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Area Activities
Biltmore Estate Blue Ridge Parkway Green Knob Overlook Green Knob Hiking Trail

"No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied -- it speaks in silence to the very core of your being."
~ Ansel Adams

AREA ACTIVITIES

A stay in western North Carolina has a certain calming effect on the soul, whether you're hiking and biking in the woods of Pisgah National Forest, birding, taking in a leisurely day at Biltmore Estate or strolling around Asheville or Black Mountain, embarking on an afternoon drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or sampling one of the area's great local restaurants. Take things at your own pace while you're staying at the Inn on Mill Creek and explore the following:

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails

The mountains of western North Carolina provide great hiking opportunities, as well as numerous mountain bike trails. Whether you want a waterfall, a stunning view of some of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi, a peaceful walk in the woods, a trail where you can search for wildflowers, birds, geocaches or a train tunnel, a strenuous climb or an easy stroll, you'll find it here! We're not kidding. Here are a few options that are within a five-minute drive from the Inn:

  • Point Lookout - a 3.5-mile paved greenway that leads to the 24-mile Royal Gorge overlook and also gives access to the old stagecoach road along the Swannanoa Creek used by travelers before the railroad was constructed

  • Heartbreak Ridge - a hiking/mountain biking trail that splits off in two directions, leading several miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway or down to the Curtis Creek Recreation Area

  • Kitsuma - a half-mile switchback trail (well-known to mountain bikers) that offers views of Ridgecrest from Kitsuma Peak

  • Youngs Ridge - four miles of ridgeline trail that connects Kitsuma Peak to the Old Fort Picnic grounds near the Inn

And that's not all.

  • The town of Montreat, with more than 15 hiking trails of various distance and level of difficulty, is 15 minutes away

  • Want to check out a waterfall? The trailhead for the 340-foot Catawba Falls (pictured below) is 20 minutes southeast, Linville Falls is less than an hour northeast, and there are smaller falls in between the two

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway entrance near Asheville is 20 minutes west of the Inn and leads to several trails and gorgeous views at Mt. Mitchell State Park, Grandfather Mountain, Mt. Pisgah, and Craggy Gardens

  • The trail system and 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park is just 30 minutes to the south

  • The NC Arboretum's gardens and trails, as well as and Bent Creek's mountain biking trails, are less than an hour away

Ask when you arrive -- we have hiking trail maps for all the area's trails.

GUIDED MOUNTAIN BIKING TRIPS

Mountain biker on a trail in the woods - Photo Credit Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures

Our friends at Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures lead professionally guided half-day and full-day mountain biking excursions for individual riders, couples and small groups at all experience levels.

 

Explore excellent mountain biking trails in the greater Asheville area, including Dupont State Recreational Forest and Pisgah National Forest, with experienced, expert guides who are well-versed in the area's mountain biking trail systems. For information, visit their website or call 828.393.0101 to reserve a trip during your stay at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B.

Catawba Falls in Old Fort NC

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Italian Garden

Constructed by George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, Biltmore House is 175,000 square feet of gorgeous architecture and opulent furnishings, not to mention ridiculously outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Surrounding it are 8,000 acres of  gardens, a Conservatory filled to the brim with trees and plants, and Antler Hill Village and Winery, which offers complimentary tastings (our favorites: the Sangiovese, the Limited Release Malbec and the Pinot Grigio). Antler Hill Village also includes a farm and kitchen garden, as well as an outdoor center that offers horseback riding, bike rentals (or bring your own bike and ride the trails), river float trips, archery, shooting clays, fly fishing lessons and even Segway tours.

Tickets to Biltmore Estate for our guests are always at a discount when purchased here at the Inn, can be used any day, and are good for the following day for FREE.

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Stretching from the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, a breathtakingly scenic byway that meanders along the Blue Ridge through the Appalachian Mountains. We happen to think the most beautiful part of the Parkway is right here in the Asheville area. And the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway on the east side of Asheville at the Folk Art Center is just 20 minutes from the Inn on Mill Creek. From this starting point, travel south and find the 430-acre North Carolina Arboretum as well as Mt. Pisgah and Graveyard Fields. Heading north will bring you to beautiful Craggy Gardens (pictured below), with its 360-degree views of the Black Mountains and Blue Ridge (perfect for taking in fall foliage) and loads of blooming rhododendron in late spring. Further north is Mt. Mitchell State Park, home of the tallest peak in the eastern United States, and beyond that are Grandfather Mountain and Linville Gorge, all great for hiking. An alternative to the Asheville entrance is to head east from the Inn on Highway 70 through Old Fort and then travel scenic Highway 80 (popular with motorcyclists) 12 miles north to the Parkway; this route will put you north of Asheville, Mt. Mitchell and Craggy Gardens, and south of Grandfather Mountain.

Craggy Gardens View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Being a site on the North Carolina Birding Trail, Mountains Region, we see birding enthusiasts throughout the year. With so many different elevations and microclimates in the area, you don't need to go far to see some great bird species. We highly recommend signing up for a day trip with Ventures Birding Tours during your stay at the Inn on Mill Creek. Ventures owner Simon Thompson is our resident bird expert and has led birding excursions all over the world. He's also the ornithologist at Chimney Rock State Park and leads guided bird walks on a regular basis there. If you'd like to schedule a morning or afternoon of birdwatching with Simon or one of his guides while you're staying at the Inn outside of regularly-scheduled tours, please inquire with us in advance for availability and pricing.

Tufted Titmouse at the Inn

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Forests and State Parks

Enjoy the beauty of nature at one of these nearby forests and state parks:

  • Chimney Rock State Park (and nearby Lake Lure) - located 30 minutes south of the Inn, Chimney Rock has several trails, a 404-foot waterfall, and a large granite monolith that gives the park its name; the park also offers guided nature walks and events throughout the year

  • Dupont State Forest - located southwest of Asheville, about 50 minutes from the Inn, is a treasure trove of waterfall hikes in this state forest that was one of the film locations for The Hunger Games

  • Grandfather Mountain - heading north on the Blue Ridge Parkway or US-221 will bring you to Grandfather Mountain, with beautiful views, native wildlife habitats, a nature museum, a mile-high swinging bridge, and both nature trails and backcountry trails; Grandfather Mountain is known to be a stellar place to see wildflowers in the spring and summer

  • Mt. Mitchell State Park - located in the Black Mountain Range just outside of Pisgah National Forest and home to the highest peak in the eastern United States, Mt. Mitchell State Park has several hiking trails, one of which goes to Mt. Craig {the second tallest peak in Black Mountain range}; Mt. Mitchell is about a 60-minute drive from the Inn, accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway heading north from Asheville or south on the Parkway from scenic Highway 80 in McDowell County

  • Pisgah National Forest - surrounding the Inn on Mill Creek 360 degrees and extending both north/northeast and southwest around Asheville, Pisgah National Forest was the first tract of land purchased under the 1911 Weeks Act, which established national forests in the eastern United States. Pisgah National Forest, now 510,000 acres, is home to the Curtis Creek and Davidson River recreation areas (both great for fishing) and a trail system that includes Bent Creek, Looking Glass Falls, Roan Mountain, Max Patch, the Linville Gorge Wilderness area and much more

Forest near the Inn

  

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Art and Museums

In 2011, Asheville was recently named as the top small city for art by American Style magazine and for good reason -- Asheville and the small towns around it are full of talented artists and craftspeople. Woodworkers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, glassworkers, jewelry makers, photographers and so on, have found their inspiration and make their living here in the mountains.

Several times a year, you can take part in art strolls of galleries and artists' studios. Three popular ones are:

Green Glass Bowl

There are also annual art and craft (and music) festivals, such as the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) and the Sourwood Festival in Black Mountain, the Biltmore Village Art & Craft Fair and the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in Asheville, and the Honey Bee Arts Festival in Marion.

In addition, the Folk Art Center, at the east Asheville entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, has a permanent collection of arts and crafts by the Southern Highland Craft Guild, as well as various exhibits and craft demonstrations throughout the year.

Asheville even has an Urban Walking Trail, which divides the city's history into five different time periods. Stroll a little over a half mile around the city along a route that contains 30 bronze sculptures made mostly by local artists. Along with the sculptures are plaques telling about different events and important people in Asheville's history, such as Thomas Wolfe, E. W. Grove, James Vester Miller, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, and Richard Sharp Smith (architect of Biltmore House).

If museums and/or galleries are your thing, you have a variety of options, including:

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, the famous author's childhood home, is open to the public as a North Carolina State Historical Site. And history museums, such as the Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center in Old Fort and the Swannanoa Valley Museum in Black Mountain, offer museum-goers the opportunity to learn about the early history of the area through exhibits and historical artifacts.

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and a State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Restaurants and Breweries

Sure, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but lunch and dinner aren't far behind, especially in an area known as Foodtopia. Farm fresh local ingredients reign supreme here in western North Carolina, and you'll find "buy local" to be the norm, with several farmers' markets and family farms supplying fare for many of the local restaurants. No matter what type of cuisine you seek, there's a good chance you'll find it here... Southern, contemporary American, Italian, Thai, Indian, French, bakeries, chocolate, pizza, burgers, steak, seafood, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, organic, our area has it all. And we have menus for all our guest favorites in Black Mountain and Asheville. So eat well while you're here and let us know if we can help with finding a restaurant and making reservations.

In addition to fabulous dining, Asheville has been crowned Beer City USA mulitiple times, with more microbreweries per capita than any other city in the nation. Currently, there are 13 craft breweries in the area, with two more on the way -- Sierra Nevada and New Belgium Brewing Company are set to open up east coast operations in Asheville soon. If you like to sample local brews, check out Black Mountain Ale House, visit Bruisin' Ales in Asheville {they have 1,000+ different beers from all over the world and right here in our neck of the woods}, or take the Brews Cruise of Asheville area breweries. And if wine is more to your liking, two great local wine markets are located in the town of Black Mountain -- Merry Wine Market and the Artisan Gourmet Market -- selling both locally-produced and national/international wines and offering tastings. 

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Fall Foliage

One of the questions we get asked the most is, "When is the best date to see fall foliage in your area?" It's a tough question, because western North Carolina generally sees six weeks of color beginning in late September/early October at the highest elevations, and then the wave of reds, golds and oranges washes slowly downward to lower elevations during the month of October. The peak time to see fall foliage at our elevation (2,300 feet) is generally October 21-31...below is a photo of the overlook at Point Lookout Trail near the Inn, taken October 28, 2010. The trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of the Inn peak earlier, while the trees at Chimney Rock State Park, 30 minutes south of the Inn, typically peak a week or two later than our area. However, these date ranges can vary based on what Mother Nature feels like doing each year. Check out our North Carolina mountains fall foliage reports on our Bed & Breakfast blog to keep track of which tree species are changing and where the best places are to take a "leaf peeping" scenic drive each week during the fall season. You can also access previous years' fall foliage reports on the blog.

Point Lookout Trail Old Fort NC

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Quilt Trail

McDowell Quilt Trail

Sponsored by the McDowell Arts Council Association, the McDowell Quilt Trail is our county's driving trail of quilt squares that have been painted and hung on businesses (we have two blocks, pictured), public buildings, schools and libraries, and even private residences.

County businesses, organizations and residents sponsor the blocks on their buildings and get to pick the design and colors, so all the blocks are unique and handcrafted and painted by local artists.

You can currently see more than 100 quilt blocks while driving on the McDowell Quilt Trail; maps are available at the McDowell Tourism Authority's offices in the Old Fort Railroad Depot & Museum. 

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching

Geocaching

As geocachers (there's one of our geocaching innpugs on the right, Csaba, sensing that a cache is near...), we know that some of you are like us and put together lists of caches to find during your travels. While you're here, check out the Fire Road series of 20+ geocaches placed by several local cachers along the Forest Service access roads just above the Inn. In addition, there are great caches to be found on trails at Warren Wilson College and Montreat College, around Asheville, near Chimney Rock State Park and the NC Arboretum, the town of Black Mountain and along the Catawba Falls Trail, all 30 minutes' drive or less from the Inn on Mill Creek. We've even got one called All the Difference, placed in the woods on our property. Happy caching!

Csaba Geocaching  

Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails  |  Biltmore Estate  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway  |  Birding and the NC Birding Trail

Forests and State Parks  |  Art and Museums  |  Restaurants and Breweries  | Fall Foliage  |  Quilt Trail  |  Geocaching