Autumn Adventures Abound in Hendersonville, NC

image

SAM DEAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Hendersonville, North Carolina, has long been a place of escape. The Blue Ridge Mountain town boasts a temperate climate and abundant forests, streams and scenic vistas that allow visitors to disconnect from daily worries and reconnect with nature.

Located in Western North Carolina, Hendersonville sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. The surrounding peaks make a beautiful backdrop for sunrises and sunsets, and hundreds of acres of old-growth forest provide a natural playground. While Hendersonville offers year-round appeal, fall is a particularly nice time to visit. The famed Blue Ridge Parkway curves within just a few miles of Hendersonville, and the county’s abundant countryside provides back-road routes to see changing leaves. Make your way to one of the many apple orchards for a true taste of autumn.

While most attractions have reopened with enhanced safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors are encouraged to call ahead before traveling to a specific destination.

Waterfalls Worthy of a Close-Up

DuPont State Recreational Forest contains more than 10,000 pristine acres. Approximately 90 miles of trails encourage hiking, biking and horseback riding. Some of the forest’s most popular attractions are waterfalls along Little River and Grassy Creek. Hooker Falls is the most accessible via a short hike from the parking area. Hikers who journey farther upstream are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of Triple Falls and High Falls. Film crews from “The Last of the Mohicans” and “The Hunger Games” shot scenes at DuPont Forest. Because DuPont is experiencing higher than normal visitation during the pandemic, guests are encouraged to visit at off-peak times, such as early mornings and weekdays.

Holmes Educational State Forest operates as a living classroom. The forest started as a nursery developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s to supply landowners with white pine and yellow poplar seedlings. Today the forest contains five miles of hiking trails, including the “talking trees” trail that informs hikers about different species and their uses.

For the truly adventurous, The Gorge Zipline is the steepest and fastest zipline experience in the country. The course descends more than 1,100 feet into the Green River Gorge via 11 ziplines, three rappels and a 95-foot sky bridge. The surrounding forest is home to huge poplars, oaks, cucumber magnolias and maples, many of them more than 175 years old. Views from The Gorge course overlook 18,000 protected acres of Green River Gamelands.

Jump Off Rock, only five miles from downtown Hendersonville, climbs to 3,100 feet in elevation. The rock gets its name from a Native American legend about a maiden who threw herself from the rock after finding out that the warrior she loved was killed in battle. Three short trails offer an easy to moderate hike, and the park area is ideal for picnics. Visitors who come at sunset see one of the prettiest sights in the region as the sun sinks behind the mountains.

An Apple a Day

Autumn means apples in Hendersonville. Henderson County leads North Carolina in apple production and consistently ranks among the nation’s top producers. For years orchards operated on a wholesale model, selling apples for sauce, juice and supermarket shelves. While those markets remain important, many orchards have embraced agritourism, welcoming visitors into the fields to pick their own fruit. Crunching into a fresh apple pulled straight off the limb, juice dripping down your chin, is a special experience you won’t soon forget.

The Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail outlines 21 orchards, roadside stands and markets throughout Henderson County. The self-guided trail encourages visitors to create their own apple-country itineraries. Brochures are available online at www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or at the Visitor Center in downtown Hendersonville.

The orchards, many run by third- and fourth-generation farmers, grow more than 20 different varieties of apples. Each variety has its own ripening timeline. Honey crisp and McIntosh are some of the early birds, while Rome and pink lady come later. Apple season runs from August through October.

With hundreds of acres of orchards and abundant fresh air, apple picking is a safe way for families to get out and make memories this fall. In a year when many of our rituals and traditions have been upended by the global pandemic, we find comfort in the continuity of nature’s seasons and the pleasure of simple pastimes.

In addition to apple picking, many farms offer other activities. Families can wander through a corn maze, find their favorite pumpkin in the patch, take a hayride through the trees, feed barnyard animals and even shoot an apple cannon. On-site bakeries produce tasty confections and fresh-pressed cider. That cider goes into delectable doughnuts covered in cinnamon and sugar. Taking a moment to enjoy a doughnut hot from the fryer while looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains is a delightful way to welcome a new season.

To plan your fall trip to Hendersonville, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.

Search

Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.