WNC Travel Guide
In 2013, Western Carolina University cut the ribbon on 7-mile trail system zig-zagging an otherwise unbuildable piece of university property.
Over the five years since, the trails have become an indispensible resource for mountain bikers — as well as trail runners and hikers — in the Cullowhee area, and last fall a trio of WCU employees set out to back up those observations with hard numbers.
With the traffic and noise of a busy Main Street in downtown Waynesville zooming by outside her window, Jo Ridge Kelley creates works of tranquility and natural wonders inside her cozy studio.
“I love being able to pull from myself,” she said. “I’m a very soulful person, and painting is a way to work with my feelings — to be living in the moment.”
Ten years into his tenure with Balsam Range, Tim Surrett can only shake his head.
“The most amazing factor is that somebody hasn’t gotten killed in 10 years,” he chuckled. “It’s amazing because every band in the world is one bad weekend from nonexistence. We’ve been through a lot, ups and downs, frustrations and traveling distances, and it’s still relevant after 10 years. I don’t know how long that will last, but it’s cool to me that it’s still top-shelf relevant.”
You’ve probably driven by the Red Barn Greenhouse & Garden Center on Dellwood Road between Maggie Valley and Waynesville. But, have you ever stopped in?
Tucked between rows of beautiful flowers on one end and the Mountain Museum filled with Appalachian artifacts on the other are several shelves of corn shuck dolls. The intricate doll designs and scenes they’re set in come straight out of the creative mind and nimble fingers of Karen Collis, a highly-sought after artist in this centuries-old craft medium.
The proud communities that make up Western North Carolina were once mountain towns that played host to several successful blue-collar industries. These companies found a crucial, much-needed balance alongside the serene beauty and endless natural resources of our forests, rivers and wildlife.
Though the culinary and agricultural history of Southern Appalachia is as vast and robust as the tall and rigorous mountains that make up this region, the intense worldwide focus and adoration for the ingredients, recipes and folks who stir it all together is more of a 21st century phenomenon.
It took over 30 years, but Harold Sims can now show the world.
“It’s been very rewarding,” he said. “I wanted to have a cat shelter, I made that come true. I wanted to have a cat museum, and I made that come true. It’s like the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ — ‘if you build it, they will come.’”