As Thomas’ luck would have it, we headed back to the mountains… I do love the mountains, don’t get me wrong! However, it’s been back-to-back mountain trips and I don’t see any ending in sight. Our October 2021 trip was our last camping trip of the year up near Black Mountain, NC. This post is an in-depth synopsis for the short video we created of our trip posted below.
Black Mountain Camping
We’re in a rhythm of planning a week in advance and no further lately. Our busy schedules have made our brains stay in this survival mode that I know a lot of other folks are going through, too. With that being said, our only plan for this trip was to camp and I wanted to paddle. So, when we started looking for campsites, it was not easy finding something last minute!
However, our saving grace to this poor planning method lately has been HipCamp (use code THOMASB0A77C6 for $10 towards a HipCamp reservation). We’ve enjoyed these properties so much because it’s normally pretty quiet, the hosts are super nice and helpful, and they’re located in some cool spots close to parks and outdoor recreation.
Thomas found the perfect campsite for the family this trip. The main reason he was so drawn to it? A creek running through the site! A perfect feature for our little adventurer and it definitely kept him incredibly entertained while at the site. Each morning and evening Liam hustled down to the creek, sat by the edge, and put leaves in the water to watch them drift away in the current.
This site was also a 10 minute drive from the town Black Mountain. Such a cute, quaint, NC mountain town with breweries, awesome local eats, and even an outdoor shop (which we needed when Liam got all his shoes and socks wet playing in the creek).
Hiking Craggy Gardens
As I said, we didn’t have much of a plan for this trip. However, we knew we wanted to go hiking and when we asked our camp host, she gave us a few options. We were drawn right back to the Blue Ridge Parkway to hit areas we haven’t had the chance to explore yet, like Craggy Gardens!
We parked at the Craggy Gardens picnic area and took the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. This was such a little surprise as we didn’t realize that the MST was there at all. The trail was beautiful in all the fall colors, but Liam was not in the hiking mood. As he’s just outgrown his kid carrier, poor Thomas carried him most of the way as we tried to entice his hiking with snacks, rocks, and leaves.
The best part of this trail is definitely the open field with a gorgeous, 360 overlook. We spent our time climbing trees, chasing each other, and taking in the view before heading to the Visitor Center. If you’ve ever driven on the Blue Ridge Parkway, chances are you’ve passed this little visitor center on the edge of the mountain with a great overlook. We got Liam’s very own National Park Passport here along with his first stamp!
Lake Lure – A BUST!
The one thing I wanted to do this trip was paddle! I’m always down for a new place to put in the board and thought that Lake Lure would be the perfect fall exploration. Well, this is definitely where little planning kicked us in the behind… you need a permit from the town to put in anywhere on Lake Lure. Lake Lure is a small lake that’s very open with lots of vacation homes built up on it. It’s a relaxing paddle through nature. So, as the permit has to be acquired at town hall and cost about $20-$25, I took it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be.
However, Liam had been stuck in the car for sometime as we figured all this out. So, coming into town, we saw the adorable Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. It was well worth checking it out. Liam loved running around and looking into the lake below. Of course, Liam found a fountain where he wanted to spend most of his time. However, we had a great little family stroll looking at plants, sculptures, and all their garden creations.
Since Lake Lure was a bust, we decided to head back up to Chimney Rock to do some fishing at a pull-off we saw on the way. It’s so easy to pack up our Sato Tenkara rod on our trips. Even though we didn’t really plan to do any fishing, it was a great pivot from not being able to paddle. The Paul & Elsie Matthews Overlook is great stop right off the road. We had a tailgate lunch before letting Liam toss rocks while we took turns fishing. We didn’t catch anything and we’re still getting the hang of the Tenkara style but well worth the pivot in plans.
Heading Home Pit Stop
No one really likes heading home, right? So, I wanted to make one more stop before calling an end to our October adventure. I had heard of this brewery in Morganton that I wanted to check out with Thomas knowing it was going to be great with Liam. Fonta Flora Brewery at Whippoorwill Farm is about 15 minutes off I-40 in Morganton and definitely a gem for all beer drinking parents. There is a ton of open, outdoor space to play frisbee, cornhole, or just let the kids run. The beer is very inventive and we enjoyed our Sweet Potato ales.
Liam made friends left and right. He sat right down on an 18 month old’s picnic blanket and exchanged toys until the little one was crying so hard for a nap. Then went right over to an older couple and sat with them even though we were trying to close our tab to complete our drive home.
This was our last camping trip of the year and it was incredibly memorable. We do these trips to inspire folks to get outside, to explore, and to bring your kiddos with you. However, these trips are also creating very powerful memories for our family. It forces us to do something every month and it has been a blast.
Until next month, friends!