Western North Carolina is quickly becoming the new mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Photo: Brandon Scherzberg
If you want to know which fish pairs well with a pinot noir, go to Napa. But if you want to know which brew to pair with some of the country’s best white-water kayaking, world-class mountain biking or the craziest motorcycle ride of your life, go to Asheville, North Carolina.
“Beer City” has already earned a reputation as the little sister of that other outdoor mecca thanks to its 58-and-counting breweries, passionate organic movement, rollicking live music scene and rabid collective of outdoor enthusiasts.
But the real bait on this city’s hook is the close proximity of some of the wildest rides and jaw-dropping views we’ve ever seen.
Black Balsam Knob offers a rare treeless view of the surrounding mountains. Photo: Brandon Scherzberg
Show them some love on some of the cleanest, hard-packed single track on the East Coast. Choose from hundreds of trails in Pisgah and Dupont forests, or take your mountain bike to Tsali Recreation Area in the Nantahala National Forest, which has 40 miles of trails in a four-loop system, views of Fontana Lake and even a bike shower—all for just $2 (horses and bikers alternate days on each loop, so check the schedule before you hit the trail).
Kayak the four major rivers or the calmer Lake Fontana in North Carolina. Photo: Brandon Scherzberg
Get to Chimney Rock early in the day to avoid a crowded view (there’s an elevator option to reach the top). Photo: Brandon Scherzberg
Spend a few hours getting lost inside the Antique Tobacco Barn , a massive 77,000-square-foot barn with more than 75 antique dealers and off-the-wall vintage furniture and unique finds. Swing by the River Arts District to pop into the studios and galleries of 185 artists working in converted warehouses and industrial buildings along the French Broad River.