Tri-State Hidden Gems – VA, NC, WV

Jerry and I recently went on a road trip to visit the locations where Dirty Dancing was filmed:  Lake Lure, NC and Pembroke, VA (you can click on each city to read more about each location). Of course you know me, I am going to make the best of every road trip and try to see as much as I possibly can!

First stop was Lake Lure, NC. We chose to stay in Hendersonville, NC due to the prices of lodging – it was only 15 miles away from Lake Lure. On our way to the hotel we noticed this small town called Flat Rock – it was only 3 miles from our hotel so we decided to explore. Flat Rock was established in 1828, founded by several Charlestonian families in the 1800’s who would spend their summers in the area. This earned Flat Rock the title of the “little Charleston of the mountain.”

FLAT ROCK, NC

 

After a quick google search I found that Flat Rock is home to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site where you can tour the poet’s home, walk the grounds, hike to a couple of overlooks and pet the goats who are direct descendants of Sandburg’s wife’s prized goat herd. Who is Carl Sandburg? He was an American poet, writer, and editor who won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. At the time of his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”

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It was almost 6pm when we arrived so the house was closed for tours. There are over 5 miles of trails on his property, so we decided to walk the 1.5 mile loop to see the outside of his home, and a few other cools spots.

Downtown Flat Rock has several cute buildings. The first one I stopped at was the old Post Office. Next stop was the Wrinkled Egg – a cute little shop filled with souvenirs, home decor, and local art. For 20+ years, The Wrinkled Egg (2710 Greenville Highway) has anchored Flat Rock’s colorful corner. Of course it was closed, but I snapped these pictures of a cute pig and big rooster sitting on the front porch!

 

On the way back to the hotel we saw this beautiful waterfall and old grist mill so I just had to stop to get some pictures. These mill houses are located at the top of the falls with long views of Highland Lake…Absolutely beautiful!!!!

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To end the day, God blessed us with this beautiful rainbow. I could clearly see the whole thing, but of course I could not get it all in one picture! These pictures do it no justice – it was so bright and beautiful!

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CHIMNEY ROCK, NC

Besides seeing Lake Lure for the Dirty Dancing locations, my other goal was to hike Chimney Rock before we got on the road to Pembroke, VA. From all the visits we have made to Asheville over the years, I had noticed that Chimney Rock was not too far away, but we never had the time to stop. After researching online, I read that the park had been closed for construction due to all the rain they have been getting, however it was due to open at 0830 the next morning for business as usual! I was so excited, I could not stand it, I got there an hour and a half early and after waiting all that time I got told at 8:30 that they were not going to open due to a tree being down on the path. I was so disappointed, I had been wanting to make this hike for years. Oh, well, maybe next time! Below is the only picture I was able to get of the rock!

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If you do get to go and hike Chimney Rock, make sure you hike the extra 1.5 mile to Hickory Nut Falls, the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River at 404 feet. It was even featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans!

GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK

Next stop: Grayson Highlands State Park. This park is located just north of the Virginia-North Carolina border in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia near Mount Rogers. The first time I saw pictures of this park and the wild ponies that roamed freely on the mountain tops, I knew I had to go!  These ponies were released into the area in 1975 to control brush growth.

When you arrive at the entrance to the park you will be asked to pay $5 for parking. If you proceed approximately 2 miles there will be a parking lot that you can park in to start at Massie Gap and hike the Rhododendron Trail, which connects to a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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This trail will lead you across Wilburn Ridge to Rhododendron Gap, of the best spots to see the ponies. Below are a few pictures from our hike.

 

Since we were wondering aimlessly I decided to see if there were any LOVE signs on our route. The first one I found was in the city of Dayton. I saw the picture on Instagram, and it was beautiful. Of course when we got to the sign, it did not look like it did in the picture. Jerry was so mad that we had gotten off of the interstate to go search for this sign that he would not even get out to take my picture. I had to settle for a selfie! LOL!

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After this, Jerry said no more! But he didn’t say we couldn’t stop for covered bridges! I found four, here they are:

COVERED BRIDGES OF VA

FIRST ONE:  Sinking Creek Bridge, 70-foot-long red wooden bridge with a tin roof, built in 1916. One of three historic covered bridges remaining in Giles County.

SECOND ONE:  Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge. Currently the longest covered bridge in Virginia. Burned down on October 28, 1976. Rebuilt in 1978.

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THIRD AND FINAL – Biedler Farm Covered Bridge. This one is on private property and is posted against trespassers. We did not know that until we turned down this one lane road and saw the sign. It was too late to turn around so we kept going to the bridge, I got out and snapped a selfie while Jerry turned the car around and prayed we didn’t get shot!

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COOTER’S GARAGE, LURAY, VA

Once we got back on the interstate I saw a sign for Cooter’s Garage in Luray, VA. I grew up watching the Dukes of Hazard and absolutely loved that show, so we HAD to stop!!! It was only a 13 mile detour from the interstate. The Garage is open 7 days a week and Cooter himself (Ben Jones) is there Monday through Saturday performing a free concert and signing autographs! Of course it was Sunday the day we stopped, so I did not get to see him, but I did get to see the General Lee and much more, see below pictures!

HARPERS FERRY, WV

Last stop was Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the eastern most town in West Virginia situated at the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. The town is rich in American history serving as the site of the infamous John Brown’s Raid in 1859 and playing a key role in the Civil War, changing hands between the Union & Confederate forces 8 times in 4 years.

Another fun fact about Harpers Ferry is that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) headquarters is located here.

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The Appalachian Trail passes directly through town, which some consider the psychological midpoint of the trail, although the physical midpoint is further north, in Pennsylvania. Uniquely, the towns of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar partnered with the ATC to be declared a united Appalachian Trail Community. I popped in to the ATC just to take a look around and Jerry and I hiked the portion of the trail that went through town down to the point where the two rivers meet.


Jerry had seen a picture on the internet of a higher view, so after some research we found the Maryland Heights Overlook Cliff Trail and decided to make the hike so we could get an elevated view.

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The hike was straight up for approximately 1.5 miles, then down hill for .5 (4 miles round trip) until you get to the overlook – it was worth the view!

Hope you enjoyed reading!  I cannot wait for our next adventure!!!

 

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