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Explore the Serene Swannanoa River Valley in Asheville

Swannanoa River Valley Asheville

To the east of Asheville, stretching out between the mountains of Asheville and Black Mountain, lies the gorgeous Swannanoa River Valley. Through it winds the Swannanoa River, flowing west from its headwaters in Black Mountain and the slopes of Mount Mitchell to eventually become a major tributary of the French Broad River in Biltmore Village.  Though it is just outside the small city of Asheville, this valley has a peaceful, rural feel and a growing hub in downtown Swannanoa.  

History of the Swannanoa River Valley

Warren Wilson CollegeFor nearly 12,000 years, the Swannanoa Valley has been inhabited.  The Cherokee Native Americans hunted along the banks of the river for thousands of years.  By the late 1700s, European settlers began to make permanent settlements.  Subsistence farmers scraped together a difficult mountain lifestyle throughout the next hundred years.  

Sweeping changes came to the valley in 1879 with the arrival of the railroad to Western North Carolina.  Logging and development of major religious retreats such as Montreat changed the landscape of the valley greatly.  In the 1920s, E.W. Grove, developer of the Grove Park Inn, built Lake Eden near Black Mountain which was to have a country club built around it.  He passed away before the project was completed, but it became the site of Black Mountain College in 1940, and many of Grove’s original buildings are still in use today.

Farmland and manufacturing played important roles in this area in the past century, but these are diminishing presences today, and many of the residents in the valley now commute to Asheville for work.

Hiking along the Swannanoa River

Warren Wilson Trails AshevilleWarren Wilson College, located in the heart of the valley, is a nationally renowned liberal arts college with an emphasis on work and service.  Many Warren Wilson graduates have become successful entrepreneurs in the Asheville area.  They also host several wonderful farmer's markets throughout the year.

The college has been kind enough to welcome the public to enjoy some of its many beautiful and well-maintained hiking trails.  They are a short 15 minute drive from Asheville and feature both easy hiking trails with entry points along the river and trails with significant elevation gain.  A map of the trail system may be found here.

On the Western end of the valley, the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses highway 70. The Mountains to Sea Trail runs along the Parkway here, providing another easily accessible hiking experience.  You can also check out the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center and Folk Art Center after your hike.

Activities in the Swannanoa River Valley

Beer Tasting PisgahSwannanoa Valley Museum and History Center is a fantastic resource for Buncombe County history.  It is open seasonally but events continue year round.  The museum is located on West State Street in Black Mountain in a building built in 1921 by famous architect Richard Sharp Smith.  Find history tidbits there and join in their hiking programs with gorgeous vistas and invaluable historical information.

Pisgah Brewing Company is an organic microbrewery located in the heart of the valley.  It has a large outdoor stage and field, perfect for hearing music with children.  Music and beer appreciators bring blankets and chairs for a festival-style listening experience in warm weather.  Enjoy the indoor stage and tasting room in cooler weather.  This venue not only has some of the best microbrews in the region, they also draw nationally touring bands.

Just off of 70, near the old Beacon Mill Village homes of the 1920s, is a downtown area of Swannanoa that is ripe for revitalization.  The Native Kitchen and Social Club are two local businesses that have started to pick up steam in the area and become community hubs.  The Root Bar has become a favorite of locals as well.  With the smattering of mom and pops businesses along highway 70, easy access to I-40, and gorgeous natural surroundings, this area is becoming increasingly popular.

For more information on our community or on real estate in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com  or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.

Search: View all homes for sale in Asheville

Sources and Further Reading: Swannanoa Valley Museum

Comments

  1. Adam Donkus on

    I had not been to Asheville since I was a teenager. It does seem to have a lot going on. I may have to schedule a vacation to Asheville.

    Asheville Trails That Aren't a Hike to Get To

    Hikes Near Asheville NC

    Western North Carolina is renowned for world-class hikes to suit all tastes and experience levels. Living in Asheville affords easy day trips to every manner of mountain trail. But what if you just want a quick lunchtime loop or an easy afternoon jaunt without going far? Asheville and the immediate area around it are replete with spontaneous options sure to stimulate the senses and pump the blood. Below, a few favorites.

    NC Arboretum Explorer Loop

    For a nearby hike you can do in just a few hours, head to the North Carolina Arboretum in southwest Asheville, near the banks of the French Broad River. The 4.4-mile loop offers beautifully maintained and gently grade trails that are perfect for young hikers and those looking for a less arduous route. The trail traces the perimeter of the Arboretum, beginning at Hardtimes Road and culminating at the beautiful gardens and sculptures surrounding the Visitor Education Center.

    Destination Center Track Trail

    The Blue Ridge Parkway visitor center at milepost 384 near Asheville offers an easy, 1.4-mile loop trail that starts at the far end of the visitor center parking lot. The trail allows visitors to enjoy the Parkway’s nature without venturing too far from the road, and also connects to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Stop into the center before the hike to get a map, talk to a ranger, pick up some merchandise, learn about other area offerings, watch the park film, and explore Parkway-themed exhibits.

    Bent Creek North Loop

    Bent Creek Experimental Forest AshevilleThis southwest Asheville trail nestled in Bent Creek Experimental Forest offers views of Enka, Candler and Biltmore Lake along its 8-mile loop. The hike starts at Rice Pinnacle Trailhead and runs along Deer Lake Lodge Trail, up the slopes of Little Hickory Top. The payoff of the moderately difficult climb along the trail is reaching Ingles Field Gap and tracing Stradley Ridge to take in long-range views of west Asheville and Enka.

    Haw Creek Valley Overlook

    From the Folk Art Center just east of Asheville to the Haw Creek Overlook runs a 5-mile, out-and-back trail featuring a moderate course overflowing with wildflowers and wild mushrooms in season. The gradually uphill hike follows the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway north from the Folk Art Center at milepost 382 to the mountain just above Haw Creek Valley Overlook, which offers picturesque mountain and valley views. When you’re done hiking, you can stop into the center to view a variety of Appalachian arts and crafts and, in season, enjoy daily craft demonstrations and talk to the craftspeople as they work.

    For a personally guided tour of neighborhoods near local hiking trails, or for more information on real estate anywhere in Asheville, please contact Mike Figura at Mike@MyMosaicRealty.com or call him anytime at (828) 337-8190.