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40 Reasons We Love the Blue Ridge Region

Our readers and editors contributed to this list of reasons why we love the Southern Mountain region. Why do you? Email us at info@blueridgecountry.com, or post to our Facebook page and we’ll share some of your views in a future issue.

1. Music: High Lonesome and Down-Home

It’s the sound of the mountains, more than anything else – music here reflects the high lonesome of the peaks and the joy of the valleys, in the keen of the ballad singers, the lilt of the old shape-note hymns, the sweet violin and the energy of the banjo. These mountains have inspired the likes of Kathy Mattea, Doc Watson and Dolly Parton – and they also inspire the folks who gather in the local general store or coffee shop or campground once a week to jam and listen. Concerts set off the sunset at Fisher’s Peak Music Center each summer, and stages from FloydFest to the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention are host to bluegrass and old-time and country.

2. Shared Journeys

There’s romance in a road, and famous roads run north to south along these mountains, serving as gateways to mountain towns and hiking trails and campgrounds, and as destinations in themselves. The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles in Virginia and North Carolina. More than 1,000 miles of the legendary Appalachian Trail run through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia, and hundreds of loop hikes can connect to the National Scenic Trail. U.S. 11 also runs through the region, paralleling the newer and faster interstate system; it’s Main Street for many towns, and hosts the giant U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, held each May along the road’s southern miles.

3. Romantic Weekends

A romantic weekend might translate as a cozy Victorian inn or a rustic log cabin or a tent in the middle of the woods – a long hike, a proposal by a waterfall, a dinner with candlelight. The Blue Ridge’s romantic spots are beautiful in quieter ways than their counterparts in the legendary romantic destinations of the world. The Blue Ridge Parkway alone is chock-full of proposal spots – charming Mabry Mill, or serene Abbott Lake or Price Lake, miles of hiking trails to summits and viewpoints, sunsets and sunrises on overlooks – or head off the road into our own City of Light – Asheville, N.C., nicknamed the “Paris of the South” – no need to fly to the one in France.

4. Country Hardball

The American pastime is alive and well on red-dirt Minor League Baseball diamonds dotting the landscape from Maryland to Alabama – teams with names like the West Virginia Power, the Lynchburg Hillcats, the Tennessee Smokies and the Asheville Tourists play ball through the warm months on fields like LewisGale Field, home of the Salem Red Sox, where the sun sets over the mountains beyond and the lights come on over the crowds.

5.“You’re never lost or alone.”

Everyone’s just so nice. Need directions? A suggestion for a good place to eat or listen to bluegrass on a Saturday night? Just ask. As our editor in chief Kurt Rheinheimer puts it, “people just want to say hi, ask how you’re doin’ and find out if you think it’s going to stay hot for the next couple of days.”

6. Artists and Writers, Constantly Inspired and Creating

All this beauty inspires artists in every form: potters, painters, sculptors, photographers, writers – many make their homes in these mountains, and others come to spend time at schools, learning modern and traditional crafts. Small towns throughout the region are supporting vibrant arts communities, with galleries, studios and museums, including Berea, Ky.;  Brevard and Asheville, N.C. area (home to the Folk Art Center and the Allanstand Craft Shop); places such as Heartwood and Floyd and Abingdon in southwest Virginia.

7. Sunsets

Seems everyone has a favorite sunset spot. For college students and locals in the Shenandoah Valley around Harrisonburg and Dayton, Va., it’s Reddish Knob, a high peak that once had a fire tower, a long drive out past Mennonite farms and up and up until you’re looking into the ridges of West Virginia. That’s where the sun goes down and the stars come out, and then if you turn around you’ll catch some beautiful…

8. Moonrises

…over the distant city. On a full-moon night, that golden harvest orb rises over country and city alike, floating like a lamp in the sky. Get out of town to the woods, and the moon fills the hillsides with silver, shines off the silos and tin farmhouse roofs.

9. Long Walks (including long hikes)

Our national, state and regional parks are all wound about with trails for all levels and ages. One in four of thousands of hikers make it through the Appalachian Trail’s 2,180 miles every year, but there are countless shorter walks from afternoon strolls to overnight backpacking trips. Well-loved places like Cascades and Roaring Run in Virginia have picnic areas for meals. Other favorite places: Mt. Mitchell, Max Patch and Chimney Rock in North Carolina and Amicalola Falls in Georgia.

10. Spring

The dogwoods, the forsythia, the redbuds, the apple trees, the lilacs... the slopes of the mountains are laced with lavender and white and pink as these trees and shrubs bloom for what seems like a moment, filling the air with sweet aromas and the soft buzzing of honeybees.



 

Featured Blue Ridge Videos

Hannah Harvey: Telling Tales of Coalminers, Gaelic Fairies and More. (Click to Read More.)

Riding The Wind at Lookout Mountain. (Click to Read More.)