10 Asheville Hikes with Epic Mountain Views


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While there are thousands of miles of hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains thanks to our national and state parks and forests, here are our ten top mountaintop hikes with the best panoramic views near Asheville, North Carolina. And they are all free to enjoy! Take a picnic and allow time to enjoy the view.

Mt. Mitchell: After enjoying the 360-degree vistas from the observation deck atop the highest peak in eastern USA, hike the Deep Gap Trail to four more summits over 6,000 feet, including Mt. Craig just a mile away.

Craggy Pinnacle: A 1.5-mile roundtrip hike offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views and a great spot for a picnic along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Max Patch: Hike the 2.4-mile loop around the grassy summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail in Pisgah National Forest.

Black Balsam Knob: Hike across multiple mountain balds near the Blue Ridge Parkway. These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest offer sweeping views all along the trail.

Looking Glass Rock: Hike this iconic rock face summit with a 1,700-foot elevation gain in the 6.5-mile roundtrip trail.

Whiteside Mountain: This two-mile hike in the Nantahala National Forest near Cashiers takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs with outstanding views.

Table Rock Mountain: Enjoy spectacular views of Linville Gorge from atop this distinctive summit. This 2.2-mile hike can be combined with a 1.5-mile trek to the top of nearby Hawksbill Mountain.

Roan Mountain: Hike through summer Catawba rhododendron and along a lofty, grassy ridge for five miles along the Appalachian Trail.

Mt. LeConte: The restored Alum Cave Trail is the most hiked in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll see why with interesting geological features and stunning views along the 11-mile roundtrip hike that climbs 2,853 feet in elevation.

Cold Mountain: This strenuous 10.6-mile roundtrip hike takes you to the summit of the mountain made famous by the novel and movie, in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest.

All of these hikes were selected by the readers of RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide. For info on these and others, go to their Top 75 Hikes near Asheville.

Asheville Spring Updates


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What’s new for 2017 in Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains? There are even more things to do during your vacation.

The biggest event of the year will be a total solar eclipse on August 21st with total darkness for a couple of minutes of darkness in far western tip of North Carolina (in towns like Cashiers, Cherokee and Robbinsville).

For the first time ever, you can take a very fun helicopter tour above Asheville and Biltmore – beginning in March 2017.

At Biltmore, see a new exhibition from February 10 through July 4th with 40 elaborate period costumes from well-known movies. The most visited winery in the country received a makeover with a bigger tasting room.

Downtown Asheville continues to grow with many new restaurants and breweries and several major hotels under construction. The drum circle returns on Friday nights. Many festivals are planned for 2017. Be sure to check out the several new rooftop views and watch the mountain sunsets.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center continues to expand and will host many weeks of Olympic-caliber horse jumping competitions. In addition, find a variety of restaurants and shops. Saturday Night Lights is free to enjoy. In 2018, they will host the FEI World Equestrian Games.

A new trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge area will open April 1. The 3-mile hike to Little Bearwallow Mountain takes you by a 100-foot waterfall and to Wildcat Rock for panoramic views.

PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute) near Brevard is a former NASA Communications Center that is now a world-class space and science research campus. This year, they are adding more events and tours to welcome all visitors.

The River Arts District in Asheville is getting many road upgrades and more artists and businesses are moving in.

Go to our Asheville Travel Guide for info about all of these – with a handy search feature to help you plan your trip.

Asheville Fall Color Updates

Asheville Fall Color Updates


Fall color is arriving in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the Asheville area. Peak color along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Great Smoky Mountains is expected in mid October. So far in 2016, fall color is running about a week later than usual due to our recent warm weather. The first places to see color are the highest ridges, including Mt. Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Pisgah – with the most color during the second week of October.

For a week-by-week fall foliage forecast, go to www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm. Also, see frequent photo reports at www.romanticasheville.com/fall-color-report.

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The fall color season along the Blue Ridge Parkway will last about 4-5 weeks. While the highest sections of the Parkway will peak in early October, the views down into the valleys will last much of the month. The color show will conclude in the lowest valleys, including the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas and the foothills of Rutherford County.

Favorite things to do during the autumn season including hiking, waterfalls and scenic drives. There are many state and national parks to explore, including Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gorges State Park and DuPont State Forest. Get outdoors and enjoy!

Chimney Rock Celebrates 100th on July 4th


 

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On July 4, 2016, Chimney Rock Park will celebrate both its 100th anniversary and the centennial of the North Carolina state parks.

As North Carolina was creating its first state park at Mt. Mitchell, three brothers were also dedicating their new park in Hickory Nut Gorge. On July 4, 1916, Chimney Rock was dedicated by Dr. Lucius B. Morse and the first American flag was raised on the Rock. This year, exactly 100 years later, a special ceremony will take place as the North Carolina state flag will join Old Glory on the top of the “Rock”. The flag dedication will begin at the 8:30 AM on the top parking lot near the base of the Chimney. State Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood, along with other speakers, will open the festivities with a short history of the Park followed by a hike up the Outcroppings trail to the Chimney. Once on the “Rock,” color guard will raise the North Carolina state flag under the American flag to signify that North Carolina State Parks is prepared to continue to protect the park and its natural resources for the next 100 years and beyond.

The band Vintage Vinyl will play their rendition of the National Anthem followed by a short patriotic concert. Park Rangers will share historical photos and articles about Chimney Rock and other state parks, including a display on the 1916 flood that washed out the original Park bridge soon after its dedication on July 4th. Guests will be able to continue their walk through history by a taking a self-guided hike along the Outcroppings trail where other historical photographs of the Park will be on display. A limited number of tickets will be available at the Ranger’s exhibit table for interested guests to take a Behind the Scenes tour of the elevator at different times during the day.

Around 6 PM, as the color guard retrieves the flags, guests can take part in a toast to the next 100 years. The two flags will be then be placed in the Park’s historical archives and saved for future generations.

Gates will open at 7:30 AM and, in the spirit of celebrating 100 years, admission fees will be waived for the first 100 cars that enter the Park before 8:30 AM.

The celebration will continue later in Chimney Rock Village. From 8:30 to 9:30 PM gather along the Rocky Broad River behind the Old Rock Café for free s’mores and campfire stories with the Park Superintendent.

Chimney Rock also joins nearby Pisgah National Forest and the National Park Service in celebrating their centennials this year. Chimney Rock State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a 499-step Outcroppings Trail and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet.  Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species.

See our Chimney Rock Park Guide for more info for visiting any time of the year.

Tryon International Equestrian Center


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Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) near Asheville, North Carolina, holds many weeks of international competition during the 2016 season from spring through fall. The tremendously popular “Saturday Night Lights” series offers spectators an evening of heart pounding action and entertainment, as grand prix show jumping highlights a week of equestrian competition in the George Morris Arena. Come enjoy family activities and live performances at this impressive new campus in Polk County near Columbus.

It has already become a haven for American equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for many that love horses. In addition to hunter/jumper horse shows, TIEC also hosts dressage horse shows and, in 2016, will host the United States Pony Club Championships East and the American Eventing Championships.

Admission to all horse shows and events is free and no reserved tickets are required for the 6,000-seat stadium. The special Saturday Night Lights Grand Prix show jumping events are also free – carousel rides, music and live entertainment included. Parking is free also.

The hunter/jumper shows generally run Wednesday through Sunday, approximately 8 AM-5 PM. For the most action, visit late morning and afternoon to go from arena to arena to see the horses.

Horse shows at Tryon International Equestrian Center are casual outdoor events. Wear sensible walking shoes so that you are comfortable while exploring the entirety of the show grounds. Dining options include a 50s inspired Roger’s Diner open seven days a week. Also find Legends Grille, Ginger Sushi & Noodles, Siesta Cantina and more.

Tryon Resort is one of the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle destinations, and with shops, restaurants, entertainment, lodging and more. This new facility opened in June 2014 with sanctioned horse shows and amenities including 10 riding arenas, 850 permanent stalls, a covered riding facility and fitness center. Future expansion includes a resort hotel, condos and apartments, additional mixed-used retail, sports complex, sporting clay course, and 18-hole golf course, plus a full calendar of equestrian competitions and activities.

TIEC is open every day. It’s located about 48 miles from Asheville. It’s located in the rolling foothill between Lake Lure, Rutherfordton and Tryon, at exit 170 on US Highway 74, at 4066 Pea Ridge Rd., Mill Spring, NC 28756.

For more, see our Tryon International Equestrian Center Guide.

Farmers Markets near Asheville


Find fresh farm bounty at markets through the Blue Ridge Mountains in and near Asheville, North Carolina. Tailgate tents are going up, and area farmers markets are opening outdoors for the season. Get a taste of what Appalachian Grown™ farms are growing. Produce offerings will differ from market to market based on the location of vendor farms—micro climates vary greatly in the region.

Thanks to ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) for this list for 2016 with opening days and weekly times.

Central Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Asheville City Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Asheville City Market – South: April 6, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Black Mountain Tailgate Market: May 7, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • East Asheville Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • French Broad Food Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Leicester Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • North Asheville Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Oakley Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • River Arts District Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Sundays on the Island: April 9, Sundays 12:00 –
  • Weaverville Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:30 – 6:30 pm
  • West Asheville Tailgate Market: April 5, Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • WNC Farmers Market: May 5, Open Everyday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Yancey County Farmers Market: April 16, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Foothills Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Caldwell County Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 7:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Hildebran Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Historic Marion Tailgate Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market: April 1, Wednesdays – Saturdays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Morganton Farmers Market: May 7, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Rutherford County Farmers Market: April 30, Tuesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Thursdays 3:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Sawmills Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:30 pm
  • Valdese Farmers Market: May 11, Wednesdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and Fridays 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Southern Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Columbus Tailgate Market: April 9, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Flat Rock Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Henderson County Curb Market: Year-round; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Henderson County Tailgate Market: March 14, Saturdays 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Mills River Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Saluda Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 4:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Transylvania Farmers’ Market: April 23, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Tryon Tailgate Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Near West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Cashiers Tailgate Market: June 1, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Cowee Farmers Market: May 10, Tuesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Franklin Farmers Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Jackson County Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Original Waynesville Tailgate Market: May 14, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Swain County Farmers Market: May 6, Fridays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • ‘Whee Market: April 5, Tuesdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm

Far West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Andrews Farmers Market: June 4, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Brasstown’s Farmers Market: May 25, Wednesdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Cedar Valley Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Graham County Farmers Market: July 9, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • Hayesville Evening Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Mountain Valley Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

High Country Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Alleghany County Farmers’ Market: May 2, Tuesdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Ashe County Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Avery County Farmers Market: April 21, Thursdays 4:30 – 7:00 pm
  • Bakersville Farmers Market: March 26, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Blowing Rock Farmers Market: May 26, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Spruce Pine Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Read more about Farmers Markets in the Asheville area.

Asheville Art Classes & Workshops


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During your vacation to Asheville, take a fun art class to create a wonderful souvenir – and return home with some new skills. The River’s Edge Painting Studio in the River Arts District has a big variety of art workshops and lessons. Located near downtown Asheville and Biltmore Estate, they love to introduce beginners to many techniques. Here are just a couple of upcoming classes:

April 7, 2016: Golden Effects with Watercolor and Beer, Wine and More – A unique Approach!
Celebrate National Beer Day with this fun 3-hour class that begins at 12:30 PM. Create luminous effects in skies, water and golden glows in your landscapes using dark beer and watercolor as your painting medium. Dark beers produced in the Asheville area will be used for warm tones in small paintings. Create 2 to 4 paintings, depending on your choices of subject and how quickly you work. Reference materials, beer for painting and a few select tube watercolors will be supplied. Some pieces will be pre-sketched to take the worry of drawing away, and allow you to paint more! No experience necessary. $90 Tuition.

April 9, 2016: Experimental Watercolor
Delve deep into new ways to work with watercolor in this full day hands on class, 10 AM-4 PM. This workshop is for artists with no or a lot of experience, but want to explore new  and free techniques with watercolor. Experiment with scrubbing, dripping, splashing and glazing and more in an unexpected way. Learn about different papers, non-traditional tools, brushes and painting on an easel. Start new work, bring your own work to salvage or enhance, bring your own reference or use what is provided. Experiment with light and dark before color and creating a strong mood before subject. Nadine is an award winning former New York artist now residing in Asheville, with a studio at 310 ART. $125/person.

Read more about Asheville Art Classes and Workshops.