Recently the Asheville Visitor’s Center put out a call for packages highlighting outdoor activities off the Blue Ridge Parkway (and by extension Western North Carolina). Here at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast that pushed all our buttons as James and I are active hikers. Part of the appeal of this mountain town is the ability to be out and on a trail in an hour or less. We often give guests guidance and suggestions including trail maps and loaning them equipment as a part of our services at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast.
Last year Katie Moore of The Cheese Store of Asheville and I played around with some picnic ideas for hikers, so she was the first person I thought of when working up a package for our guests. It turned out she had already created some picnics so James and I tried them out. They were delicious with an interesting range of cheeses, fruits, nuts and condiments. We added a sandwich (Brie and Mission Fig!) and it was an ample lunch for a hungry hiker. I decided that we would include some homemade cookies and drinks from the inn to round it out.
Then we thought it would be nice to add a touch of pampering to our package. James and I have found that balancing the rigors of overnight camping with a stay at a luxury resort makes both of us happy. So I went up to the Grove Arcade to visit Wake: The Foot Sanctuary and Shop. What could be better after a long day hiking than sinking into a soft couch and soaking your feet while sipping on a lovely cup of tea? So we popped that into our hiking package as well.
All that thinking about hiking, coupled with this never-ending winter got us into the mood for a hike! So off we went to Cataloochee. I had previously been to the valley once before with my daughter Sarah but we did not have much opportunity to explore much beyond a few of the abandoned structures in the village. But the beauty of the location stayed with me so James and I headed off to try a hike there. The first thing you should know is that the drive is challenging. Much of it is a hard dirt road, quite narrow with almost no shoulder, which winds its way by switchback over the mountains and down into the wide valley below. In 1910 Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee was the home of over 1200 people, the largest community in the Smoky Mountains. Its inhabitants were mostly farmers, there was a small school, a post-office and a couple of churches. In 1938 it became a National Park and the homes and few other structures were abandoned. In 2001 a herd of elk were introduced to the valley in an attempt to restore the indigenous wildlife. Today it is an isolated and peaceful valley with well-maintained trails and camp grounds.
We couldn’t do the original trail we set out to do, the bridge was out. But the trails are well marked so we opted for an out-and-back to Little Cataloochee. In spite of the snow on the ground at the higher elevations, it was a warm and lovely day. We picnicked at Cook Cabin before heading back. Truly the only thing that would stop us from recommending this hike to everyone is the road getting there!
For more information about our package please visit the Specials Page of our website or call 828-254-3608