Low-Key Mountain Charm
Hendersonville and surrounds pair uptown culture with outdoor adventureBy Renee C. Gannon
Offering a slower pace than its northern neighbor Asheville, Hendersonville and the surrounding area provide a mixture of small town life, outdoor adventure, uptown culture and locally brewed spirits, as well as that fresh, cool mountain air.
Main Street’s focal point is the gold-domed Henderson County Courthouse. Turn left or right to step into art galleries, shops, locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, a mineral museum, and even an ocean center and aquarium. Historic Hendersonville is still alive as well, with Coca-Cola murals adorning brick buildings and the Hendersonville Curb Market, where locals have sold arts and crafts, flowers, produce and even cows and chickens since the 1920s. “Locally made, locally grown” remains the market’s motto amongst the multi-generation vendors.
Hendersonville also serves as a good jumping point for adventure throughout the county, from trails and waterfalls, touring local craft breweries and wineries to learning about turning locally grown apples into hard cider.
Apples & Libations
Henderson County continues to lead the state in apple production (the seventh-largest apple-producing county in the U.S.), and recently became a leader in hard apple cider production. The county’s cideries are part of the local Cheers! Trail, which also features five breweries and two local wineries including nationally known Sierra Nevada Brewing, located in Mills River.
Bold Rock Hard Cider, Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders and Flat Rock Ciderworks rely on the local apple growers to supply varieties perfect for sweet and refreshing libations.
Many of the 25 apple farms in the county also offer U-Pick orchards. At Sky Top Orchards, 25 varieties are grown on 60 acres of rolling land. Opening day for the orchard is in early August, and owners David and Lindsey Butler offer a place to roam, pick apples, learn how to cook with apples and even enjoy an apple doughnut.
Back to Nature
Mountain scenery is everywhere you turn. Jump Off Rock, a granite rock located in Laurel Park just outside of Hendersonville, features a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge and Pisgah Mountains. On a clear day, the view includes four states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Hikes and waterfalls are found at DuPont State Recreational Forest, located between Hendersonville and Brevard. Best known recently as a filming location for the Hunger Games movies, it offers 80-plus trails, four waterfalls and five lakes within 10,000 acres of forest, as well as access to the Little River and Grassy Creek. The most popular hike provides passage to three waterfalls: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls. Other trails lead to well-known Bridal Veil Falls.
Just across the county line in Saluda you’ll find The Gorge, which boasts the fastest and steepest zipline canopy tour in the country. The automatic braking tour consists of 11 ziplines, covering 1.25 miles and descending 1,100 vertical feet into the old growth forest surrounding the Green River Game Lands. Zippers can expect to “fly” at an average of 35 miles per hour. And the view from the tree-top platforms is worth the nervous exhilaration.
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