Celebrate 100 years of NC State Parks in the place where it all began.
This summer, North Carolina celebrates 100 years of NC State Parks with events across the state—from Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks to Grandfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains. What better way to honor the anniversary, though, than to return to the place where it all began—on the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains. Established in 1915 in an effort to save the Black Mountain region from excessive logging and destruction, Mount Mitchell was named North Carolina’s first state park.
To get there, it’s a beautiful 33-mile drive north of Asheville, along the Frasier fir-lined Blue Ridge Parkway. Upon arrival, you’ll find endless hours of exploration and relaxation, including miles of breathtaking hiking trails, scenic camping areas, bountiful Southern Appalachian wildlife, and a 6,684-foot view from the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
On the outskirts of Pisgah National Forest, where Mount Mitchell resides, there’s a cozy 12-room bed and breakfast nestled among the forest-covered peaks. The charming cedar-and-stone Sourwood Inn is peaceful, with few distractions other than the sound of birds and the sway of trees. Each room is dressed with rustic yet thoughtful décor: heirloom rugs, Americana-inspired furnishings, and inviting soaking tubs that overlook the treetops and wildflowers below. Every morning, day breaks with the smell of freshly baked frittata or innkeeper Susan Curtis’ famed French toast with blueberry compote, fuel for a day of adventure.
The inn is surrounded by hiking options such as Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, and Rattlesnake Lodge—all within 45 minutes of the property. There are multiple inn packages to choose from, all of which include two nights of accommodations plus an excursion. Options range from fly fishing to horseback riding, falconry to wild food foraging. The latter is led by local tour company No Taste Like Home, which brings foragers into the heart of the Southern Appalachians to forage from over 300 wild edibles. The tours are led by expert guides at different natural areas around Asheville and common finds include wild lettuce varieties, reishi and turkey tail mushrooms, daylily shoots, ramps, and a slew of other wild foods that thrive in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
After a day in the woods, foragers can take their finds to select Asheville restaurants for preparation. Several farm-to-table locations— including the long-established Market Place as well as the newly opened Local Provisions—will use your “catch of the day” to make a gourmet appetizer. On a recent visit, the chef at Local Provisions pieced together a creative dish of fried daylily, cooked sochane leaf, raw chickweed, and wood sorrel in a sourwood leaf and locust bean broth.
If you find it hard to leave the inn after a day of foraging, hiking, or brewery hopping in downtown Asheville, spend your evening dining by the fire with locally sourced dishes prepared by Sourwood Inn’s executive chef, Kacia Stuart. Her weekend-only supper menu changes daily as she prepares regionally inspired options. From pan-fried Sunburst trout from nearby Waynesville to flavorful produce from farmers just up the road, each meal is simple, thoughtfully executed, and thoroughly memorable. Just what you’ll need after a trip to the summit.
Sourwood Inn Wild Food Foraging Package Includes:
2 nights lodging
3 hour venture with No Taste Like Home (mostly on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Includes a signed copy of “Wild Mushrooms: A Taste of Enchantment”
Save the date – Friday, August 26
Ascent of the Century:
Celebrate 100 years of North Carolina State Parks with a 4,000-foot, 6-mile ascent to the summit of Mount Mitchell for music, food, history, and more. For more information on events, visit www.ncparks.gov/100/centennial-events
Plan your own trip to celebrate 100 years of North Carolina State Parks by visiting ExploreAsheville.com.