I have been living in Boone, North Carolina off and on now for over a year, as I attend Appalachian State University. Over the course of the year I have grown to love this little, quiet, and adventurous town. I can’t deny that every now and then I get tired of the small town lifestyle and yearn to be back in the suburbs of Lawrenceville-Suwanee, Georgia I call home. In the end though, this town has become a part of me and I think something will always lead me back to Boone.
While I do like to think of myself as quite adventurous, I do not believe there are enough hours or light in the day to experience all that I really want to. Nonetheless, I have done my fair share of adventuring (is that a word?).
Soon after arriving to Boone and starting school I became aware of the must-see places in Boone that no App student go without visiting at least once. Though I am in no way an expert or naturally “Booney,” I have tried to experience every place to the fullest.
Here is my list and short review of the places I have visited in Boone:
Moses Cone Memorial Park
Here is a quiet space to walk, ride a horse, enjoy the lake, or just to sit down and enjoy the environment. This is one of the first places I visited as a freshman at App.
The land has a lot of wonderful and interesting history. The Moses Cone house is huge and admirable despite its old age. Inside the house is a small store that sells souvenirs and homemade crafts.
There are also a number of trails to choose from, some quite long and others more short. My favorite part of coming out to the Moses Cone house is just to enjoy the spectacular view and breathe in the fresh air. From the top you can see a little bit of the city and an endless sea of mountains. It’s just gorgeous.
Grandfather Mountain is a great place to spend an afternoon or even the the day! Although it does require an entry fee per person, it offers a small zoo, trails to walk on, a souvenir store, picnic tables, and of course a great view.
Getting there also requires a drive a long the Blue Ridge Parkway, which makes it so worth it. The longer hike is only about a mile or a mile and a half. For an unexperienced hiker, it is a little tough, but not too bad.
At the zoo, you can find eagles, pumas, otters, deer, and bears. For me, the fun part about Grandfather Mountain is having to cross the swinging bridge that is a mile high above sea level! After that there is wonderful scenery all around, perfect for pictures.
(Sorry, no picture!)
If you’re looking for a place to have dinner and enjoy some shopping, Blowing Rock is the place to be. This small town has multiple boutiques to shop from. I love the clothes that are sold here, but it is a little on the pricier side.
Depending on the season, you can also find festivals or events. There is also a Kilwin’s ice cream shop that I absolutely love. In the summertime, I also think the small park makes a perfect place to sit down and read or enjoy a quiet nap. This small town has all of that Southern charm.
Ahhh, Rough Ridge. This is a hot spot for App State Students. Every year, students will come out here to pose on the edge of the rock to take a photo.
The first time I went I was very scared to walk up to the edge. I very slowly and carefully made my way as close to the edge as I could muster. Still, not until my second visit did I actually take the picture.
The beauty of the landscape is breathtaking. Something about standing on the edge of a rock and looking out to the earth that looks endless is very humbling. This place is great to go out and reflect on a quiet morning.
Aside from the view, Rough Ridge is quite a bumpy hike. I would estimate that it is more a little longer than a mile. Maybe it’s just that I have short legs – I’m 5’1 – but the entire time I have to jump from rock to rock, as it is usually muddy. But if this is your time of hike, go for it! And if it’s not your type, I still recommend it because it is so worth it.
(Sorry, no picture!)
I visited Trashcan Falls last semester with a couple of friends. My freshman year at App State I often saw photos of people jumping from rocks into the waterfall and have wanted to do so since.
When you get there you have to park and cross the street. To get to the falls it takes about a five minute walk. Once there, you can quickly tell it is a hotspot for college kids to hangout. Some people jump into the water, others watch, and others hangout with a bear in hand.
Overall, it’s a good spot to chill after school. The water is not too deep. I just find it to be satisfyingly adventurous to jump off the edge of a rock into the water.
Thunder Hill Overlook
Good ‘ole Thunder Hill Overlook. People often come here to spread a blanket and enjoy a picnic, to do some homework, to read, or just to hangout. The name is self explanatory; Thunder Hill Overlook is an overlook.
During the day you see an endless sea of green and blue. At night, you see city lights and on a clear night you can enjoy to look up at the infinite array of stars. It’s so beautiful. Looking up at the stars is my weakness. I love looking up and just reflecting on God’s grace. It’s amazing to look up and think how we and the earth was created. Going out at night is a must!
The Flat Top Fire Tower
The first time I went out searching for this place I was with one of my best friends, Savannah. I used Apple’s Maps and completely ended up driving up dirt roads and circling the same area over and over. It was awful, although an adventure I won’t soon forget!
Anyway, getting to the Fire Tower requires driving over to the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the Manor House. Once there, you park and walk to the left. There, you will see a bridge and clear path. From then on you just walk down the path, which is about a two miles long (just a guesstimate).
When I went it was about a week after Storm Jonas and the snow had not quite melted. It goes without saying, there was a lot of snow, a lot of ice, and a really long walk. Despite the cold, it was a very enjoyable walk. My only regret was not having a dog with me!
The Fire Tower itself was not as sketchy as I thought it would be, and the view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.