Day Tripper: Falling for Brevard
By Gina Malone | Photos courtesy of Transylvania Tourism
Sometimes a day trip is all it takes to soothe both mind and body. Winding mountain roads. The beauty of a waterfall. Cool museums. Retail therapy. Great food. Craft brews. If any or all of the above seem like the makings of a great getaway, then Brevard is the place to go.
Nestled among Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Gorges State Park, it’s no wonder Transylvania County calls itself “Land of Waterfalls.” Visitors will discover adventures galore!—so many, in fact, that day trippers may have a hard time deciding what to do first.
Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails traverse the area. The Estatoe Trail, winding along the Davidson River, is a shady walk or ride for young and old.
If driving is more your speed, the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway is a 79-mile loop along mountain roads, passing by Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. Along the way, the Cradle of Forestry—site of the country’s first forestry school—offers tours and programs for all ages.
A stop in Rosman, where the French Broad River begins, is a must for water adventurers. Headwaters Outfitters offers fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing, and features the Forks of the River Taproom. Nearby waterfalls include the scenic Mill Shoals and French Broad Falls, both great photo ops or picnic spots.
Before the Byway loops back to Brevard, don’t miss the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). This one-time NASA facility, now a nonprofit research center, has hands-on displays and exhibits, including rare minerals, meteorites and space shuttle artifacts. Nighttime observations are scheduled monthly. Daytime views from the Park Observation Deck are stunning. Hiking trails, picnic tables and children’s activities complete this museum adventure.
Downtown Brevard is the county’s cultural hub with Fourth Friday Gallery Walks held April through December.
The Lumberyard Arts District stands just blocks from the central business district. Surrounding the renovated 1908 Brevard Lumber Company—a performing arts venue—are The Haen Gallery, shops, restaurants and music venues. An eye-catching mural on the historic lumber building says you’re in the right place.
Downtown art destinations, including Red Wolf Gallery, cluster mostly along Main and Broad streets. “What we especially like about the collection of galleries in Brevard is that each has a focus,” says Laura Gossage, who, along with Keith Dragt, owns Trade-Arama Folk Art & Antiques. “Be it artist-owned, local cooperative, pottery studio, print shop or folk art collection, every gallery has a different feel.”
Many gift shops, like Local Color and The Cherry Tree, offer unique furnishings and functional art.
Brevard provides sanctuary—and an annual festival—for the rare white squirrel, found more commonly here than anywhere in the country. Decorative squirrels perch atop traffic lights, climb trees outside O.P. Taylor’s Toy Store and await purchase at The White Squirrel Shoppe. With luck, you may even spot a real one scampering about.
“We love our white squirrels,” says Clark Lovelace, executive director of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce. “While a few other spots claim these furry friends, we consider ourselves ‘white squirrel central’ with an estimated 2,000.” Pisgah Pete, a rescued squirrel, turns “weather prognosticator” on February 2, Lovelace adds. An “adoption” program funds the local White Squirrel Institute.
When rock climbing or strolling takes its toll, there are plenty of places to refuel. Nostalgic eateries like Mayberry’s offer casual options, while Hobnob Restaurant promises “big city dining.” Sweet treats (Kiwi Gelato) and coffee (Bracken Mountain Bakery) are never far from wherever downtown rambling takes you.
Brevard Brewing Company, Ecusta Brewing Company and Oskar Blues Brewery all call Brevard home. During gallery walks many businesses, including Broad Street Wines, offer tastings.
The only downside? There is so much to do in Brevard that you’ll have to plan more day trips to get it all in!
Brevard’s October Events
Forest Festival Day and Woodmen’s Meet
Oct. 7-29 (Fridays and Saturdays)
“Revenge of the White Squirrels” and Lighted Pumpkin Patch Trails
Silvermont Park – 828.885.7286
Tour de Falls
DuPont State Forest
Evening at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)
White Squirrel Cycling Classic
Outdoor Drama “The Legend of Tommy Hodges”
Oct. 28-Nov. 4
Friday Gallery Walk