[caption id="attachment_136473" align="alignright" width="263"] Sam and Debbie Stebbins.[/caption] Sam Stebbins coasts to a halt and gazes up at the wooded trail from behind the wheel of his utility terrain vehicle.
Sam Stebbins coasts to a halt and gazes up at the wooded trail from behind the wheel of his utility terrain vehicle. “Ready to climb?” he calls over the hum of the engine before gunning it up at a nearly 45-degree angle. The UTV bounces over rocks and ravines at a modest 8 mph as Sam points out blackberry bushes, wildflowers, and a tree whose trunk was twisted off at the stump by a tornado.
These trails are old logging roads, once used to haul American chestnut and other timber off of Bald Mountain. These days, they’re mainly used for horseback riding and the UTV tours that Sam and his wife, Debbie, offer to guests of the Buck House Inn, their bed and breakfast near Burnsville.
More than a century ago, timber executive David Buck and his family acquired 4,500 acres in Yancey and Madison counties. Trains transported chestnut, cut from the property and milled on the banks of Bald Mountain Creek, right to the site of the house, which was completed in 1904. The Bucks called it Dreamdale.
Running an inn was something of a dream for Debbie and Sam, too. They fell in love with the concept of bed and breakfasts in 1988, when they first stayed at one in the mountains of Virginia. But there were kids to be raised, and the couple had to put their dream on hold for a while. When they retired — Debbie as a nurse, Sam as a civil engineer — they decided the time was right, and the location of the Buck House was right, too. They had camped and traveled in the North Carolina mountains frequently while living in Raleigh, and they knew they wanted to be close to a small town like Burnsville. In 2012, they bought the Buck House Inn — complete with several historic outbuildings and original chestnut walls, floors, and ceilings.
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Surrounded by 750 acres of conserved forest and just a short drive from Mount Mitchell and other mountain hikes, the inn is perfectly positioned for people looking to get away from it all. When guests visit the Buck House Inn, some of them truly experience nature for the first time. Lounging in Adirondack chairs and hammocks around the property, they see the glow of lightning bugs under a starry sky and hear the sound of bullfrogs by a gurgling stream. After a day of adventure, guests settle into one of four rooms with terry cloth robes and heated showers. For some, staying here is a rare opportunity to enjoy peace and quiet.
Or the not-so-quiet.
“Y’all having fun back there?” Sam yells from the UTV. “I’m trying to find the smooth parts. There aren’t too many.” As the vehicle emerges from the woods, the wheels transition to the smooth pavement of a mountaintop neighborhood. The sun is bright, illuminating the peak of Big Bald in the distance. After a bumpy ride, Sam and Debbie cruise gently down the mountainside, back to their home, their little piece of heaven — their dream come true.
The Buck House Inn on Bald Mountain Creek
5860 Bald Mountain Road
Burnsville, NC 28714