Experience stunning mountain views, handcrafted brews and Appalachian history in North Carolina’s Haywood County
The gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and home to over 46 miles of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Haywood County is the ideal place for groups to have an authentic Appalachian experience. Whether your group prefers to explore a variety of hiking trails, settle in for a farm-to-table meal or browse boutiques in the county’s many charming towns, Haywood County can tailor an unforgettable North Carolina visit.
Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s most visited national parks and home to a stunning variety of plant and animal life. Cataloochee Valley, one of the most remote and beautiful areas of the park, is nestled in the heart of Haywood County. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing and preserved buildings from the early 1900s, there is plenty to explore in Cataloochee Valley. The area’s most popular trails include the Little Cataloochee Church Hike (where visitors will learn about the valley’s 19th century settlers), Black Balsam Knob (which offers sweeping views of surrounding mountain ranges) and Purchase Knob (especially popular in the autumn for brilliant fall foliage views). Guests who prefer to view the Smokies from the comfort of their bus can ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Haywood County is also home to the most beautiful waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains, and many short trails offer plenty of sightseeing opportunities. Groups looking for low-impact waterfall hikes should visit Soco Falls, Looking Glass Falls or Upper & Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields.
Want to take a deep dive into Haywood County’s rich history? The area includes several museums and historic sites filled with preserved artifacts and friendly guides who can illuminate groups about North Carolina heritage. The Shelton House Museum and The Museum of NC Handicrafts in Waynesville feature comprehensive exhibits on 19th century Appalachian crafts such as quilts, coverlets and dulcimers in addition to four acres of gardens. Visit the Wheels Through Time Museum to see a collection of over 300 vintage American motorcycles (including Harley-Davidson, Excelsior and Indian models) and engaging exhibits that focus on bikes used for racing and military purposes. More history is found in the Shook-Smathers House, which was built in 1795 and believed to be the oldest standing frame-built house in western North Carolina.
Groups can also embark on a culinary adventure through the county’s many microbreweries and farm-to-table restaurants. Three Haywood businesses welcome groups for tastings and an inside look at the brewing process (Bearwaters Brewing Company, Boojum Brewing Company and Frog Level Brewing Company), showcase the rich craft beer tradition of North Carolina. For a craft spirits experience, arrange a tour at Elevated Mountain Distilling Company. Groups will walk through the facility’s barrel storage, bottling area, product development lab and gift shop before sampling premium whiskey, vodka and moonshine.