The Signature Group is a team of real estate agents with Keller Williams Realty, passionate about connecting you to Fayetteville, North Carolina’s community and making Fort Bragg more than just a PCS.
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From Asheville and Boone, to Cheerkee and Blowing Rock, the Blue Ridge Appalachian mountain range of North Carolina is home to an abundance of adventures. Not to mention their spectacular turning leaves in October into November, it is time to mark your calendars and make a trip into the mountains to embrace the promises of autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains.
There are three general areas in the mountains. Asheville and the foothills, the High Country, and the southern Smoky Mountains and Cherokee. We have broken down a few of our favorite aspects of each area below.
This area is where yours truly has spent most of her time. Whether you love the artistic city vibe of Asheville or the rolling country hills of the surrounding areas, we feel confident that you could make many return visits to the area. Here you will find Biltmore Mansion, an abundance of hiking, camping, zip lining, the sights of The Blue Ridge Parkway, Chimney Rock and and Lake Lure, craft beer, Sliding Rock and some excellent waterfalls.
Located near Waynesville and Asheville, Clyde is a sweet country mountain town with rural Airbnb homes in abundance. “Three Bear Holler” offers cozy mountain cabins for rent. All of which are just on the doorstep of Max Patch, an incredible mountain top overlook from which the entire range will unfold before your feet. With a conveniently located parking area and many hiking options to reach the top, this is an excellent spot to watch either the sunset or sunrise from. Max Patch is considered a high point along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (a trail that spans approximately 2,200 miles from Georgia up into Maine) and visitors will often encounter thru-hikers and campers on the peak.
“America’s Favorite Drive.” The Parkway spans almost 500 miles through Virginia and North Carolina and is experienced by millions of drivers every year. It winds its way through the central Appalachians and has an abundance of scenic views. Along the road you will find hiking trails, waterfalls, Mount Mitchell (the highest peak in the eastern States), and more! Whether you stay along the roadway or in a neighboring town, it is an excellent experience for anyone who comes to North Carolina.
Less than 30 miles from Asheville, this man made lake is nestled among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can see the famous Chimney Rock, mountain tops, and sheer granite cliffs. You may recognize the lake from famous movies like Dirty Dancing. Spend your time at the boardwalk, nearby Chimney Rock village, or of course, enjoy the lake itself. During the summer months, enjoy the beach or take advantage of their adventure company that includes boat rentals, wakeboarding, and more. If you want to get off the water, they have plenty of trails, rock climbing, golfing, and other activities.
Other team recommendations: the Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill in Morganton and renting a cabin at Black Mountain.
The high country sits among the northern North Carolina Blue Ridge mountains and is a winter sports haven. Boone and Blowing rock are an excellent visit in any season, and are exceedingly popular for what the locals call “leaf lookers” in the fall. The area offers Grandfather Mountain, Tweetsie Railroad, the Linn Cove Viaduct, skiing, snowboarding, other winter sports, hiking, biking, camping, and Linville Falls.
Located just fifteen minutes from two of the best ski resorts in the area, Banner Elk is an adorable town of 1,000 people. They see an abundance of visitors who are headed for Sugar Mountain Ski Resort and Beech Mountain Ski Resort. The village feel of Banner Elk attracts more than just snow bunnies. They also have excellent trout fishing, especially in the fall, as well as many fine dining options.
Just outside of town is Grandfather Mountain. It is famous for its mile-high swing bridge that attracts visitors in droves throughout the year. It boasts some of the best views in the area.
Blowing Rock’s combination of restored historic buildings and modern structures scream “mountain village.” Appalachian Ski Mountain is close by, however the summer months truly attract the most visitors. They boast an abundance of hiking trails and waterfalls, white water rafting adventures, fishing, golfing, and horseback riding. They have a number of festivals throughout the year as well. All of this is just a bonus on top of the picturesque atmosphere.
Boone is larger than Blowing Rock, and has a university town feel. There are a lot of dining options, an adorable downtown, and college football games, all nestled among the mountains. Families tend to travel here in the winter for skiing at the Appalachian Ski Resort. Grandfather Mountain is nearby and its suspension bridge is a huge draw. The summer months boast the long running outdoor drama, Horn in the West, which tells the story of Daniel Boone’s adventures in the area. Yours truly traveled here in October and experienced quite the fright night attractions and had my first exceptional experience with Door Dash. The original Mast General Store is in nearby Sugar Grove and is definitely worth a visit. It has two locations, so be sure to see both!
Smoky Mountains and Cherokee
The legends of the Great Smoky Mountains are told in this corner of North Carolina, with the storied National Park that attracts an abundance of visitors, the Trail of the dragon, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Fontana Dam, rafting, cycling, fly fishing, and gem mining. Worth a mention: Cataloochee Ski Area is located here in Maggie Valley and offers the longest ski season on the east coast that runs from November through early spring.
Camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and firefly mating season are just a few of the many draws of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also written about in our blog post here. It is the most visited National Park in all of the United States, and is a wonderful wooded experience of diverse plant and animal life, as well as remnants of the Appalachian mountain culture. Landscapes, structures, artifacts, and stories tell the tale of the people who once called the mountains home.
The park has many varied activities, including taking a tour in your car, bicycling, the famous Appalachian fall foliage, fishing, hiking, historic structures, horseback riding, and waterfalls! Be sure to check their website for COVID policies and closures due to weather. Some facilities are open year round.
Both Waynesville and Maggie Valley are located near the National Park and have an abundance of shopping and accommodations. The summer crowds tend to visit the Park, while the winter crowds are full of snow bunnies headed for Catahoochie Ski Resort. Both are small towns with perfect main streets, delicious dining, and plenty of camping locations and rentals available. Waynesville especially has an assortment of B&B’s that are converted from romantic stately homes of the past.
The stories of the Cherokee run deep in the Appalachians, and where better to learn more about them than in Cherokee, North Carolina? Just on the doorsteps of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee offers an abundance of culture. There is plenty of accommodation and many family focused attractions. Learn their history and culture, relax in nature, go fishing, tubing, and kayaking. It is a great location for camping, with a lower elevation and warmer evenings.
Have you and your family visited the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains before? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like to let us know, and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already. We put out blog posts like this one every month!