A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

In Blowing Rock, nature and nostalgia converge. Located just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, less than three hours from Charlotte and Raleigh, and surrounded by several state

Madison County Championship Rodeo

In Blowing Rock, nature and nostalgia converge. Located just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, less than three hours from Charlotte and Raleigh, and surrounded by several state

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

In Blowing Rock, nature and nostalgia converge. Located just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, less than three hours from Charlotte and Raleigh, and surrounded by several state

Seeking Adventure in Blowing Rock

In Blowing Rock, nature and nostalgia converge. Located just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, less than three hours from Charlotte and Raleigh, and surrounded by several state parks, the small mountain town offers stunning remote views and adventures for outdoor lovers while also boasting a bustling downtown filled with charming shops and restaurants.

“A lot of people feel like the town has a throwback kind of feeling,” says Amanda Lugenbell, the assistant director at Blowing Rock’s Tourism Development Authority. “It has everything they need, but it doesn’t feel overly developed.” And because the town is located on the Eastern Continental Divide, many of its scenic overlooks and hiking spots range in elevation quite a bit, giving the town a greater variety of trails to experience and a longer season of fall color to savor. “You’ve got really distinct seasons and there’s something to enjoy about each one of them, so it’s just a beautiful spot,” Lugenbell says.

Justin Kotzmoyer, a Blowing Rock local and Recreation and Programs Manager at Blue Ridge Mountain Club , says the town’s change of seasons, quiet winters, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets makes it an incredible place to experience all of nature’s offerings. Thanks to Kotzmoyer’s enthusiasm for the outdoors and Lugenbell’s extensive knowledge of the town and its surrounding areas, we’ve compiled a list of their favorite places to hike, fish, bike, shoot, and ride that locals and new visitors love.



Hike the Cone Carriage Trails

Hiking and history converge at this spot, which is run by the National Park Service. Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, located between mileposts 292 and 295 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is the preserved estate of textile entrepreneur and philanthropist Moses H. Cone. The park’s 25-mile Cone Carriage Trail network is comprised of wide trails that aren’t too steep because they were created for — you guessed it — carriages. These trails are ideal for leisurely walking, trail running, and dog walking, Lugenbell says. The one-mile loop around Bass Lake is perfectly suited to beginning hikers while more adventurous types can take the trails around the park and up to Flat Top Mountain, which provides an expansive view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

 

Fish at Price Lake or Take a Guided Fly-Fishing Trip

Grab your pole and waders, because High Country fishing is an unparalleled opportunity. There aren’t many fishing spots located directly in Blowing Rock because the town is the headwaters for the Yadkin and New Rivers. Fortunately, anglers don’t have to travel far to cast a line. Price Lake, located less than 10 minutes away in Boone, is a great spot to cast in water clear enough to admire the fish swimming by, Lugenbell says: Catfish, panfish, white perches, and many other species can be found in Price Lake seasonally and year-round. For avid and first-time fly-fishers, Lugenbell recommends signing up for a guided outing. Specifically, she suggests scheduling an excursion with Carl Freeman, a seasoned and certified fly-fisherman who owns Mountains to Coast Fishing & Hunting Guide Service. Besides North Carolina, Freeman has worked as a guide in Tennessee, Virginia, and Austria, sharing his love of fly-fishing with individuals of all ages and experience levels.

Go fly-fishing in the High Country. photograph by Blue Ridge Mountain Club

 

Go UTV Riding at Blue Ridge Mountain Club

If you want to see the area from a new angle, Blue Ridge Mountain Club (BRMC) is the closest place to ride ATVs and UTVs in Blowing Rock, Lugenbell says. The club is a private mountain community that offers its owners ample outdoor experiences with more than 25 miles of hiking trails; 64 miles of streams, creeks, and waterfalls; and more than 26 miles of UTV-riding trails (among many other activities) on the property. Kotzmoyer says the club’s UTVing program is its “most sought-after amenity.” Take off on miles of forested trails and scenic ridgelines specially designed for UTV and ATVs. BRMC, who partners with Brushy Mountain Powersports, is one of just a handful of communities in the western part of the state to offer this adrenaline-fueled activity. Out of BRMC’s many trails to choose from, Kotzmoyer recommended trying out the West Ridge Trail — a “fun, manageable trail” that drops into the Duggar Trail partway through the ride.

Ride a UTV through Blue Ridge Mountain Club. photograph by Blue Ridge Mountain Club

 

Clay Shooting at Chetola Sporting Reserve

Whether you’re a local who frequents the Chetola Sporting Reserve for recreational shooting, or clay shooting is something you’ve always wanted to try, Chetola Resort’s 67-acre sporting reserve — located in the heart of Blue Ridge Mountain Club — is an activity “you can be good at even if you haven’t handled a gun before,” Kotzmoyer says. The reserve offers a state-of-the-art five-stand clay course and a 12-station clay course to participants who are accompanied by knowledgeable and helpful guides who work to foster trusting teacher-student relationships. Surrounded by BRMC’s ATV and UTV trails, catch-and-release fishing, and dozens of red maples, oaks, and soaring pine trees, the reserve is also just a great place to take in some beautiful western North Carolina scenery.

Shoot clays at Chetola Sporting Reserve. photograph by Blue Ridge Mountain Club

 

Go Mountain Biking at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park

Watauga County is a huge hub for cyclers who enjoy biking along the Blue Ridge Parkway and on remote trails. For bikers who want to experience more of a natural terrain, Lugenbell recommends heading out to Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park, which is located about 10 miles north of Blowing Rock in Boone. The 185-acre park boasts six diverse trails that range from about a mile to nearly three miles in length. “The trails themselves are part of a network that were developed on the mountain, it’s easy to find right off of U.S. Highway 421, and it’s free,” Lugenbell says.

In addition to all of these beautiful outdoor activities, Blowing Rock is also well suited to kayaking, tubing, bird-watching, and so much more. Many year-round and migrating bird species, like the dark-eyed junco and pine siskin birds, are often spotted around town, and Kotzmoyer says he sees plenty of turkeys and deer while he’s leading outdoor trips at Blue Ridge Mountain Club. “If you love being outside and watching wildlife,” Lugenbell says, Blowing Rock has something for you.

 


For more information about living in this desirable area of North Carolina, check out Blue Ridge Mountain Club.

This story was published on Oct 09, 2020

Chloe Klingstedt

Chloe Klingstedt

Chloe Klingstedt is the editorial assistant at Our State magazine and a Texan who is proud to call the Tar Heel state her new home.