A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

The rush of a waterfall. The sight of a trailhead, slightly obscured by trees. The flick of a fishing rod as it’s cast into a mountain stream. More than 50

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

The rush of a waterfall. The sight of a trailhead, slightly obscured by trees. The flick of a fishing rod as it’s cast into a mountain stream. More than 50

A Locals’ Guide to Brevard & Beyond

The rush of a waterfall. The sight of a trailhead, slightly obscured by trees. The flick of a fishing rod as it’s cast into a mountain stream. More than 50 percent of Transylvania County is composed of public land, which has provided rich inspiration to locals. They proudly share how the sweep of a paintbrush, the gurgle of a stream, and the upbeat tune of a fiddle have become the soundtrack to their lives.

Whether you want to learn the basics or flex your fly-fishing skills, Davidson River Outfitters will be your guide. photograph by DAVID CANNON PHOTOGRAPHY


Davidson River Outfitters
Local: Kevin Howell

Kevin Howell. photograph by Tim Robison

As the son of a nationally known fly tier and fisherman, who made flies for the likes of then-Prince Charles of Wales, Kevin Howell has fishing in his blood. Howell, the 2006 National Fly Fishing Master Champion, has led guided trips through Davidson River Outfitters since 1998. Anglers can cast for brown trout, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass in the Davidson and French Broad rivers and various local streams. These clear, narrow waters make it easy to spook fish or get a line tangled. “I tell everyone that if you can master fishing here, you can go anywhere in the world,” Howell says.

Cast a line: Experienced anglers can take guided fishing trips with Davidson River Outfitters across western North Carolina and around the world. Davidson River guides also teach beginners the basics.

49 Pisgah Highway, Suite 6
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-4181

Gorges State Park encompasses a rugged area of rivers, canyons, and waterfalls. photograph by Tom Moors


Gorges State Park

Located in the western part of Transylvania County, Gorges State Park offers a “quality backcountry experience,” says Kevin Bischof, the park’s superintendent. Visitors looking for a challenging but family-friendly adventure can park at the Bearwallow Falls access and start the 0.4-mile round-trip hike to the waterfall. More adventurous hikers can embark on the strenuous Rainbow Falls hike, a three-mile round-trip excursion that involves a stream crossing.

Pisgah National Forest

Explore Looking Glass Falls, plunge into the cool water at the base of Sliding Rock during warmer months, or explore the Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site (2024 opening day is on April 13) — once home to the first forestry school in the United States.

Headwaters State Forest

Established in 2018, Headwaters is the newest addition to Transylvania County’s public lands. The forest, located in the southern part of the county, near Rosman and Cedar Mountain, encompasses 50 trails and 15 miles of fishing streams.

DuPont State Recreational Forest

Several memorable waterfalls can be spotted at DuPont, including Triple Falls, where an action scene was filmed for The Hunger Games. From Staton Road, the site can be reached from the Hooker Falls access area or the High Falls access area.

To learn more, visit explorebrevard.com/forests-parks.

After a day on the trails, mountain bikers and hikers often relax with a Noblebräu brew like the Hausbier, a German-style pilsner and local favorite. photograph by Tim Robison


185 King Street and Noblebräu Brewing
Locals: Madeline Magin & Cody Noble

Madeline Magin & Cody Noble. photograph by Tim Robison

The cornerstone of Brevard’s King Street entertainment district is a building with red barn siding and a jutting marquee. Inside, musicians’ headshots and old tour posters cover the walls. The stage looks well-worn, broken in by more than a decade of rhythmic foot stomping. When Cody Noble and Madeline Magin purchased 185 King Street in November 2019, seven years after the venue was founded, they hoped to maintain its community reputation while bringing new ideas. Noble, one of the first students to graduate from Blue Ridge Community College’s brewing program, transformed the venue’s office into a microbrewery and named it Noblebräu. When the pandemic hit, the couple expanded the outdoor seating and kept folks connected through weekly electric jam sessions and bluegrass shows, featuring local acts like Grammy Award winner Travis Book. “Everyone had our backs,” Magin says. “It allowed us to slowly grow and strengthened our place in the community.” Now, 185 King Street has garnered a reputation as “Brevard’s backyard.”

While you listen: Enjoy a pint from Noblebräu and browse a small food menu featuring seasonal salads and sandwiches. Try The Unicorn: spicy fried chicken, secret sauce, and pickles served on a brioche bun.

185 King Street
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 877-1850

Try the Mac Attack burger at Papa L.E.W., which is topped with mac ’n’ cheese. photograph by Tim Robison


Papa L.E.W.
Local: Ursula Wynn

Ursula Wynn. photograph by Tim Robison

Keep an eye out on East Main Street for a chalkboard sign that teases smoked wings. Papa L.E.W.’s location — in between two storefronts and down a flight of stairs — is a little inconspicuous, but its menu and the upbeat music that fills the restaurant are nothing of the sort. Try the Mac Attack burger, topped with Cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, scratch-made “Papa Sauce,” and, yes, a serving of mac ’n’ cheese, all on a brioche bun. For dessert, order the Deep Fried Snack (like a Little Debbie Swiss Roll), featuring an old-school treat that’s been fried in a funnel cake-like batter and finished with toppings like homemade whipped cream and powdered sugar. Ursula Wynn, owner and head chef, prides herself on creating comforting soul food with bold flavors. And everything on the menu was tasted and approved by Papa L.E.W., Wynn’s grandfather, who died shortly after she opened the namesake restaurant
in 2021. “It was my way to pay homage to him,” she says.

What to order: The wings! All of Papa L.E.W.’s wings are seasoned, smoked, and fried, then tossed in the scratch-made dry rub or sauce of your choice and served with homemade ranch or blue cheese dip. Try the wing flavor of the week, or choose from a list of more than a dozen other rubs and sauces that Wynn created.

36 East Main Street
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 877-9906


Food & Drink

Blue Ridge Bakery

Everything at this nearly 20-year-old downtown Brevard staple, including cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, pies, cannoli, and more, is made from scratch.

86 West Main Street
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 883-8444

Cup & Saucer

Early risers can enjoy a buttermilk biscuit sandwich, grits bowl, or smoothie, while the lunch crowd gets to choose a sandwich or soup, all made with seasonal and, when possible, local ingredients.

36 East Main Street, Suite A
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 884-2877

Creekside Market & Grill

This cozy roadside joint offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a savory bite, try Mama’s Carolina Burger, topped with mustard, homemade chili and slaw, and onions.

8960 Greenville Highway
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 885-2810

Falls Landing

After running a restaurant in the Virgin Islands for years, Mike Young moved to Brevard in 1993 to open a restaurant that specializes in seafood and steak.

18 East Main Street
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 884-2835

Sarah and Adam Dearbaugh create and package their small-batch moonshine, including BuckFiddy, LemonHello, and FireBaugh, inside their 884-square-foot space. photograph by Tim Robison


Studio 276 Art & Co.
Local: Sarah Dearbaugh

Sarah and Adam Dearbaugh. photograph by Tim Robison

A family cabin in Cedar Mountain, located about a mile from the community’s post office on U.S. Highway 276, served as Sarah Dearbaugh’s home base during her summers growing up. “My favorite childhood memories are of DuPont Forest before it was DuPont Forest, [when there were] footpaths before there were trails,” she says. In 2019, Dearbaugh bought the old post office building and transformed the small space into a hub of creativity. At Studio 276 Art & Co., Mason jars filled with Cedar Mountain Moonshine — made by Dearbaugh’s husband, Adam, and father-in-law, Wes, using a 56-gallon reflux still in the back room — line one wall. Colorful canvases displaying whimsical “Shine Art,” created with moonshine by Dearbaugh and her sister-in-law, Amy MacHale, hang above an eight-foot-longcraft table on the other side of the building, where Dearbaugh makes her own art and leads Sip & Shine painting parties. In the parking lot, she hosts local makers markets and Music & Moonshine events, where attendees can enjoy live local music and free tastings.

Moonshine to try: Popular flavors include LemonHello, an Appalachian twist on Italian limoncello, and BuckFiddy, believed to be the highest-proof North Carolina-made moonshine available.

10754 Greenville Highway
Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
(828) 276-1059

Mountain School of Strings

A few years before starting Studio 276 Art & Co., Dearbaugh moved back to Cedar Mountain from Arizona to be a caregiver for her mom, who was being treated for head and neck cancer, and to serve on the board of the Mountain School of Strings. Her mom, Ellen Lee, a classically trained musician who started a bluegrass band, founded the nonprofit, which helps provide affordable string music lessons for Transylvania County students and adults at the Brevard Music Center. Lee, now cancer-free, can no longer speak, but she plays her fiddle to communicate. “Music,” Dearbaugh says, “is the only thing that keeps us connected as humans.”

To learn more, visit mtnsos.org.

This story was published on Feb 27, 2023

Chloe Klingstedt

Chloe Klingstedt is an assistant editor at Our State magazine, a Texan by birth, and a North Carolinian at heart.