 a tube, a short kayak/ canoe trip for $30.00 and a long day trip kayak/canoe for $45.00.  We decided to make it a day of tubing because we wanted to just float the river so we could relax, work on our suntans a bit, and have a girl’s day without putting a lot of work into it.

After selecting our tubes, we put in directly behind Superfly.  The staff members helped us ease our tubes in the water and away we went.  The current was slow moving, and the water was cool beneath us.  As we floated we got caught up on our personal lives and laughed at each other’s stories.   Taking in the scenery was almost as refreshing as the cool water.   It’s amazing how quiet and peaceful it was just minutes from town.  We saw several turtles perched on logs (almost too many for comfort), a huge Crane catching his lunch, and we even saw a few fishermen in canoes.  We floated about five miles and it took us approximately five hours.  We tied our tubes together along with an extra tube for our cooler, and took turns pulling each other off the rocks just below the surface.  The river was wide with some deep portions but very slow moving. It’s amazing how when removed from cell phones, electronics, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, things become simple and it’s almost as if your mind resets and you become more focused.

After several hours on the river, our trip was coming to an end.  The river runs parallel to the Yadkin Greenway and we saw several folks running and riding bikes.  At one point we thought we had floated too far.  Shortly after our panic, we saw the STOPPING point!  Two sunburnt women climb out of our tubes and head up the steps to the Smoot park exit.   Shortly after our arrival several other tourists on kayaks and canoes arrive.  As we are waiting for our pick up from SuperFly, it was fun to listen to the stories of the other participants.

Super Fly arrived promptly and loaded all the tubes, kayaks, and canoes.  We climbed in the van and they so kindly took us back to our cars.  Would I recommend Super Fly Outdoors?  Absolutely!  The staff was courteous and professional at all times.  It’s nice to know that other businesses in town have the same focus as our hotel, 100 % customer service.  I have recommended several of our guest to try out Super Fly Outdoors since our little excursion and each have come back with rave revues.  I do plan on making another trip this summer with my daughter, and this time I just may try kayaking!

 

 

 

Wilkesboro Open Air Market

Wilkesboro Open Air Market

“Come for the freshness and stay for the fun.”

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Each year the Town of Wilkesboro opens its’ doors to consumers, farmers and artisans to buy and sell at the Wilkesboro Open Air Market. “Fresh from the farm” produce as well as handcrafted products will be available every Friday for some 5 months (depending on the harvest). The market is located on Main Street in downtown Wilkesboro in the parking lot adjacent to the “old Courthouse” which now houses the Wilkes Heritage Museum. Vendors start arriving early and they open for business at 4 pm and stay open until they sell out or 8pm, whichever comes first.

The Open Air Market offers a special event every third Friday…. called “Third Friday” J. During these events, the standard fare is available, but plan on some special things to be available. Additionally, local musicians will perform and there will be children’s activities available. The Heritage Museum will be open for tours during this time as well.

Parking

As with other downtown festivals, parking is somewhat limited, but thankfully is in adequate supply. Take your time and cruise the area and look for the local lots or on-street parking. The crowds are reasonable, so no worries. Enjoy the walk and do a little window shopping while you stroll. There is parking around the museum, beside Nanasan Restaurant, behind the restaurant and of course on the streets throughout the town.

Welcome to Small Town USA

Wilkesboro is the prototype small southern town filled with everything that makes small towns the place to be. The people are the nicest you will ever meet. The food is local “mom and pop” and tastes great. The service is excellent and you will be treated very well. The language is distinctly southern. Everybody will want to talk to you, if you are open to conversation. So enjoy the grits and grins and be sure to join right in. Toto, you are not in Kansas anymore.

My First Impression

I arrived early, maybe too early; many of the vendors were still setting up. The market was not crowded and no one seemed to be in a hurry. Leisurely chats were in order at every booth. I learned about each person, how they farmed or made their product and what they had to offer. I don’t remember any of this at Wal-Mart J. Great looking produce, sweet scented soaps, goat milk cheese, handmade this and that, all waiting to go home with me. I watched a local blacksmith work steel. I had a wonderful coffee from Talia Espresso and sampled several flavors of things that had never been in my mouth before. All very good!

In Closing

If it is Friday afternoon and the Wilkesboro Open Air Market is open and you are looking for a great little outing, drive downtown and enjoy the evening. No stress, no strain, just good friends with wonderful homegrown or homemade items for you to try and buy, if you wish. Wilkes is nationally known for its’ music and the Heritage Museum is home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame (www.blueridgemusichalloffame.com). Be sure to check out those that have been enshrined in the Hall for their contributions to this regions music. “Third Friday” will feature some of the area’s finest musicians, many of which will likely one day find themselves remembered in the Hall. So, come on out and enjoy the music, food and fellowship, y’all will be glad you did.

 

 

Stone Mountain

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Stone Mtn

Stone Mountain State Park is 14,000 acres of natural beauty. Waterfalls, mountain streams, 17 miles of trout waters, 21 miles of pristine hiking trails and of course a 600 foot tall dome of granite are what awaits the visitor to the park. Words will fall woefully short in describing the setting of this magnificent National Natural Landmark. A few words that begin to paint the picture would be “breathtaking”, “amazing”, “picturesque”, “undisturbed”, oh and did I mention “breathtaking”. Really, the only thing to say is “you have got to come experience this”.

Getting There

Stone Mountain State Park is located in Wilkes and Alleghany counties, six miles southwest of Roaring Gap. From I-77 North, take Exit #83/Hwy 21 North/Sparta/Roaring Gap (you will exit from the left lane). Go north about 13 miles to Traphill Road/ State Road 1002, (you will see a brown state park sign) and turn left. Go about 4 miles to John P Frank Parkway (you will see a brown state park sign) and turn right. Follow the parkway to the park.

From the west, take NC 16 to NC 18 in North Wilkesboro and then turn right onto Hwy 268 East. Go about 3 miles and turn left at Airport Road. Go about 4 miles and turn left this becomes Traphill Rd (SR 1002). Follow Traphill Rd to John P. Frank Parkway about 11 miles and turn left; follow the parkway to the park.


View Larger Map

First Things First

The climb to the top of the Dome is not for the faint of heart, so do some walking ahead of time. In the past few years, a new, much easier path to the top of the Dome has been constructed, but it is still a pretty good hike with lots of elevation change. The old, awesome climb is a challenge to almost everyone, but it is well worth the effort. One word… breathtaking…. In every way!

Water! Pack some cold water in the backpack for the hike. This is a long, time consuming hike that calls for refreshment as you go. I have packed a lunch several times and sat atop the Dome and enjoyed the view while I ate. Also, there are very nice picnic shelters with grills available for use, call ahead to reserve.

Parking

Parking is available at two main lots, each of which is focused on the trail you are choosing. The Upper Trailhead Lot should be used for those that are looking for a more casual hike (still a pretty good hike and I recommend this trail for those that want to bring their dog with them). The Lower Trailhead Lot is to be used by those wanting the full Stone Mountain experience. This lot gives you fairly easy access to the Hutchinson Homestead and the base of Stone Mountain Falls. Additionally, there is parking all along the Parkway where picnicking, creek wading, trail hiking and fly fishing is available. The map at this link is pretty good….. www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/stmo/pics/parkmap.pdf. So, print it out and carry it along for the day. As far as parking goes, I have never visited the park where I could not find a space; however, weekends can be pretty crowded.

Camping

I have never camped at the park as I only live 30 minutes away, but I have talked with people that have and have heard great comments about camping in the park. There are campsites for every type of camper. Hike in, rustic; drive in fairly rustic and drive in with power and water. A total of nearly 100 sites are available for reserving…. This link will take you where you need to go for camping information….  www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/stmo/facilities.php

Food and Beverage

If you want to eat in the Park, bring your own food and beverage. Pack a picnic and enjoy the great setting the park has to offer. One of my favorite memories of Stone Mountain is picnicking beside a stream with my wife and two children, (ages 4 and 7 at the time), watching them play in the stream and make mud pies while I did some fly fishing downstream.

If you don’t want to eat in the park, there is an awesome little country store on the Parkway before you enter the park (on the right side of the road). They have great grill food and plenty of hand dipped ice cream and ice cold drinks. The store is wrapped with a porch and they provide lots of old fashioned rocking chairs to enjoy the mountain breeze while you devour that cone of Cookies and Cream. (this is making me want to go right now) I really love to stop at this little country store and hate that I missed stopping there in the past.

Suggestions

  1. Dress in layers, you are in the mountains of North Carolina and you really don’t know what you are going to get weatherwise. Some days are scorching hot, some are perfect and others are downright chilly.
  2. Wear great hiking shoes. Don’t skimp on this, your feet will yell at you later.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes. Up and down hills, climbing steps and sitting on boulders calls for the right kind of clothing. Dress appropriately.
  4. Take your time. You will not cover this entire park in a day, so slow down and enjoy what you are doing. If there is a bench… sit on it. Someone before you determined that something needed looking at or thinking about, so do both. Getting in a hurry here can cost you more than time.
  5. Stay on the marked trails and off the slick rocks. Needless to say, there is danger at this park for those that choose to explore outside the designated area. Many have fallen to their deaths by stepping into the water at the top of the falls. Common sense is needed, if it looks dangerous, it probably is. Go home safe.
  6. Talk to people. Meet the folks that have come to the park. They are just like you. They love nature and can tell you about special things to watch for or which trail to take to see something. Be part of the Stone Mountain Park community and enjoy time with others.
  7. Stop at the Country Store on the Parkway! Seriously, this is a must! Spent and few minutes and a few bucks and enjoy the ice cream with those you love…. Make a memory that will last a lifetime. (I don’t own the store or even know the folks that do)
  8. Drive the entire loop. Enter on the Parkway and leave by Long Bottom Road. I know you don’t want to get your car dirty, but the drive is worth it.
  9. Watch for trout. I love to hike beside the streams and watch for trout. You will be amazed where you will find them.
  10. Slow down. Enjoy the park. In my opinion, this park is the best thing northwest North Carolina has to offer. Don’t miss this! And don’t leave too early, the deer are in the meadows in the evenings.
  11. Drive slowly, the deer are everywhere.

 

In closing, I want to make this plea to you. If you love nature and the great outdoors, don’t miss this park. “Stunning” is the word that comes to my mind.  Whether you are a serious climber or a recreational hiker, Stone Mountain State Park offers endless days of pure outdoor enjoyment, oh and one more thing… The sunsets are amazing!

Visit the state website at www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/stmo/main.php