It's all about the creek…and the mountains

Fine Dining

Fine dining at its best – Yes, right here in our little corner of the mountains.!
Whether it’s time to celebrate a special occasion or just enjoy a delicious meal prepared by a professional chef… when you’ve sampled all the local barbecue joints and catfish fish-fry’s here in our little corner of the mountains, then it’s time to check out these three fine-dining restaurants. For a memorable meal made with locally sourced ingredients—everything from local grass-fed beef to delectable spring greens grown on a nearby farm, served by friendly and professional servers– make a reservation at one of these unique local fine-dining choices.

Fine dining at its best on the Square in historic downtown Hayesville
2 Sullivan Street, Hayesville
Phone: 828-389-8460

Chef Dennis Barber got his first taste of the restaurant business while attending college in Hammond, LA. One of the grand historic homes in town was being renovated as a fine dining restaurant. The place was charming and offered an exceptional dining experience in the small town 50 miles north of New Orleans. Dennis grew up in New Orleans and was thrilled to see a restaurant of this caliber in his college town. The memory of dining experiences there stayed with him and he decided that one day he might like to try his hand at something similar. After ten years of service in the US Air Force as a B-52 radar navigator/bombardier, Dennis returned to his hometown of New Orleans and began culinary training at The Westin Canal Place. After 25 years of working for the Westin and other fine establishments, Chef Dennis was presented with the perfect opportunity for realizing his dream. He began renovating a service station off Hayesville’s historic square in 2005 and opened The Copper Door in March 2007.

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Brasstown The Crown

Perched high on a hill in the heart of the beautiful Brasstown valley.
139 Emily Lane, Brasstown NC
Phone: 828-516-1672
* Call for reservations *

General manager Donna Kaye Forsythe and executive chef Luke Conrad have created a dining experience unlike any other in the beautiful Brasstown valley west of Hayesville. Enjoy a farm-to-table and locally sourced lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch; craft cocktails, craft beer, and specialty wines. Overlooking rolling farmland and mountains and less than a mile from the John C. Campbell Folk School, The Crown in Brasstown offers a constantly changing menu highlighting our Southern Appalachian heritage, using modern and innovative takes on regional cooking with wild, locally sourced ingredients.

Cane Creek Vineyards

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Upscale cuisine nestled in the rolling hills of the Cane Creek Vineyards
916 Crane Creek Rd, Young Harris, GA
706-379-4174  –  for Paris and Company restaurant – reservations

706-379-1236  –  for Cane Creek Vineyards

Go to the Cane Creek Vineyards website,  then click on the slider for
Paris and Company “Learn More”

And be sure to visit their Facebook page for the latest menus
and lunch and dinner specials!

We’re always amazed at how folks find their way here to our little corner of the mountains, and Chef Sid and Nina are no exception. In 1985 Chef Sid and Nina met in Paris, France while taking her junior year of college abroad. They married in 1988 and began their life together in Naples, Florida. They have two beautiful daughters, Alexa and Sarina. In 2005, the family relocated to this beautiful mountain area where Chef Sid served as Executive Chef at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa until November 2014. After a few years in our old roadside location, we are happy to now offer fine-dining surrounded by the stunning vistas of Cane Creek Vineyards, working and serving our community together.

Cupcake Race Lake Chatuge 5k

cupcakes

A gooey cupcake and a 5k run?  Along the shores of one of most pristine lakes
found anywhere in the mountains?  Yes, indeed…
Pull on your running shoes and mark your calendars
for the Lake Chatuge 5k/10 Cupcake Race!

RUN THE JACKRABBIT TRAIL!
The Jackrabbit Trail system in the Jackrabbit Recreation Area just outside of Hayesville, NC has more than 13+ miles of inter-connected loop trails that follow the shores and moutains ridges of Lake Chatuge. The trail system is rated as one of the best running and mountain bike trails in North Carolina and is one of the natural highlights of our area. The trail is surrounded by the beautiful Lake Chatuge and along with a boating area, campgrounds and great places to visit in Hiawassee and Hayesville. So grab a cupcake, spend the weekend and enjoy the race!

When:    Saturday, October 5th

Where:   Jackrabbit Recreation Area
                    465 Jackrabbit Road                  
                    (off of NC Highway 175)

                    Hayesville, NC 28904

trail running

Franklin – It’s Worth a Trip Over the Mountain

Franklin, NC – it’s worth a trip over the mountain!  Head on over to Franklin for a day filled with museums, gem-mining, shopping, waterfalls and more!  Located just 28 miles east of Casa on the Creek, Franklin offers something for just about everyone in the family, of all ages. 
                                                                             So let’s make a day of it!

franklin nc

If you’re an early riser, start with a morning visit to Rufus Morgan Falls and the approach to Franklin.  A short, easy-to-moderate trail one-mile (roundtrip) leads you up to this beautiful 60-foot waterfall in the Nantahala forest.  The trail is well-marked. From the gravel parking area, it’s easiest to hike up to the falls by going counter-clockwise on the trail. It’s a moderate, but short climb and doable for even the youngest kids.  And the views of the falls are the big pay-off, as the water tumbles down the rockface surrounded by huge rock outcroppings and nearby rivulets coming down off the mountains.

After your visit to the falls, continue on for several miles and visit Wayah Bald and the Wayah Fire Tower.  On the way, you can visit the Wilson Lick Ranger Station and learn more about the national forest, trails, wildlife and more. Continue another 3 miles to Wayah Bald which provides a beautiful view of Franklin. From the parking area, a short paved trail leads up to the historic Wayah Bald Fire Tower.  The roof structure of the tower was destroyed during the autumn wildfires of 2016 but has since been rebuilt. The tower offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

wayah fire tower

By now you’re probably ready for some lunch, so head over to the town of Franklin for your choice of cafes, bakeries, craft breweries and more.  Some of our favorites are:
Caffe Rel
Gazebo Creekside Cafe
Frogtown Market
Lazy Hiker Brewing Company
Note: If you plan to visit any of these restaurants, or any others in town,
it’s always a good idea to call ahead and verify hours of operation.

After lunch it’s time to check out the several small museums in Franklin.  Want to learn about all things Scottish?  Visit the Scottish Tartans Museum right downtown.  Interested in the local geology of our mountains? Visit Ruby City Gems or the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum.  Learn more about the general history of Franklin and what it was like to live in the Appalachians years ago at the Macon County Historical Museum. Learn more about these local museums at www.discoverfranklinnc.com

scottish tartans museum
ruby city gems

Finally, end your day with a quiet late afternoon stroll along The Little Tennessee River Greenway, a walking/biking trail that meanders along the Little Tennessee River in Franklin, offering great views of the river and quiet spots to stop and rest after a busy day before heading back home to Casa on the Creek and our little corner of the mountains.

Thanks for visiting Franklin, NC!

Clingman’s Dome

Clingmans Dome might be one of most famous landmarks on the Appalachian Trail in the region of the Great Smoky Mountains and is the highest point along the entire length of the AT.  At a towering 6,643 feet, it is the highest peak in the Smokies and the third highest peak east of the Mississippi. 

What you need to know for a visit to Clingmans Dome… 
Make sure you’ve eaten your Wheaties for breakfast and you’ll be ready to climb the steep half-mile walk to the Dome’s observation tower. At 54-feet tall, the observation tower will give you a 360-degree panorama view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’re an early riser, plan to arrive at sunrise for one of the most spectacular shows Mother Nature can offer, when visibility on a clear day can be up to 100 miles distant. Or, head over in the late afternoon and take in the sunset, equally beautiful. You’ll find a terrific visitors center as well as restrooms in the parking lot area. Note that the trail to the tower is too steep to be wheelchair accessible. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on this or any other trails in the area. Opening day in 2019 is Saturday, March 30, weather permitting. 

The road to Clingmans Dome is normally closed from December 1 until April 1.  Opening day in 2019 is Saturday, March 30, weather permitting.

If you’re lucky, you might even get the thrill of an up-close-and-personal experience with some of the Park’s residents!

clingmans dome
clingmans dome
Clingmans Dome

Falls – Dry Falls

Falls – Dry Falls – Waterfalls… One of the most popular things to do here in our little corner of the mountains is to visit some of the many spectacular nearby waterfalls that can be found in our region. 

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Dry Falls – Have you ever had the adventure of walking behind a big waterfall?  Have you ever had your voice drowned out by the roar of millions of gallons of water rushing by an arm’s length away from you?  Head on over to Dry Falls just outside of Highlands and experience it for yourself. At 75 feet tall, Dry Falls belies its name—it’s a huge cascade that runs year-round that flows over an overhanging bluff as the Cullasaja River drops elevation in the Cullasaja Gorge. The Cullasaja River through the Nantahala National Forest and Dry Falls is part of a series of waterfalls on an 8.7-mile (14 km) stretch of the river that eventually ends with Cullasaja Falls. When the water flow is low, you can walk behind the falls without getting wet, hence the name. But in wet rainy periods, the falls is at its most spectacular – if you go, be sure to bring a slicker or waterproof jacket as you’re sure to get a little wet in the mist and splashing of the falls.

Dry Falls in Winter
During the coldest months, spectacular ice formation blanket Dry Falls
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Luxurious Green Foliage Covers the Falls
Visit on a hot summer day and get a welcome misty shower of cool water as the falls plunges over the gorge.
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Cave-like Rock Formations
Walk under the main falls and see the amazing cave-like rock formations seeping with the waters of the falls.
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Fall Colors at Dry Falls
A visit to Dry Falls in mid-to-late October and early November provides a truly spectacular photo opportunity to see Mother Nature dressed in her best colors.
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In the narrow and deep Cullasaja Gorge, the Cullasaja River rushes and drops in a series of cascades and waterfalls to the Tennessee River near Franklin. A two-lane highway called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, the combined route of U.S. 64 and NC 28, runs through the Cullasaja Gorge, which is mostly protected as part of the Nantahala National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has designated this to be a National Scenic Byway because of the river, and its numerous waterfalls. The highway clings to the north bank of the Cullasaja River. Though the road is narrow and the curves are frequent and sharp, it can be a fun and beautiful drive. There are many places to pull off, get out and enjoy the views of the river.

Dry Falls is easy to get to, heading east on Highway 64 towards Highlands, NC.  The parking area is right off the road (with bathrooms) with parking for several dozen cars, but note that at the height of summer and on weekends parking may be tight. To get to the falls, follow the path and then go down the series of steps to the walk-behind of the falls. Be sure to walk behind the falls and over to the end of the path for yet another fantastic view and photo opportunity of these magnificent falls.

After the falls, continue east on Highway 64/Mountain Waters Scenic Byway for several miles and you’ll get to the mountain town of Highlands, NC. Highlands is a great place to stop for lunch and get in a little shopping before continuing your waterfall adventure.  Be sure to check out a couple of other waterfalls in the area: Bridal Veil Falls (video below), Glen Falls and Secret Falls.

The Tusquittee Valley

Tusquittee Valley

First, let’s learn where the name “Tusquittee” came from…

“Where the Water Dogs Laughed”

salamander

According to folklore, a Cherokee hunter crossing over Tusquittee Bald in a very dry season, heard voices, and creeping silently toward the place from which the sound proceeded, peeped over a rock and saw two water-dogs walking together on their hind legs along the trail and talking as they went. Their pond had dried up and they were on the way over to Nantahala river. As he listened one said to the other, “Where’s the water? I’m so thirsty that my apron (gills) hangs down,” and then both water-dogs laughed.

But what exactly is a “Water Dog”?  The cool forests and plentiful rivers, streams and creeks of our little corner of the mountains of Appalachia make it the perfect home to more salamander species than any other part of the world. Appalachia may be known for many things: its music, its industry, its culture, but what about its salamanders? It turns out, of the 550 known salamander species in the world, 77 can be found in this mountainous area, more than any other one region in the world. Many of them can only be found there. Here at Casa on the Creek, you can walk just steps from your cabin and begin your search for these elusive creatures right in Tusquittee Creek as well as the smaller branch that runs through the property.

And now, what’s so special about the Tusquittee Valley,
or as we like to say, “our little corner of the mountains…”

Here’s what The Blue Ridge Highlander has to say:
The Tusquittee Valley located north of the town Hayesville is likely the most beautiful of the three.  Enclosed by high mountain ranges and dissected through its center by the Tusquittee Creek, Tusquittee Valley is by far something quite unique.  Most certainly this mountain valley is a prize-winning photo opportunity at every turn.  A mostly residential community this quiet serene mountain valley is revered by both its residents and regional mountain neighbors as well as visitors the Clay County. Our subdivision, called Tusquittee Landing, incorporates a 2700 foot grass airstrip. Most people assume the “Landing” refers to the airplanes landing. However, it actually is a carryover from the days where the mules dragged logs down from the forest to a landing on Goldmine Creek. The logs were then moved down the creek to Tusquittee Creek and eventually to the sawmill.

Tusquittee Valley
Tusquittee Valley
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John C Campbell Folk School

John C. Campbell Folk School – If you’re looking to add a little creativity, fun and sense of community spirit to your stay in the cozy North Carolina mountains, we highly recommend the John C. Campbell Folk School.  For more than 90 years, the school has been welcoming locals and visitors to learn about a vast range of different artistic endeavors. Just about every kind of visual and performance art and craft is on offer at the John C. Campbell Folk School, all in a friendly and warm environment.

We certainly think there’s something about Hayesville and the surrounding area that inspires creativity. Perhaps it’s the sight of the mountains, the fresh air or the sound of the babbling creek – whatever it is, why not channel your inspiration into creating something beautiful? The John C. Campbell Folk School will definitely help you do that!

John C Campbell Folk School

History of the John C. Cambpell Folk School  
The John C. Folk School has a long history dating back more than a century. Its namesake, John C. Campbell, was inspired by the traditional arts and handicrafts of the Appalachian mountain people. He wanted to help keep these traditions alive and also promote education through lifelong learning.  John had seen folk schools in the countryside of Denmark, and how they fostered community spirit and happiness. He and his wife, Olive, discussed the idea of bringing a similar school to beautiful Appalachia. Unfortunately, the school did not happen in John’s lifetime, however Olive decided to start one in his memory. Working in collaboration with a friend, Marguerite Butler, and the local community, the John C. Campbell Folk School opened its doors in 1925.  Almost a century later, the folk school is still going strong!

John C Campbell Folk School

Classes at the Folk School
The John C. Campbell Folk School promotes learning in a non-competitive environment. This means there are no grades or complicated assignments – just a fun environment to try your hand at new things and meet new people. The school has a calendar simply brimming with short courses on a range of topics. They are generally either weekend or week-long courses, and the array of activities is nothing short of spectacular. From basket weaving to photography to woodcarving and everything in between, there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy. Best of all, people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the courses.  The quality of teaching is excellent, so experienced creatives are sure to be inspired by new techniques, ideas and approaches. On the other hand, even the absolute beginner is sure to feel supported and welcomed, and go away having learned a new skill.

Events at the John C. Campbell Folk School
One of the aims of the school is to foster community spirit, so it frequently holds fun events where everyone is welcome. The calendar changes regularly so it’s best to check their websites, but these often include dances, music concerts, art auctions and various charity events as well. Like with the school, everyone is welcome and there’s no minimum or maximum age to participate! Who not see if something is on during your stay, and drop by?

Museum and Craft Shop
If you’d like to see the school but aren’t sure about doing a class or attending an event, then the museum or craft shop may be perfect! Of course, they’re also worth a visit even if you are doing a class too.  The museum, or history center, is free to enter and traces the history of the folk school. There are various photographs, documents and videos of the school over the years, showing what has changed, and what has stayed the same. It’s an interesting insight into the school, and also how it has shaped the community. There’s also a fantastic craft shop on the premises, which sells some of the best examples of the crafts made at the school. Most of them are traditional Appalachian crafts, but with a modern touch. You can find everything from beautiful jewelry and homewares, to souvenir postcards and shirts from the folk school.

If you’re inspired to do some crafts at home (or perhaps back in your cabin or cottage!) then you can also pick up some high-quality art and craft supplies. It’s definitely a great place to find a beautiful souvenir of your stay in our little corner of the mountains.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

joyce_kilmer_forest

The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is one of the country’s  most impressive remnants of old-growth forest. The forest contains magnificent examples of more than 100 tree species, many over 400-years-old, and some more than 20 feet in circumference and 100 feet tall. The forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slick Rock Wilderness and is maintained in its primitive state. This 3,800-acre forest was set aside in 1936 as a memorial to the author of the poem “Trees,” Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in action in France during World War I.

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
 
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
 
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
 
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
joyce_kilmer_forest

If you’re looking for an easy, family-friendly hike in the woods, then look no further than the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in Robbinsville. Take this two-mile hike to see poplar, hemlock, red and white oak, basswood, beech and sycamore. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is home to some of the oldest and largest trees to be found anywhere east of the Mississippi. The forest is a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, an extremely diverse forest type unique to our area of the Appalachians.  Home to poplar, hemlock, red and white oak, basswood, beech and sycamore, some of the trees are more than 400 years old and rise to heights of over 100 ft. and have circumferences of up to 20 ft.! 

Joyce Kilmer Forest
Joyce Kilmer Forest

The Plight of the Hemlocks
Unfortunately, hemlock trees in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest have become infested with a non-native invasive insect pest, the hemlock woolly adelgid. This aphid-like insect feeds on the hemlock’s sap. To enhance safety while hiking, forest rangers have felled many dead trees. As this is a wilderness area, the trees were taken down in a way that mimics the effects of wind or ice storms. Explosives were used to bring down the dead hemlocks instated of saws, so they appear to have fallen from nature’s forces. The stumps and logs were not removed, but left to decay naturally. You will see several large dead hemlocks still standing.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located about 15 miles from Robbinsville in the western part of Graham County adjacent to Lake Santeetlah. From Robbinsville, take Highway 129 north for 1.5 miles to the junction with Highway 143 west (Massey Branch Road). Turn left and proceed west on Highway 143 for approximately 5 miles to a stop sign. Turn right onto Kilmer Road. You will drive for about 7.3 miles and arrive at the top of Santeetlah Gap and the junction with the Cherohala Skyway. Bear to your right and continue on for another 2.5 miles to the entrance of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Turn left into the entrance and it is about 1/2-mile to the parking area. There are picnic tables, grills and restrooms.

Breweries and Craft Beer

breweries

You’ll find several breweries specializing in fresh, seasonal craft beers with here in our little corner of the mountains. Craft beer is synonymous with creativity, adventurousness and an extremely intense flavor experience and for those of you looking for something above and beyond the ho-hum beers produced by large breweries in big cities, you need look no further!  

Valley River Brewery
994 US Hwy 64-Bus. in downtown Hayesville
(across from Methodist church)
828-389-1472
Wine also served. Pizza, sandwiches, burgers & more!

Nocturnal Brewing Company
893 US 64-Bus. in downtown Hayesville
(across from Molly & Me Antiques)
828-305-7337

Hayesville Brewing Company
1568 US-64 West, Hayesville
828-835-6010
(across from Jacky Jones Ford)

And now, let’s learn a little bit more about how craft beer is made
and what makes craft beers so special. 

Waterfalls – Whitewater Falls

Okay, here’s a quiz – what’s the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies? 
And where can you find it?
Get ready to explore our area’s waterfalls!

It’s Whitewater Falls on the Whitewater River in the Jocassee Gorge area of Jackson County, NC, not far from the town of Cashiers.  Located close the NC/SC state line, Whitewater’s upper falls plunge over 400 feet, making Whitewater Falls the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains.  And just over the border in South Carolina is the lower falls, another 200+ foot spectacular.  Located just south of the town of Cashiers (Highway 64-east), a day trip to visit the both waterfalls, driving through the beautiful mountains and scenery of the Nantahala National Forest, is sure to make memories to last a lifetime.

Whitewater Falls is located in an escarpment of the Nantahala National Forest, and because of the escarpment’s difficult access and rugged, rocky terrain, this area receives fewer visitors than other more popular sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The area has remained wild and undeveloped and offers a perfect getaway into the majesty and tranquility of the woods.  Wander along some of the trails in these cool moist woods and you’ll find wildflowers and ferns in abundance. In the springtime, enjoy the flowery show of wild rhododendrons and flame azaleas in bloom. Hike along trails that follow steep slopes to rock cliffs offering vistas of the mountain ranges near and far.

But the highlight of a visit to the Nantahala forest is your first view of magnificent Whitewater Falls. In a series of waterfalls and cascades on the Whitewater River in North Carolina and South Carolina, the river traverses more than 3.5 miles across the state line between the upper falls (NC) and the lower falls (SC).

The best views of the falls are from the two overlooks, accessed from the parking area. Follow the paved, wheelchair accessible walkway from the end of the parking lot to the overlook for the upper falls.  The walkway can generally be managed by people of all ages, from babies to grannies.  Continues down a long wooden staircase to a lower overlook for another view of the falls.

The hike: More energetic hikers can continue down the half-mile spur trail that drops 600 feet in elevation to the Whitewater River and Foothills Trail. As of this writing, the trail was considered difficult due to washouts and large amounts of debris.  Many people follow the Foothills Trail for the hike experience, as the views of the falls at the bottom can sometimes be obscured by overhanging limbs and foliage.

The video below provides a great overview of both the upper and lower falls and a good idea of what to expect if you decide to hike the Foothills Trail from one to the other.