A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

The tour through Jack and Sandy Pleasant’s 260-acre bison farm traverses rolling hills and picturesque farmland. At the helm of the wagon ride, Jack fields questions from passengers about the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

The tour through Jack and Sandy Pleasant’s 260-acre bison farm traverses rolling hills and picturesque farmland. At the helm of the wagon ride, Jack fields questions from passengers about the

Outdoors in Person County: 4 Items for Your Summer To-Do List

The tour through Jack and Sandy Pleasant’s 260-acre bison farm traverses rolling hills and picturesque farmland. At the helm of the wagon ride, Jack fields questions from passengers about the eight calves he started with back in 2001, and shocks his visitors with a story of the day he saw a bull jump 12 head-high gates. He reveals a little history about his Person County land, which has been in his family since 1797.

Take a tour of Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm. Photography courtesy of Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm

About 60 years before that, when Col. William Byrd, Jr. was surveying the land to re-draw the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, “there’s a reasonable assumption buffalo crossed my land at some point,” Jack says. “Person County was the only place he recorded not only seeing a buffalo near Hyco bottoms, but also feasting on it.”

It’s fitting that the Pleasants decided to start their Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm in Person County — where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day. To experience this slice of the state’s fresh air and sunny skies, plan a visit in the summertime, and set your GPS to these outdoor destinations favored by locals.


Sip a sweet glass of muscadine wine or cool off with a wine slushy at Rock of Ages Winery in Hurdle Mills. Photography courtesy of Rock of Ages Winery

Visit a vineyard

Person County visitors have choices when it comes to relaxing with a glass of wine — and both options offer beautiful views with a side of tranquility.

Just seven miles down the road from Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm in the Hurdle Mills community, Rock of Ages Winery is known for its wine and relaxing vibe. “It’s got a French country feel to it,” owner Kim Moore says. “We want people to enjoy themselves and the peacefulness of the area.”

Stroll the grounds at Rock of Ages Winery before cooling off inside. Photography courtesy of Rock of Ages Winery

And while the doors officially opened in 2006, this land is no stranger to viticulture. Kim and her husband, Kevin, are carrying on the Moore family tradition of farming: Both are familiar with hard work and grew up working in tobacco. Now, for the past 20 years, they’ve been growing grapes and making wine.

The main old English-style lodge — with its hints of both Italian and Western influences — houses two tasting rooms, and the upper and lower patios serve as the perfect backdrop for relaxation and good conversation. A beautiful, sparkling four-acre lake anchors the grounds.

With more than 30 wine options, there’s something for everyone. Pair a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, a sweet muscadine wine, or a wine slushy with Ashe County cheese and Got to Be NC snacks from other local suppliers.

At Tunnel Creek Vineyards, try local wine and dig into a locally made charcuterie board on the balcony or terrace. Photography courtesy of Person County Tourism Development Authority

Explore the property at Tunnel Creek Vineyards. Photography courtesy of Tunnel Creek Vineyards

Sharon Holler, who’s owned Tunnel Creek Vineyards with her husband, Larry, since 2013, says first-time visitors to the winery often have the same response: “We heard it was beautiful, but until we got out here, we had no idea. It’s beyond beautiful.”

Tunnel Creek Vineyard’s 400 acres are filled with rolling hills, a lake, and row upon row of vines — evidence of their plethora of choices for visitors. “If you think about the growing conditions in Italy, here in Roxboro, we have that same soil — very rocky. Vines don’t like a lot of water, and Roxboro is known for its granite.”

Sharon is a red-wine drinker, but they get rave reviews for their Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Traminette. Take a stroll through the vineyard, enjoy a glass at the tasting room, and plan to buy one of their locally made charcuterie boards or gourmet sandwiches for a picnic. Plus, the winery often hosts live music on weekends.


Rent a cabin at Mayo Lake Park for a relaxing getaway in the woods. Photography courtesy of Person County Recreation, Arts, and Parks

Cool off at Mayo Lake Park

When county recreation programs were started in the 1940s, Person County was there for it. Over the years, Mayo Lake Park’s offerings have grown along with the park’s community. Every face is familiar, and visitors are welcomed with open arms.

Year-round programming includes 5K races, disc golf, crafts, fishing tournaments, and more. Want to spend the night? Stay in a cabin or set up camp at one of the RV or tent sites, then head off on a nature hike, stroll the wooded shoreline, take a dip in the lake, and let the kids run wild on the playground. Paddleboards and kayaks are available for rent, but make a reservation ahead of time, as they go fast.


Have a boat day and enjoy watersports at Hyco Lake. photograph by Colby Ross

Live the lake life at Hyco Lake Park & Campground

Wakesurfers flock to Hyco Lake, but you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy making a splash. photograph by Colby Ross

Hyco Lake Park & Campground is known around the state for its camping and watersports. In fact, this year the lake played host to the Mid-Atlantic Wakesurf Championship, where competitive riders from all around the world came to ride the waves.

Still, you don’t have to be a wakesurfer to appreciate all that the 3,750-acre Hyco Lake — and its 160 miles of shoreline — has to offer. Choose from six boat ramps or fish from the shore or observation deck.

If land activities are more your speed, check out the 30-acre Natural Learning Area, where birds ranging from the mighty bald eagle to the acrobatic belted kingfisher put on a show. Then stroll down the one-mile paved TRACK trail along the banks of the lake and have lunch at one of the designated picnic areas.

Hyco Lake also draws disc golfers, who rave about the 18-hole Kraken Disc Golf course. With an open front nine and wooded back nine, the course features three holes with water carries — be sure to pack your backup discs!

Visitors who are tired after a day of fishing and hiking can rest their heads at one of the campground’s 65 RV campsites, some on the waterfront. The park also has eight cottages available for rent.

Warm summer days on Hyco Lake transport vacationers to a little piece of paradise, leaving them refreshed and exhilarated with memories that last a lifetime.