It's all about the creek…and the mountains

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!

Toyota Bassmaster Angler Of The Year Championship

bass fishing

Toyota Bassmaster Angler Of The Year Championship!  
Our little corner of the mountains is hosting the Toyota Bassmaster National Championship!  The championship will be managed at the tournament headquarters in Hiawassee, but you can bet they’ll be lots of anglers heading right up here to the north end of the lake to try their skill and luck at landing a record trophy.

Before the fishing begins, the best bass anglers in the world gather for the Night of Champions. Brandon Palaniuk speaks from the heart in front of the anglers who inspired him to win his Angler of the Year title in 2017. The self-professed B.A.S.S. geek, shares how he went from living in a trailer to a professional bass angler.

lake chatuge

Craig Lamb writes on the tournament’s website:
“YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Duplicate a rotation of tactics, lures and locations that put bass in the livewell and you have a pattern. Whoever scores with the best pattern this week will win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Chatuge.

There is a hitch. Before the winner patterned the bass, he will likely have patterned the bait. The old adage “find the bait, find the bass” rings more true here than most tournament fisheries.

Bass are so adaptive to a given lake environment they will favor whatever forage is most plentiful and easy to prey upon. The prolific and fast-growing blueback herring fit the bill on many lakes, including Chatuge.

Throughout the 7,500 acres of the north Georgia impoundment is an overabundance of the landlocked saltwater baitfish. By their open-water, nomadic nature they stay on the move. Coincidentally so do their primary predator. That is the spotted bass, also an open-water species that spends a lot of time searching for their favorite source of food. 

Committing to fishing specific spots is risky business on a herring-dominated bass lake. Keeping up with blueback herring movements is the wiser approach. And that is the hitch. Pattern the herring and you will likely pattern the bass. 

“When they are not spawning blueback herring are deeper than most baitfish, and they roam even more,” said Davy Hite, a native South Carolinian and analyst for Bassmaster LIVE. “That makes them tough to find, and keep up with, but that can be your only choice when the bass are in a feeding mode.”

Alpacas – Love These Fuzzy Friends

alpacas

Love those alpacas!  Love that fluffy feeling! Love those baby-faces!

alpacas
alpacas
alpacas
alpacas

Looking for a different kind of family fun?  Head to Two Crows Farms Alpacas!  
Two Crows Farm, located in the southwestern most corner of North Carolina outside of Murphy, is home to 43 delightful alpacas, 1 noble llama, 5 loyal dogs and 2 working cats. Two Crows Farm promotes the rural lifestyle, which for its owners, Woody and Mike Hamm, includes raising alpacas for their luxurious fiber. Woody and Mike invite you to come learn about raising livestock, processing yarn, growing your food and the sense of community that living in the country brings. 

And after you’ve made friends with all the alpacas and their crias and all the other farm critters at Two Crows Farm, be sure to visit their shop, filled with some of the most luxurious alpaca items you’ve ever run your hands across. With everything from scarves to shawls to baby items and running socks, the Two Crows shop is everything alpaca.  Here’s a sampling of some of the beautifully woven items you’ll find in the shop.

 

Q: What do you call Alpacas taking over the world? A: The Alpacalypse!

But first, let’s learn a little bit more about this amazing animal…
Related to the llama and the familiar one- and two-hump camels seen at the zoo, the alpaca is one of six species of camelids that exist today.  There are two alpaca breeds, the huacaya and the suri.  Huacaya alpacas have dense, fluffy fleece while suri alpacas have long, curly fiber.  Their fiber is sheared once every one to two years and can be processed to create blankets, clothing, and other beautiful products.  Suri is a less common variety of alpaca. The fiber of suri alpacas grows parallel to the body and hangs down the sides of the body in curly ringlets. Suri fiber doesn’t stand out from the body, but parts along the backbone and hangs along the sides giving the animal a slender, sleek look.

There are twenty-two natural basic colors of alpacas ranging from black to white—including many different browns, grays, tans, and creams.  Alpacas tend to be more a single, uniform color than llamas, but occasionally will have white markings on the face, neck, or legs. Alpacas weigh approximately 150 to 200 pounds and are about 3 feet tall at the withers.  A baby alpaca, or cria, is born weighing about 15 pounds after approximately 11 months of gestation.  The average life span of an alpaca is 15 to 25 years.  Unique features of an alpaca include their soft padded feet with 2 toe-nails, their dental pad rather than upper teeth, and their use of humming and spitting as a form of communication.

Q: Wanna go on a picnic? Alpaca lunch.

Some fun facts about these fuzzy friends…
1) Like their cousins the llamas, alpacas spit when angry or annoyed. Many a too-close camera lens has been the bulls-eye for well-aimed wad of ick!

2) Alpacas are good lawnmowers– when alpacas grass, they snip off the top of the plant unlike some other animals that pull the grass up by the root.

3) Alpacas have soft pads on their feet, which don’t churn up the ground like a cow or horse’s hooves do— another reason to hire a young’un to chomp your grass.

4) The animals have interesting pooping habits. On some farms, the alpacas have grown accustomed to pooping in a giant-sized litter box—no muss, no fuss!

5 No middle of the night calls– mothers almost always have their babies in the morning. 

6) Females have an 11-month gestation period and when it’s time, they just go into labor and deliver the baby within an hour.  There’s gotta be some jealous moms out there reading this about now.

7) Alpacas love to sunbathe. You might see a herd of alpacas all lying down on their side in a field—it can be pretty weird looking since they kind of look like they’ve dropped dead.

 

Two Crows Farm
1495 Boiling Springs Road
Murphy, North Carolina 28906
(828) 837-1678

alpaca baby
alpacas
alpacas
alpacas

Harrah’s Valley River Casino

Harrah's Valley River Casino

Harrah’s Valley River Casino in Murphy… Feeling lucky?
Harrah’s Valley River Casino boasts over 50,00 square feet of gaming floors and one of the largest selection of slots in the country – more than 1,000!  Among the slots you’ll find favorites such as Wheel of Fortune, Monopoly, Quick Hits and Blazing Sevens.  You’ll also find all of the traditional live gaming tables—mini-baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker games such as Mississippi Stud, three-card poker and more. 

“All the evidence shows that God was actually quite a gambler, and the universe is a great casino, where dice are thrown, and roulette wheels spin on every occasion.” ~ Stephen Hawking

casino
casino guests

And the wheel spins… Roulette!
Named after the French word for little wheel, roulette is a game where players can choose from several different types of bets on the table, choosing a single number (lowest pay-out), to various groupings of numbers, the colors red or black, whether numbers are odd or even, or even if the numbers are high (19-36) or low (1-18).  The croupier spins the wheel in one direction, then spins the little ball in the opposite direction until it eventually slows down and lands on the wheel in one of pockets on the wheel.

When you’re hungry, head to the Valley River’s Food Market.
Located adjacent to the casino floor, you’ll find offerings from Nathans Famous hotdogs, Panda Express (gotta love that orange chicken!), a large selection of sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich, Papa John’s pizza and Starbucks (mocha caramel frapuccino–yes!).  Enjoy a drink with friends at the casino bar which offers a full assortment of wine, beers and spirits to suit your taste.

Nathans Famous
Panda Express
Earl of Sandwich
Papa John's Pizza
Starbucks

Harrah’s Valley River Casino campus also includes the River Tower, a seven-story hotel that offers plush accommodations with over 300 non-smoking rooms, filled with all the amenities you’ve come to expect at a deluxe Harrah’s resort.  

Harrah’s Valley River Casino is an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The campus is located just a few miles north of Hwy 64/74 in Murphy, NC (just north of Walmart).
    Phone:  (828) 422-7777                            Address:  777 Casino Parkway, Murphy, NC Phone

 

casino slots

There’s always something fun to do here in our little corner of the mountains…
Get out and play!

Whitewater Rafting – Get Wet!

whitewater rafting
rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular outdoor activities here in our little corner of the mountains.   Perhaps you rented a pontoon boat and had a quiet day on Lake Chatuge and now you’re looking for a little more action.  Then eat your Wheaties, drum up some courage on, head on over to the Ocoee River and check in with one of several outfitters who will take you on a wet and wild ride that you won’t soon forget. 

First, a little history about the Ocoee River and some background about the when and why it has become such a mecca for whitewater enthusiasts from all over the country and around the world.  The Ocoee River was dammed to build hydroelectric plants and became part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s efforts to provide a continuous source of reliable electric power to the region. The Ocoee No. 1 and Ocoee No. 2 Dams were built between 1910 and 1913 featuring wooden flumes that divert the waters of the Upper and Middle Ocoee along an elevated path before they drop into the hydroelectric powerhouses. In September 1976, the wooden flume diverting water on the Middle Ocoee was shut down for reconstruction and the river ran unabated. The river attracted lots of attention as boaters flocked to the Middle Ocoee to run its five miles of continuous whitewater rapids. Rafting companies sprang up while the TVA hurried to repair the flume to again divert water from the Ocoee. After much resistance and a Congressional Act, TVA agreed to schedule 116 days of recreational whitewater releases per year on the Middle Ocoee. Whitewater racing events have been held on the Ocoee since 1978, bringing the river to the attention of the world. The Ocoee has also been called the birthplace of freestyle kayaking, hosting the first-ever Ocoee Rodeo at Second Helping in 1983. The Ocoee has become one of the most popular whitewater rivers in the world, attracting over 250,000 visitors annually.

The whitewater slalom events during the 1996 Summer Olympics were conducted on a one-mile Olympic whitewater course that is fed by releases of water from Ocoee Dam #3 on the river. After the Olympics, rafting tours started, provided by several different companies located in both directions on U.S. 64, which runs next to the river for a few miles. These outfitters provide other activities on and along the river such as biking, hiking, kayaking and zip-lining.

The Middle Ocoee’s numerous rapids and river formations offer a wealth of currents and surf for creative and skilled paddlers. Rapids are Class III for its entirety and the Ocoee requires at least strong intermediate skills and a solid river roll (kayakers) for a successful run. The action is fairly continuous from top to bottom, letting up only for a half-mile known as the Doldrums. If you are not an experienced whitewater rafter or kayaker, the best way for you to experience the thrills and excitement of the rapids is by arranging a trip with one of the many outfitters and whitewater guide companies that line the river. 

Get In On The Fun And Get Wet!

L.H. said:
My family and I had a wonderful time with the NOC on their Ocoee rafting trip. We got lucky with only being on a trip with one other raft, and the six of us in one raft. Phil was our guide and he was amazing. Oliver was the guide for the other boat and he made the intro/pre-trip meeting very entertaining. The river is great no matter what, but a good guide takes it up a notch. I would highly recommend NOC to friends and family, it was a seamless process from booking a week prior to the trip back to the outpost.

Jim D. said:
We did the full day combo trip it was great. We passed several other rafts on the river from other companies and noticed that the noa rafters were full of smiles and having fun. Our guide Dakota was outstanding we talked pretty well the whole trip whether it was learning about the river or getting to know him and the group as a whole. We made it through all the rapids without anyone falling out. We did some surfing went down a rapid backwards just to make it more intense. Awesome first time rafting experience!

Reb W. said:
I took my son on an adventure weekend to Ocoee, TN and we were not disappointed. the Nantahala Outdoor Center did an amazing job with our tour and our guide, Guinness, was the best. With over 10 years of experience he knew every rock in the river. He had us doing tricks in that boat that I’ve only seen from Kayakers such as surfing and spinning the boat. He was knowledgeable, fun, and made it all seem so easy. I HIGHLY recommend NOC Ocoee Outpost for anyone looking for a great adventure that is also fun!

Scott K. said:
We had an absolutely fantastic time rafting and zip lining. Sara was our whitewater guide and she was incredibly informative and enthusiastic. Ben and Chuy were our zip guides and they were just awesome people. Had sherpa for lunch at the restaurant and it was delicious. We will be back! What an adventure!
 

For A More Family-Friendly, Milder River Run...

For beginners to whitewater rafting, or families with younger children, or if you’re just looking to try a slightly milder whitewater adventure, find your way to Nantahala Outdoor Center’s rafting trips on the Nantahala River (in Bryson City, NC).  Here you’ll find Class II and Class III rapids.  The water’s colder here (it’s released from the bottom of the dam– a chilly 55-degrees or so), but the fun is just beginning!

Chatuge Dam & Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge sunrise

Chatuge Dam and Lake Chatuge – one of the great natural treasures here in our little corner of the mountains!  Ever wonder where all that water came from that sits gently lapping against the lakeshore at the foot of Lake Chatuge Dam?  Or how much water this huge earthen dam actually contains?  Built in 1941, Chatuge Dam holds back the incredible 7,000-acre Lake Chatuge, which straddles the North Carolina-Georgia state line here in the Hiawassee River valley. And that 7,000-acre lake is one of the great outdoor treasures that Hayesville and Clay County has to offer visitors of all ages.  But first a little history…

Chatuge Dam is named for an 18th-century Cherokee village once situated near the site, and the name is believed to mean “the meeting of the waters”.  Authorized in 1941 in response to the increasing demand for electricity during WWII, the dam’s hydroelectric potential, combined with the expected benefits of flood control, did not come without cost to the local population of Hayesville, particularly in the Shooting Creek community.  Construction of the dam required the purchase of over 11,000 acres of land and displaced almost 300 families, many of whom had roots in the area going back more than a century.  Family graves had to be relocated as well as over 40 miles of roads, including portions of Highway 64, a major thoroughfare for thousands of people who lived in the tri-county area.

The dam on Lake Chatuge earth-and-rock dam now provides unlimited opportunities to residents and visitors to get outside and play.  Several marinas are located around the lake where everything from small [powerboats and pontoon boats to paddleboards and kayaks can be rented.  If you’re hauling your own boat, you’ll find a half-dozen uncrowded launch ramps with a 15-minute drive.  Lake Chatuge is home to several professional and collegiate fishing tournaments each year, with lucky winners hauling in record-sized bass.  At the north end of Lake Chatuge, the dam is home to a 4+ mile round-trip paved walking path, a favorite of runners, families and folks just out for a stroll in some of the most beautiful mountain scenery to be found anywhere.  Playgrounds, picnic areas and swimming beaches offer families a great way to enjoy a day at the lake.  Hikers and bikers can hit the trails at the Jackrabbit Recreation area and enjoy miles of trails that follow the lakeshore and offer stunning views of the nearby mountains.

Come discover this uncrowded natural gem that anchors so many great outdoor opportunities for folks of all ages here in our little corner of the mountains.

Boundary Waters Marina

Big Ol’ Fish Guides

Jackrabbit Recreation Area – Hiking Trails

 

 

All Aboard Scenic Railroad

railroad locomotive

All Aboard!  The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Railway is not just for train buffs!  Be sure to put this one-of-a-kind train ride on your bucket list for your mountain vacation. Families of all ages will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on this restored old-fashioned railroad. The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Railroad offers scenic train excursions through the mountains along Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across beautiful valleys, cruising through deep gorges and chugging through tunnels carved right out of the mountains.  Board the train at the depot in downtown Bryson City and enjoy a variety of trips and even special-event trains like the Peanuts Great Pumpkin Patch Express in the Fall and the Polar Express, certain to create lasting holiday memories for children and grown-ups alike. 

“Through the dark night chasing the morning light,
That headlight streaming white through the night” 
― Richard L. Ratliff

The magical story of the Polar Express comes to life as you depart Bryson City for an imaginary journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express. A beautiful display of holiday lights and decorations welcome you to the Christmas season here in the mountains. Imagine listening to the story of the magical Polar Express, sipping on steaming hot chocolate while the mountains rush by just feet away. When the train arrives at the North Pole, Santa Claus and his reindeer will be waiting to greet kids of all ages. Sing along to the carols and take in the magic of the moment.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains in the Fall, take a ride on the Great Pumpkin Patch Express (select dates in October). Put on your costume and enjoy hayrides, storytelling, face-painting and trick-or-treating. Plus you’ll get to meet Snoopy, Charlie Brown & Lucy and even select your own pumpkin.


Are you a movie buff?  Read on…

The famous train wreck scene in the 1993 blockbuster movie The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was filmed right here in Dillsboro along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The wreckage set can still be viewed on eastbound Tuckasegee River Excursions departing from Bryson City. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was also used in the filming of 1996 comedy My Fellow Americans starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner when they stumble on to a charter train full of UNC-Chapel Hill fans headed for the NCAA Final Four. And train scenes in the 1999 film Forces of Nature starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock were also filmed on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. And for the train buffs—the railroad’s “2-8-0” steam locomotive #1702 (formerly of the U.S. Army) was featured in the 1966 film, “This Property is Condemned,” starring Natalie Wood, Robert Redford, and Charles Bronson. 

railroad locomotive
scenic railroad close-up

“Through the dark night chasing the morning light,
That headlight streaming white through the night” 
― Richard L. Ratliff

Tail Of The Dragon

Man on motorcyle

Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap – Are You Brave Enough?

Tail of the Dragon is the ultimate in mountain driving experiences.  Starting at Deals Gap, the road follows the mountain pass along the NC-Tenn border.  Not for the faint of heart, the road boasts 311 curves in just 11 short miles with no intersecting roads – not even a driveway –  to slow you down.  Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, it offers chills and thrills in a drop-dead beautiful mountain setting.  Riding the “Dragon” is at the top of the bucket list for motorcycle and sports car fans across the country.  With plenty of curves with names like Wheelie Hell, Brake or Bust Bend and Gravity Cavity, the Tail of the Dragon is guaranteed to be the ride of your life.  Are YOU brave enough?

“You don’t stop riding when you get old, you get old when you stop riding.”
― Anonymous


“Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.”
― Anonymous

Tank Town USA-Drive Tanks, Crush Cars

Tank crush car

Ever wanted to drive a tank?  Ever feel like smashing into a car that’s wreaking havoc in rush-hour traffic?  When the peace of the forest and the tranquility of the mountains still haven’t reduced your stress levels and calmed your jangled nerves, there’s one more option you can try.  Now you can do both, right here at TankTownUSA.  Here’s what Roadside America had to say: “When I opened, I thought people would say, ‘Oh, this was pretty cool,'” said Todd Liebross, Tank Town’s owner. “Instead it’s been, ‘This was the most awesome thing I’ve ever done in my life!'”  Todd grinned. “People like driving tanks.”  Indeed they do.  

TankTownUSA                                                                                                      Morganton GA (706-633-6072)