A Couple Of Things To Do In The Foothills

Rutherford County

Rutherford County North Carolina is an accessible destination to get to from about anywhere in the state, and even easier to fall in love with. A divers nest of communities in the foothills below Hendersonville & Asheville and West of Charlotte where outdoor activities, food, art, history, and festivals welcome you year around.

We wanted to learn as much as we could about the area, so we chose a central location for our home base. A Hideaway Cabin at Transitions was more than a place to stay, it was our home in the foothills.  Lynn Brown, the owner, hostess and head trainer for Transitions, was the most enthusiastic ambassador for the area we could wish for, letting us in on all the boutique destinations and activities in the area. 

The cabin is located on 80 acres of woods for guest to enjoy. So bring your dog, bring your horse, bring your family, or do as we did and make it a royal retreat just for two. Trails all over the property are inviting for walking, horseback riding or mountain biking. It’s a great place to explore, the cabin is part of Fox Haven Plantation settled in 1775. Being such a historical site, you’ll never know what you may discover walking the trails. 

Rutherford County
Rutherford County – Transitions

We quickly settled in upon arrival, stoked the fire and headed out the door to Chimney Rock, Lynn made reservations for us at the Esmeralda Inn, Restaurant & Spa. The Inn has been serving the community since 1892. Taking care of notable guests such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable right up to the cast and crew of  Last of the Mohicans, Firestarter and most notably Dirty Dancing. 

The building was redone from the ground up in 1997. The lodge, rooms, and restaurant are fresh and modern while retaining the original character of the historic inn.  The dining room has a great modern rustic feel to it.  Farm to fork when practical and a menu that is driven by what is available. An excellent spot for two or twenty people.

Other communities in the area include Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forrest City, and Bostic. We had so many things to choose from, it did not take long to realize we could easily spend a week here and still not cover it all. So we gave it a good try by going into Rutherfordton and checking out the Bechtler House Heritage Center. Did you know Rutherford County played an integral role in the NC Gold Rush and was a hot spot for mining activity during the early 1800s? Christopher Bechtler minted the first one-dollar gold coin in 1832, approximately 17 years before the U.S. Mint made one of their own.  Charlotte can thank Bostic for its banking heritage!

Just down the road is a brewing company known for its beer and pizza. Yellow Sun Brewing is a little gem in this area built on gold. Hours are limited here, so find out when you can make it out to enjoy the Yellow Sun Beer and pair it with a craft pizza. I hear this week the loaded potato pizza is on the menu. 

If you want to walk, ride or paddle off your tasty treats, several walking and bike trails are connecting the communities. But that’s a story for another day. 

We decided to head back to Chimney Rock State Park and climb Chimney Rock. To be honest, only one of us climbed to the top, and one of us took the elevator. I never knew that the park has so much to do. (or had such a nice elevator) Hiking trails for all levels of enthusiasm, 75-mile views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure & the Carolina Piedmont, and even a Café at the top of the chimney. What I really thought was great is all the picknick sites you can stop at and just hang out for the day.

When you decide that you’ve earned a reward for all your effort on the trails just make a left at the gate and a few hundred yards up the road, you’ll see Burntshirt Vineyards Tasting Room & Bistro on your right and Hickory Nut Gorge Brewing on your left. Enjoy my friends.

Rutherford County
Rumbling Bald Resort

After a day at the “rock,” we were “lured” down the hill and around the lake to a resort on the north shore of Lake Lure. Rumbling Bald Resort is a resort community featuring several restaurants, water activities, two golf courses, a spa, lodging, year-round living, and vacation homes. Very much a country club experience in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Because we were staying at Transitions, we were able to take advantage of the private guest rides offered. So, we stayed one more day than we planned. The experience is more than just a trail ride, it’s a horse human partnership. It is a learning experience no matter what your level of comfort and knowledge of horsemanship is. 

Rutherford County
Jesse James Railroad Express

After our last tranquil night at the cabin, we left early in the morning so we would not miss to much work and came across a diner like no other. It’s a tiny brick building along the Thermal Belt Rail-Trail. Just a stone’s throw from the city limit of Ruth (pop 440) sits Jesse James Railroad Express. A one-man culinary gold mine. The menu and the preparation of every item are worthy of some sort of Food Channel cook-off. Coffee to satisfy the most particular bean connoisseur. Traditional southern dishes cooked to perfection and breakfast gone wild dishes like waffle sandwiches, doughnut burgers,  grilled Hershey and peanut butter sandwich or an ice cream stuffed donut. Jessee is only open for breakfast and lunch with inside seating for 16, but plenty of room outside on the picknick tables. And please don’t forget to grab a peanut butter and jelly shake for the ride home. 

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