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Those who read this column regularly are aware of my interest in the early descriptive literature of Western North Carolina. Whenever possible, I like to collect copies — first editions or reprints — of these often rare books. And I like to share some of the descriptions via this column from time to time.

The towns of WNC

Western North Carolina is a region of small, vibrant downtowns. Each has its own personality and history, so take the time to get out of your car and meander, sit on a bench, and just enjoy your time in these unique places.

WNC museums

WNC Museums Although the rich history and culture of Western North Carolina is alive and thriving through the hands of our local artisans and performers, there are also numerous museums here preserving and perpetuating the heritage of Southern Appalachia. These buildings each pay homage to the crafts, sounds, and deeply held traditions of these ancient mountains and its people.

• American Museum of The House Cat

Over 5,000 items dedicated to entire history of the house cat, here and abroad. 4704 U.S. 441 South, Sylva.

828.421.0275 or 828.506.1236 •

• Andrews Art Museum

Exhibits and galleries featuring local and regional artists. Corner of Chestnut and Third streets, Andrews.

828.360.5071 •

• Canton Area Historical Museum

Displays focusing on the cultural history of Canton and Haywood County. 36 Park Street, Canton.

828.646.3412 •

• Cherokee County Historical Museum

Artifacts and exhibits showcasing the Cherokee Indians, local history and artisans.

87 Peachtree Street, Murphy.

828.837.6792 •

• Clay County Historical & Arts Council Museum

Displays exhibiting the history, art and people of the area. 21 Davis Loop, Hayesville.

828.389.6814 •

• Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum

Extensive exhibits on the region’s gems and minerals. 25 Phillips Street, Franklin

828.369.7831 •

• Glenville Historical Museum

Showcasing the history and culture of Glenville and greater Western North Carolina with exhibits and displays. 4735 N.C. 107 North, Glenville.


• Graham County Museum of Prehistoric Relics

A collection of prehistoric artifacts from North, South and Central America. 3204 Fontana Road, Fontana Dam.

828.479.3677 •

• Highlands Museum & Historical Village

Several restored buildings, with historical exhibits in the museum. 524 North 4th Street, Highlands.

828.787.1050 •

• Junaluska Memorial & Museum

Displays dedicated to preserving Cherokee Indian history and culture. 1 Junaluska Drive, Robbinsville.


• Macon County Historical Society & Museum

Antiques and artifacts showcasing the history of Macon and Western North Carolina. 36 West Main Street, Franklin.

828.524.9758 •

• Mountain Farm Museum

Collection of historical log buildings and artifacts. 150 U.S. 441 North, Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

423.436.1200 •

• Mountain Heritage Center

Extensive displays of Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachian history. 150 H.F. Robinson Building, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee.

828.227.7129 •

• Museum of American Cut & Engraved Glass

Presenting one of the finest collections of its kind in the world. 472 Chestnut Street, Highlands.

828.526.3415 •

• Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Large exhibits showcasing the extensive and intricate tribe history. 589 Tsali Boulevard, Cherokee.

828.497.3481 •

• Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts

Unique works from some of the state’s most acclaimed artisans. 49 Shelton Street, Waynesville.

828.452.1551 •

• Ruby City Gems Museum

Thousands of gem and mineral specimens on display. 131 East Main Street, Franklin.

828.524.3967 •

• Scottish Tartans Museum

Exhibit on Scottish history and culture abroad and in Western North Carolina. 86 East Main Street, Franklin.

828.524.7472 •

• Wheels Through Time Museum

Rare and extensive collection of vintage motorcycles and classic automobiles. 62 Vintage Lane, Maggie Valley.

828.926.6266 •

• World Methodist Museum

Artifacts and memorabilia celebrating founder John Wesley and the worldwide religion. 575 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska.

828.456.9432 •

While a draft forest management plan is still nearly a year away, a group of recently released documents gives a glimpse into how the U.S. Forest Service might ultimately manage the 1.2 million acres in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest over the next 20 years.

As the candidate sign-up period for November’s municipal elections opens at noon on Friday, July 7, voters in most municipalities will start to learn who’s in, who’s out, who’s moving on and who’s moving up.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls is easy to get to and impossible to miss. If you are headed west from Highlands through the Cullasaja Gorge on U.S. 64, the falls will go over a small pull off road on the right. The falls isn’t nearly as impressive as the other falls in the Gorge, but after all, how often do you get the chance to drive your car under a waterfall?

Bridal Veil Falls is 2.3 miles west of Highlands on U.S. 64. You’ll see a pull off road on the right side of U.S. 64 under the falls.

Dry Falls

Dry Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Western North Carolina and an easy stop if you are seeing the other falls on U.S. 64 through the Cullasaja Gorge. Visitors can walk behind the falls and to the other side. The powerful waterfall is about 65 feet tall.

Dry Falls is in between Quarry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls about three miles west of Highlands on U.S. 64. There’s a small parking area on the left if you are headed west. Signs mark the falls on both sides of the road. If you come on a Saturday during peak tourist season, a parking space will be hard to come by. The trail to the falls is short with some steps.

Cullasaja Falls

Cullasaja Falls is the final waterfall on the Cullasaja River before leaving the Gorge. The falls, a 200-foot cascade, is powerful and beautiful. You can get a good view of it from the road, but it would be difficult to get to the base. The downside to Cullasaja Falls is that the pull off is small and is a dangerous place for traffic to stop.

Cullasaja Falls is about two and a half miles west of Quarry Falls on U.S. 64.The pull off is small and at a sharp curve. The small pull off fills up quickly during peak tourism days. Heading west, the pull off is on the left side of the road.

Mingo Falls

On the Qualla Indian Reservation in Cherokee, you’ll find the popular Mingo Falls. A small creek falls about 150 feet over mossy rocks. Access to the falls is good – if you can handle lots of steps. A small bridge goes across the creek, giving hikers a face on view of the falls.

Coming from Cherokee, head north on U.S. 441. You’ll turn right onto Acquoni Road. There will be signs telling you to turn there for Big Cove Road. In about .1 mile, turn left on to Big Cove Road. Again you’ll see signs pointing to Big Cove Road. Drive about 5 miles and turn right into Mingo Falls Campground. The parking area is straight ahead. The trail starts there, goes up a lot of stairs, levels out and comes to a bridge overlooking the falls. The trail is about 265 yards.

Soco Falls

Soco Falls is one of the closest large falls to Waynesville. Two creeks flow over steep rock cascades at a right angle from each other. There’s a wooden platform that faces the higher of the two falls. The other falls is nearly impossible to see face on without going down to the base of the falls. There's a really steep dirt incline that goes down there without a lot to hold on to.

From Waynesville, drive north on U.S. 19. You’ll pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway. After passing the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive 1.4 miles to a pull off on the left. At the corner before the pull off you want, you’ll see a large gravel pull off. This is actually a private driveway and not the way to Soco Falls. A sign on the right side of the road will tell you to go another half mile. Find a pull off with a guardrail.

A short, steep path goes down between the guardrails. Follow the trail, which leads to a wooden platform. The trail beyond the platform is steeper and more difficult but will take you to the top of one of the falls. A dirt incline leads to the bottom of the falls that you’d have to slide down. It looks like it would be a challenge to get back up.

Midnight Hole

There’s not much of a waterfall at Midnight Hole, but if you’re looking for a good place to jump in the water, this is it. Midnight Hole is very popular and crowded at times. There’s a rope that goes up one of the boulders so swimmers can jump off the rocks into the pool. The water is cold and crystal clear and feels wonderful after a hike on a hot, muggy afternoon.

Take I-40 Exit 451 in Tennessee. It will be the first exit after you cross the state line. Stay left after crossing the Pigeon River and follow the road 2 miles. You’ll drive by a power plant and community park. You’ll come to a stop sign at an intersection. Go straight through the intersection and enter the Big Creek section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Follow the gravel road .8 miles to a picnic area and campground entrance.

From the parking area, walk back up the road. You’ll see a sign on the left for the trailhead. The hike to Midnight Hole is about 1.5 miles. Stay on the main path and the hole is on the left. The hike is easy. Horses and their riders also frequent the trail.

Waterfall on West Fork Pigeon River

The waterfall on West Fork Pigeon River runs under an old stone bridge on N.C. 215. Although this waterfall isn’t one to plan a trip around, if you’re driving to the other falls on N.C. 215, it’s worth a stop. You can take shots from the road and the bridge but watch out for traffic. I tried to hike down to the base of the falls and failed miserably. I wouldn’t recommend trying it.

The waterfall is under a bridge on N.C. 215, 4.2 miles from where N.C. 215 crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s 13.6 miles south of where N.C. 215 intersects with U.S. 276.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road that winds for 469 miles from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive in Virginia to U.S. 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee.

Biking hot spots

This is one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the Smokies, one easily witnessed by all the vehicles with mountain bikes strapped to the back or top. Pretty straightforward as to why so may partake of this sport: the Smokies contain some of the best bike trails anywhere. Here are the popular spots:

Tsali Recreation Area (Graham County)

This is the granddaddy of Western North Carolina mountain biking, boasting 40 miles of trails on four loops. Rated as one of top 10 places to ride in the U.S. Fast, hard-packed singletrack, and you can’t go wrong with any of the loops. Off N.C. 28 past Bryson City, or if coming from Robbinsville N.C. 143 until you reach N.C. 28, go east. Entrance on north side of N.C. 28, well-marked.

Santeetlah Lake Trail

A 15-mile trail open to mountain bikes, horses, and hikers. The trail follows a number of open and gated Forest Service roads with a short portion of single-track. Large sections of the trail hug the shoreline of Lake Santeetlah offering beautiful mountain lake views. The primary trailhead is located at the intersection of N.C. 143 (N.C. 1127) and Snowbird Road.

Jackrabbit Mountain (Lake Chatuge)

Located next to the huge Jackrabbit Campground at Lake Chatuge, this 14-mile trail system is gaining popularity fast. Mostly flat with rolling dips and berms and just a few technical areas. At Lake Chatuge get on N.C. 175, turn onto Jackrabbit Road, signed parking area on left.

Western Carolina University Trail (Cullowhee)

Recently opened 6.6 miles of singletrack across the street from main WCU campus in Cullowhee. Challenging but relatively short. The trail system has two trailheads. One is located near the softball field and picnic area on WCU main campus, east of N.C. 107. Trail users then travel through the pedestrian tunnel under 107 and access the trail on NCCAT property. The second trailhead is located at the parking lot of the Health and Human Sciences building.

Bent Creek (Asheville)

Located near where N.C. 191 intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway and I-26, this favorite among Asheville locals because of its proximity to this outdoors-loving city. Lots of hardpacked singletrack with very few technical sections, great place for beginner to intermediate riders and for children.

Dupont State Park (Brevard)

This has become one of the premier destinations in the region. 10,000 acres of trails, waterfalls, and rivers. Great spot with numerous trailheads.

Pisgah National Forest (Brevard)

Hundreds of miles of trails for bikers, some of it among the most technical in the region. For information on specific trails and trailheads, visit

Live music is an important part of the heritage of Western North Carolina. Here’s a listing of venues that regularly have bands in the region:


• Andrews Brewing — 828.321.2006 •

• Hoppy Trout Brewing Company — 828.835.2111 •

• Jimmy’s Pick-N-Grin —


• John C. Campbell Folk School — 800.365.5724 or 828.837.2775 —

Bryson City

• CJ’s Grille 828.488.9880

• Derailed Bar & Lounge 828.488.8898  

• Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Depot — 800.872.4681 •

• Mickey’s Pub 828.488.9308

• Nantahala Brewing — 828.488.2337 •

• Nantahala Outdoor Center — 888.905.7238 •


• Colonial Theatre — 828.235.2760 •

• Southern Porch  828.492.8009


• Ugly Dog Pub — 828.743.3000 •


• Harrah’s Cherokee — 828.497.7777 •


• Tuck’s Tap & Grille — 828.293.5400 •


• Lazy Hiker Brewing — 828.342.5133 •

• Mixers Bar and Nightclub — 828.369.9211 •

• Mulligan’s Bar & Grille — 828.349.3183 •

• Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts — 828.524.1598 •


• Chevelle’s — 828.835.7001 •

• Peacock Performing Arts Center — 828.389.2787 •


• Lost Hiker — 828.526.8232 •

• Martin-Lipscomb Performing Arts Center — 828.526.9047 • 

• Satulah Mountain Brewing — 828.482.9794 •

• Ugly Dog Pub — 828.526.8364 •

Maggie Valley

• Eaglenest 828.926.9658

• Maggie Valley Festival Grounds — 828.926.0866 •

• Maggie Valley Opry House — 828.648.7941 or 828.926.9336 —

• Maggie Valley Rendezvous — 828.926.0201 •

• Salty Dog’s Seafood and Grill 828.926.9105

• Stompin’ Ground 828.926.1288


• Chevelle’s — 828.389.6069 •


• Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center — 828.479.3364 •


• Balsam Mountain Inn and Restaurant — 800.224.9498 •

• City Lights Café — 828.587.2233 • 

• Cut Cocktail Lounge — 828.631.4795 

• Evolution Wine Kitchen  — 828.631.9856 — 

• Guadalupe Café — 828.586.9877 •

• Heinzelmannchen Brewery — 828.631.4466 —

• Innovation Brewing — 828.586.9678 •

• Mad Batter Food & Film — 828.586.3555 • 

• No Name Sports Pub — 828.586.2750 •

• O’Malley’s Pub & Grill 828.631.0554 

• Signature Brew Coffee Roasting Company — 828.587.6300

• Soul Infusion — 828.586.1717 •

• Sneak E Squirrel — 828.586.6440 •


• BearWaters Brewing — 828.246.0602 •

• Boojum Brewing — 828.944.0888 •

• Classic Wineseller — 828.452.6000 •

• Frog Level Brewing — 828.454.5664 •

• Mad Anthony’s Bottle Shop & Beer Garden — 828.246.9249 •

• Smoky Mountain Roasters — 828.452.1212 —

• The Strand at 38 Main — 828.283.0079 •

• Tipping Point Brewing — 828.246.9230 •

• Water’n Hole Bar & Grill 828.456.4750

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