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
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.
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.
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.
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 (opening in April) — once home to the first forestry school in the United States.
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.
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.
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 Tuesday night 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.
This venue and educational center has been at the heart of Brevard’s music scene since 1955.
March 14: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Dervish, a group that hails from Ireland and plays their country’s traditional music.
March 30: Enjoy classical music from the internationally acclaimed Sitkovetsky Trio, a violinist, pianist, and cellist who have played in renowned concert halls, including the Louvre and Lincoln Center.
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.
Everything at this nearly 20-year-old downtown Brevard staple, including cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies, pies, cannoli, and more, is made from scratch.
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.
Established in 1941, this old-fashioned soda shop still serves up egg creams, malts, and sundaes at a counter lined with red leather stools.
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.
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.
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.
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.