Fall in the NC Mountains and The Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall has recently arrived in the NC Mountains and the color of the trees is truly magnificent.  One way to enjoy the colors of an NC Mountain Fall are by taking a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs through Alleghany County NC, Ashe County NC, and Watauga County NC.  Jamie Jensen of Travel+Leisure just wrote a segment in regards to the Blue Ridge Parkway and is below for your reference.

America’s Most Iconic Drives

Classic Americana combined with great scenic drives make for can’t-miss road trips across the country.

By Jamie Jensen


Automobile ads love to show shiny vehicles cruising open highways under blue skies, with mountains and beaches nearby. But when was the last time you took a drive like that? For most of us, our cars are merely workhorses to haul us around town.

Still, it’s easy to break out of the rut. Magnificent roads are never far—routes that slice through forests, dance along the coastlines, and thread through mountain passes. They’re scenic drives, yes, but they’re also classically American. And once you find the right route, it’s easy to rediscover the exuberant freedom of the open road.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

For most of its 469-mile route, the Blue Ridge Parkway alternates between grand panoramas and up-close looks at lush forests and meadows. That’s no surprise considering that it runs atop the Appalachian Mountains between Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains of far western North Carolina. The parkway is a leisurely cruise rather than a roller coaster, with one exception—its most breathtaking section, the Linn Cove Viaduct, which skims the treetops as it winds around the parkway’s highest peak.

Where to Stop: Grandfather Mountain. Rising high above Linn Cove, this 5,837-foot peak offers great views and the famous “Mile High Swinging Bridge.”

Try to make it up to the NC Mountains this fall and take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Furthermore, if you would like to stop in and check on the local NC Mountain Real Estate stop by and see me at my local Regency Properties office that is located in West Jefferson NC.


Proposed Tax Changes for 2011

This is a letter that a local CPA prepared for me explaining the proposed tax changes for 2011.  For a lot of you it may be a great time to liquidate some of your retirement funds and purchase North Carolina or Virginia property.  Check with your local CPA for all of the details today and click the link below to see the letter prepared by my personal CPA.

Pond Mountain to Open in August

In a time when Ashe County is faced with the possible closure of Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area as a recreation venue, the opportunity to open another mountain to the public was completed in January with the transfer of Pond Mountain to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).

With the mountains opening this August, Pond Mountain will serve the area as both a nature conservancy for protected species and game land for hunters. It will also offer trails for horseback riding and hiking as well as a primitive campground.

The four-year long effort to purchase the private lands and transform the mountain into a public resource was completed in five phases by the Blue Ridge Conservancy.

A Boone based nonprofit land trust the conservancys interest in the mountain was three-fold before it was eventually transferred to the state wildlife commission agency.

One of the reasons was Pond Mountains scenic value, Executive Director Walter Clark said. It is situated right in the middle of four other mountains (Mt. Rogers, Whitetop, Threetop and Mt. Jefferson).

Another reason was for the wildlife habitat because its adjacent to the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and it would be an increase in an already large area available for wildlife.

Conservancy officials realized the importance of protecting the mountains water quality as it is the head waters for Big Horse, Little Horse and Big Laurel tributaries that eventually flow into the North Fork of the New River, Clark said.

Land conservation and water quality go hand in hand, Clark said.

Previously owned by Dale Shepherd, the conservancy began purchasing the property after it was handed down to his heirs.

Clark explained the first stage of purchasing was completed with the contribution of a private donor in the amount of $1.3 million. Other phases were also completed in part through two state trust funds (CLEAR Water Management and National Heritage trust funds).

In these days of tight economic resources conserving land is challenging it takes time, creativity and the melding together of a variety of funding resources, Clark said in a press release. We hope its the first step in protecting surrounding properties, ultimately preserving thousands of acres in the northwestern corner of North Carolina.

With the paperwork finalized, the state resource commission, NCWRC, is aiming for an Aug. 1 public opening date.

Commission Supervising Wildlife Biologist Gordon Warburton said officials are still trying to establish gates and complete a parking area before it will be truly public accessible.

Unlike a state maintained park, Pond Mountain is a game land and will not be regularly staffed, but instead will be overseen by a group of tract managers based out of the Traphill area.

Although the nearly 1,800 acres of protected land will serve the local habitat as a conservancy, it will also offer local outdoorsmen new hunting grounds that in turn fund future nature conservancy efforts.

The two (hunting and conservation) are very interrelated, Warburton said. Hunting dollars provide money for conservations and is an integral part of our plan.

Hunting on the protected lands, should begin after the mountains opening in August and will be on a permit basis for this year to allow existing Christmas tree operations time to wind down as outlined in the transfer of the land, Clark said.

All seasonal hunts will be done in three-day blocks and information for permits can be found at www.ncwildlife.org under the regulations digest.

After the current stand of trees are harvest near the mountains peak, the conservancy plans on planting high elevation shrubbery for certain species of birds. A wetlands restoration project of the mountains ponds and other water sources should encourage the arrival of new species of frogs and salamanders, said Clark.

Through our work, we will enhance the habitat and existing species (bear and deer) should respond, said Clark. Our goal will be to maintain the current population levels of existing species.

This is an area we have had our eye on for a long time and are excited from a conservation standpoint to be stewards of the land.

Published: 1:37 PM, 02/04/2011
Last updated: 1:37 PM, 02/04/2011

by Jesse Campbell

As Temperatures Cool Down, Choose and Cut Season Heats Up in Ashe County


With the passing of all the turkey and trimmings from the table, many High Country residents are now turning their attention to searching for the perfect Holiday centerpiece: a freshly cut Christmas tree.

Unlike millions of Americans, locals don’t have to venture far to find the Fraser fir of their choice, as Ashe County and the rest of the High Country pride itself as one of the nation’s leaders in the raising of Christmas trees.

But locals aren’t the only ones cashing in on the county’s leading cash crop. Glenn Davis, proprietor of Davis Tree Farm in Piney Creek, has served customers from the Piedmont and as far away as Nashville, Tenn.

"They come from all over," Davis said.

What happens if Davis can’t make it to the farm to serve customers on any given day during the Choose and Cut season? He simply refers them to his neighbor’s farm, Johnson Tree Farm.

"We help each other out," said Davis

Now in his fifth year of running his tree business, Davis does not believe the slumping economy has affected the sale of trees and expects another successful season by the end of the choose and cut extravaganza on Dec. 20.

Linda Shumate, of Lyn-Lynn’s Trees, Wreaths, and Christmas Crafts said the Thanksgiving Weekend and the following week are traditionally her farm’s best week with tourists comprising the majority of her customer base.

"I’ve had folks from Charlotte, Winston, Taylorsville and even a few regulars from Florida," Shumate said. "I usually have more out-of-towners than locals probably because most people around here have kin folk who can find them trees."

If trudging through a tree field isn’t exactly your cup of tea, Lynn’s Trees also offers ready to carry precut trees and hot apple cider along with handcrafted gifts at a nearby shop to complete your next holiday excursion.

"We sell more wreaths than trees and we even have one really big wreath that people love to have their picture with because it sort of frames their face," Shumate said.

Other growers, such as Bill Smith of Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees, said that weather usually plays a leading factor in what type of customer turnout he can expect on any day during the season although he added that "business has been really good" as of late. Soggy days like Tuesday usually keeps tree seekers in doors and away from tree lots.

Hayrides, cups of cider and even a few inflatable snowmen are just a few of the little extras offered to customers at lots around the county in efforts to draw in new faces.

Tom Mash, of Mountain Memories Christmas Trees in Jefferson, said the side attractions also help draw children into the Choose and Cut season to make it a holiday event for the whole family to enjoy.

Mash, who is now in his 12th Choose and Cut season, said the economy has hit all too close to home with the slumping tree sales.

"People are starting to go with cheaper trees than they normally would have five years ago," said Mash who explained that business was "going well" this year on the farm.

Like other growers, most of Mash’s customer base hails from ‘off the mountain’ and as in his farm’s case up to 95 percent of all buyers are tourists.

Ashe County’s 2010 Choose and Cut season continue this week and the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.

Still not sure where to turn this holiday season for the perfect tree? Check out this list of local growers.

Angel Hare Forest
841 W. Reno Road
Glendale Springs

(336) 982-3530

Davis Tree Farm
1620 Piney Creek Road
(336) 384-3388

Grouse Ridge Trees
14911 Old Hwy 16
Grassy Creek
(336) 384-9688

High Country Tree and Wreath Co. Inc.
13705 Hwy 18 South
Laurel Springs
(336) 359-8999

Johnson Tree Farm
796 Piney Creek Road
(336) 384-2768

Lee’s Trees
965 Helen Blevins Road
West Jefferson
(336) 846-1288

Lil’ Grandfather Tree Farm
15371 N.C. Hwy 18 South
Laurel Springs
(336) 372-9613

Long’s Choose and Cut Christmas Trees
8306 Hwy 16 S
Glendale Springs
(336) 246-3659

Lyalls Nursery
238 Mt. Valley Drive
West Jefferson
(336) 846-7516

Lyn-Lynn’s Trees, Wreaths and Christmas Crafts
104 Shumate Drive
(336) 384-2451

Mistletoe Meadows
583 Burnt Hill Road
Laurel Springs
(336) 982-9754

Mountain Memories Christmas Trees
500 Cox Road
(336) 246-7037

Reindeer Crossing Choose and Cut
153 Wiley Street
(336) 846-5249

Shady Rest Tree Farms
287 Trading Post Road
Glendale Springs
(336) 982-2031

Three Top Mountain Evergreens
240 Miller Street
(336) 973-7353

Tom Miller’s Tree Farm and Nursery
13893 Highway 18 South
Laurel Springs
(336) 982-3166

Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees
Glendale Springs
(336) 982-3507

Wayland’s Nursery
1003 Round Knob Ridge
West Jefferson
(336) 246-7729

West End Wreaths
2152 Beaver Creek School Road
West Jefferson
(336) 846-7300


Article courtesy of Jesse Campbell with the Ashe Mountain Times.