The Blue Ridge Mountains that span across North Carolina are a playground for the adventurous, especially those that enjoy winter sports. But there’s more than simply skiing and snowboarding to be found in this lush region. Be sure to explore the vibrant changing leaves and stunning mountain trails for yourself.
Take a drive to Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, and stay at Fairway Forest Resort for a relaxing autumn mountain retreat. With amenities including well-equipped kitchens and in-room washer/dryers, you can take a scenic getaway while keeping still some of the comforts of home.
Here are six ways you can get your nature fix during your next North Carolina vacation.
1. Bring Your Bike on a Ski Lift
Many of the ski slopes in this area turn into downhill biking trails during the rest of the year. In some places, it’s common practice to bring your bike on the lifts, which are typically reserved for skiers and snowboarders during the snowy season but remain running for just such an occasion during the fall.
Beech Mountain is one of the places where the steep inclines become filled with adventurous bikers. Panthertown Valley near Cashiers also offers 19 miles of mountain biking trails for all expertise levels.
2. Spend a Day Down By the River
Visitors can go fishing year-round in the clear waters of the area’s lakes and rivers. Fly-fishing for trout, in particular, is popular around Cashiers. Guides offer excursions and gear rentals for fishing trips along the Tuckasegee and Davidson rivers.
Nearby Lake Toxaway has more than 700 acres for fishing, and its waters are home to prizes like largemouth bass, rainbow trout and catfish. Fishing licenses are available online and through local outfitters. You can also go swimming and rent a boat or kayak to explore the local waterways on your own.
There are dozens of rafting experiences in Western North Carolina, whether you’re looking for thrilling rapids or laid-back floating. Nantahala Outdoors Center is one of the most popular places to go for both types of experiences on the namesake river — and for those who prefer to stay landlocked, the outfitter also offers ziplining tours.
3. Get Your Waterfall Fix on Foot
Western North Carolina is blessed with dozens of waterfalls that are reachable by hikes of varying lengths. Dry Falls is a 75-foot waterfall near Highlands with an overhanging bluff that is easily accessible via a paved trail from the road. (You can even walk underneath it!)
Bridal Veil Falls is another nearby site that you can drive up to. Some days, it’s little more than a small trickle — but it can be impressive after heavy rain. Quarry Falls is a 20-foot waterfall often referred to as “Sliding Rock,” as you’ll need to watch your step on the slippery terrain.
4. Hit the Fairway
Looking for a way to unwind during your mountain getaway? Fairway Forest Resort has an on-site golf course, among many other activities and amenities to entertain all ages. You can also tee off at public courses in the area, like Franklin Golf Course and Mountain Harbour Golf Club in Hayesville.
Bring your own clubs from home or rent on-site. And while you’re hitting the links, soak up the mountain views as they shift from green to gold.
5. Grab Some Local Grub
You’re never far from a good meal in Western North Carolina. In Franklin, enjoy authentic barbecue favorites at Haywood Smokehouse or sit for a locally-sourced lunch at ROOT + BARREL Kitchen, brimming with harvest flavors. Then, order some local farm-to-table fall produce and goods from the Yonder Farmers Market. (Fresh apple cider anyone?)
Highlands also serves up delightful delicacies like the Asian fusion at Wild Thyme Gourmet, superb pizza at Mountain Fresh Grocery and fine-dining cuisine at Wolfgang’s. In Cashiers, don’t miss Winslow’s Hideaway for steak and seafood. On the Side Barbeque is another must-visit for carnivores in search of some good old-fashioned comfort food.
6. Browse Local Wares
Leave plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs, as several artisanal and commercial shops line the streets of the surrounding towns. Browse the downtown shops in Highlands, Cashiers and Franklin for everything from clothing to gourmet goods to rustic furnishings. Local boutique Robin’s Nest has a variety of clothing, jewelry and home décor so you can bring a little bit of North Carolina home.
Fairway Forest Resort by Diamond Resorts might just be the perfect distance to get you back in the vacation mindset while keeping some of the comforts of home. No matter how you spend your days in Sapphire Valley, you’re sure to want to return again and again.
Diamond Resorts International Marketing, Inc., its parents, sister companies, and subsidiaries, make no warranty, express or implied, as to the condition, capacity, performance or any other aspect of the activities, events, or service providers listed herein. No inquiry has been made into the activities or events, or the qualifications or the quality of services offered by the providers. Do not consider this an endorsement of or recommendation for any of the activities, events, or providers.