Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap is great place for a picnic, a hike or primitive camping.

The Jones Gap Trail runs along the Upper Saluda River which is a beautiful river and home to brook and rainbow trout. It leads to a small waterfall as well as to a number of other more difficult trails.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 25 miles

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Max Patch

Max Patch is a bald mountain located on the NC/TN border offering 360 degree panoramas. It can be reached through a variety of trails or you can simply drive to it via NC road 148. (Take exit 7 from I40.) It also offers plenty of good camping spots.

The Appalachian Trail runs across the top of Max Patch.

Click image to see larger view of 360 Pan of Max Patch.

Here are two of the hiking options:
From Brown Gap via the AT
To Lemon Gap

There's a nice loop that can be hiked from Brown Gap via the Cherry Creek Trail. Pick up a copy of Appalachian Trail maps #3 & #4 or National Geographic Topo map #782 to find other options.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 105 Miles

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Table Rock State Park

Table Rock State Park is one of the nicest state parks around. It has two nice lakes with canoes, paddleboats and rowboats for rent. One of the lakes has a small beach and is open for swimming during the summer months.

It also has some great trails of varying degrees of difficulty.

It has two RV/tent campgrounds, as well as primitive walk-in campsites and some very nice (although rustic) cabins for rent. One of the great things about the cabins is that they have large stone fireplaces that (unlike many cabins) burn real wood.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 32 miles.

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Victoria Valley Vineyards

Over the last decade, the Blue Ridge Mountain range has quietly become a home to dozens and dozens of wineries. The highest concentration of Carolina vineyards can be found in the Yadkin Valley. Sadly though most of these east coast wines leave much to be desired and in addition are over-priced. Knowing this, my wife and I didn't expect much when we stumbled across the Victoria Valley Vineyards, but we were pleasantly surprised. We tasted 12 different wines and found them all to be quite good.

They also serve lunch and dinner and host various local musical acts.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 29 miles

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South of the Border

If the words cheap, tawdry, and dayglo fluorescent conjure positive images in your mind, then South of the Border is the place for you. Located just south of the North Carolina Border on I-95, SotB is the prime stop for the best kitsch in the state. From fireworks to bumper stickers to tacos you wouldn't feed your neighbor's pitbull, this place has it all. And if you just can't get enough in one day, a campground and several motels are located within walking distance of the the shops, miniature golf course and amusement park.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 214 miles.

Linville Falls Village, NC

The Village of Linville Falls is located on Highway 221 atop the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with an elevation of 3400 feet and an average summer temperature of 67 degrees. Unique in location, it is situated in three counties: Avery, Burke and McDowell.

Linville Falls is a great weekend retreat. The village (which is really more of a single intersection) contains many cabin and camping opportunities. It is also home of Linville Gorge (The Grand Canyon of North Carolina) and Linville Caverns.

While in the area make sure to try a meal or two at Famous Louise's Restaurant, where you can dine in one of three counties.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 115 miles
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The Devil's Courthouse

This is a 330 degree view from the Devil's Courthouse just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 422. From this point, four states can be seen on a clear day, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Click image for larger view.

It's also makes a nice side trip when hiking this section of the Mountains to Sea trail.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 66 miles

The Cozy Cabin

The Cozy Cabin, located near Cashiers, NC, is great little place to run away to on a weekend. It's minutes from great hiking, fishing and golfing and the outdoor hot tub is a great way to both start and end the day.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 72 miles

Pleasant Ridge County Park

Pleasant Ridge County Park is a great little park in northern Greenville County that appears to be practically unknown. Every time I've been there, there has never been more than a handful of people in the park.

The park contains both car camping sites and primitive camping sites, hiking trails, a small lake which is good for both swimming and fishing and four cabins for rent. It also the future home of Camp Spearhead. To the right of the picture above were a flock of Canadian Geese and Great Blue Heron. Unfortunately they were all a bit skittish and I was not able to get a photo.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 21 miles

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Mount LeConte, TN

Mt. LeConte is located in America's most popular national park (Great Smoky Mountains National Park).  At an elevation of 6642' it is only 291' lower in elevation than Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the east. There are five trails that lead to the summit (seen above).

The shortest trail is the Alum Cave Trail, named after the cave above.

At the top of Mt. LeConte is a lodge with several small heated cabins. The lodge is accessible only by trail (5 miles being the shortest).  

A bear apparently tried to get into one of the buildings the night before we were there.

Distance from Downtown Greenville: 126 miles

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11 Center Street Wine and Gourmet

11 Center Street is a great wine bar and tapas restaurant located in Folly Beach, SC. It's relatively new and offers indoor and outdoor seating. The bottom part of the establishment is a wine and craft beer shop.

The back area contains outdoor seating complete with firepace.

Upstairs has a small performance area and overlooks Folly's "downtown".

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Asheville Film Festival

The great little mountain town of Asheville, NC hosts a great little film festival which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. All the venues are in the downtown area and all are within walking distance of one another, as well as being close to great restaurants and pubs.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 63 miles
Local Geocaches

A message from the good folks at the Inn at Irish Meadows

This e-mail just arrived from our Waynesville innkeepers at the Inn at Irish Meadows.

We still have one room available for the weekend of Nov. 2 and 3. Green Meadows, our twin room on second floor, is open. It can be quickly converted to a king sized room upon request. If you are not able to join us, please feel free to share this availability with others you think might enjoy the weekend.

"Art After Dark" will be in full swing in downtown Waynesville on Friday night. The Waynesville Gallery Association sponsors the event on the first Friday night of each month from May - December. Downtown merchants often have live music during Art after Dark - for example, Pheasant Hill (furniture store with dessert restaurant) will feature one of our favorites on Friday night - Jeannie Nabors. Jeannie is a great showwoman who sings a wide variety of songs - all around a great entertainer. For more information about the art gallery participation, go to

It is a perfect time for getting a head start on selecting those gifts for the people on your Christmas list who cherish one of a kind treasures. We will have gift wrap, scissors, tape, beverages and hors d'oeuvres, and after dinner dessert on Saturday evening if guests wish to wrap your their purchases by the fire in the library or the music room.

For ease of reference if you wish to see more about Iris Meadows, or wish to share information with friends, we have listed our various web sites at the bottom of this email.

Becky and George Fain, Owners/Innkeepers
Inn at Iris Meadows
304 Love Lane
Waynesville, NC 28786
Reservations: 888-Inn-Iris (466-4747) NCBBI, the NC Association of Inns, features our porch on their “Porches of the South” campaign. See it at
You may view guest comments about the inn at the site listed #3 in the list above and at at

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Location: 35°29'44.84"N 82°59'32.01"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 82 miles
Local Geocaches

Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields is a popular pull off area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It has access to three major waterfalls, acres and acres of blueberries, and several good campsites. The good news is that this area is easily accessible to almost anyone (with the exception of the physically handicapped). The bad news is that it's easily accessible to almost anyone, which means that the area is bombarded with what I call pull-off hikers, meaning people in sneakers, tank tops and flip-flops with screaming kids who leave their soda bottles laying on the trail. Also, because there is little tree coverage the noise from Parkway motorcyclists tends to further deteriorate the natural serenity of this beautiful area. Therefore the best time to visit is during the week when there are far fewer people and Harley riders are busy robbing banks or starting bar fights or whatever it is those guys do during the week.

The trail that will take you to Upper Falls and Lower Falls and Graveyard Ridge and can be found here. It's a short 3.2 mile loop.

Many dead trees such as these are located throughout the "graveyard".

This is the upper section of Upper Falls. The entire falls cannot be photographed all at once from the ground.

Lower falls is the easiest to access.

This is the very top portion of Yellowstone Falls which is a 125 foot cascading waterfall. It can best be seen a mile or so away, on the Parkway. There is no trail leading to it, and two different popular NC waterfall guidebooks advise against traveling to it. Nevertheless we had a very nice quiet lunch there away from the crowds. Since it is dangerous, I'll not give step-by-step directions for getting there. The falls are listed on National Geographic trail map number 780 and if you follow your nose, and eventually your ears, you can find it. If you find this exact area, you will be at the top and you can easily slip on a rock and fall to your death, so be careful, and don’t take small children.

Below is a short film shot here inspired by the location and the book Flatland.

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Location: N35 19.217 W82 50.841
Distance from downtown Greenville: 68 miles
Local Geocaches

Fall for Greenville

Greenville's biggest annual street party featured the classic rock band Kansas tonight, along with many others.

Better Fall for Greenville images can be found here, here, here and here.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles
Local Geocaches

Tavern by the Falls

This is a nice little restaurant located near Lake Toxaway. The seating is primarily located on a deck (sort of) overlooking Toxaway Falls. The menu, beer list and wine list are extensive, featuring several good craft beers and food items ranging from trout to duck to lobster to prime rib. Unfortunately they seem to be going through some growing pains so not everything on the menu is available at any given time, but it still makes a great place to stop after a day of fishing, golfing, hiking or geocaching nearby.

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Location: 35° 7'21.89"N 82°55'55.10"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 55 miles
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Paramount's Carowinds

(Images from Carowinds' on-line media kit.)

If you like standing in the blistering South Carolina heat for 45 minutes to gain access for a twenty second thrill ride, Carowinds is a good choice. Similar in size and quality to Six Flags, Kings Dominion, King's Island, and Bush Gardens, as far as theme parks are concerned it's a nice one. If you'd like to avoid the heat and long lines, now is a good time of the year to check it out. Although the waterpark area is closed, most everything else is open with little waiting. Also in the evenings they are currently hosting what they call Scarowinds, which includes Halloween themed exhibits and rides.

The best (and scariest) two rides, in my opinion, are the Borg Assimilator (pictured above) and the Drop Zone (pictured below). The Borg is a roller coaster where participants lie down head first and are tossed and turned all different directions. In the Drop Zone you’ll climb 160 feet then be dropped like a stone straight down at 56 mph.

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Location: 35° 6'2.96"N 80°56'19.63"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 107 miles
Local Geocaches

Mimi's Creekside Restaurant

There's not a better place to spend a Sunday morning than on Mimi's deck listening to live blues music, eating a shrimp omelet, and sippping a Bloody Mary. (My wife prefers the shrimp and grits.) It's a tiny joint with limited parking but the atmosphere and menu are definitely worth the wait.

The view from Mimi's.

Location: 32°45'3.84"N 79°57'7.18"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 216 miles
Local Geocaches

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Patriots Point

Image above taken from Patriots Point website.

Patriots Point, located in Mt. Pleasant, SC, is the location of four retired military vessels - the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier; the USS Laffey, a destroyer; the USS Clamagore, a submarine; and the USCG Cutter Ingham, a Coast Guard Cutter. All four vessels are open for a self-guided tour. Climbing aboard these ships makes it immediately apparent that our men and women in the armed forces make many sacrifices even during peacetime.

The USS Yorktown houses an air and naval museum which includes both replicas and real aircraft from past decades. There is a snack bar onboard as well but be sure to bring cash, especially in the summer months, as it gets very hot aboard these vessels.

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Location: 32°47'24.40"N 79°54'29.63"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 215 miles
Local Geocaches

West End Field

Although today marked the last game of the season for the Greenville Drive, according to John Oliver, voice of the Drive, the West End Field will continue to be open for business. In the following weeks outdoor movies will be shown at the field, and the field will be open for happy hour and lunch on certain days of the week.

Location: 34°50'31.76"N 82°24'29.70"W
Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles.
Local Geocaches

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Panthertown Valley

Panthertown Valley is a hidden treasure located in an exclusive area of Western, NC near the town of Sapphire containing hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. There are no signs leading to it. A map of the area can be found both here and on National Geographic topo map number 785 (Nantahala and Cullasaja Gorges). There is also a recently published map that is available at the Highland Hiker in Highlands. The best way to find the parking areas for Panthertown is to follow the directions found here. A western trailhead can be found following the directions found here, although it's about 30 minutes longer to get to from Greenville.

The area contains at least eight different waterfalls and many rock domes. This shot was taken from atop a Little Green Mountain, which is a large granite dome. The top image is School House Falls. The image below is Warden Falls.

According to the Nature Conservancy, “Panthertown Valley is a treat for hikers, as it contains a curious mixture of threatened and endangered species and natural communities. Panthertown is distinguished by its broad flat valley floor flanked by granite cliffs abruptly rising 200 to 300 feet. These granite domes with exposed rock are uncommon in the southern Appalachians and offer spectacular open vistas. The unusually flat valley is home to at least 11 different natural communities, including the rare southern Appalachian bog and the swamp forest-bog community. These communities harbor numerous rare plants, such as Cuthbert's turtlehead, Canada burnet, marsh bellflower, climbing fern, and spinulose wood fern.

“The headwaters of the East Fork of the Tuckasegee River and 20 miles of native brook trout streams, including Panthertown, Greenland, and Flat Creeks, are located in Panthertown Valley.”

Much of the area contains white sand, like you would typically expect to find near the coast. Following the directions listed for the western trail head will take you to all of the locations seen here, and also through an upland bog where you can see a carnivorous plant called a sundew. (Click here to know what to look for.)

A mountain biker ahead of us found this rattler on the trail and encouraged him to move to this spot under some rhododendron.

More Images. Click each one for a larger view.

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Distance from downtown Greenville: 61 miles
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