Last Updated on June 7, 2023
Henderson County is the perfect location for enjoying life. That’s especially true if you enjoy spending a significant portion of your life outdoors.
Though located in North Carolina’s mountain region, Henderson County is characterized by an extensive plateau along the French Broad and Mills River valleys. The lowest point in the county sits at approximately 1,200 feet (along the Rocky Broad River) and the high point is located on Young Pisgah Mountain at approximately 5,200 feet. Numerous city parks, walking tours, hiking, road biking, swimming, fishing, camping, zip-lining, and whitewater adventures are within easy reach. That gives locals plenty of opportunities to engage with the vast natural areas around them.
If you’re ready for a thrill, this is the destination you seek. Here are five ways to enjoy the outdoors in Henderson County.
Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The famed Blue Ridge Parkway has long been called “America’s Favorite Drive.” Indeed, not only does the road offer great views for motorists, but it takes you through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the outdoor opportunities they offer. A few miles of the 469-mile length of the Parkway skirt along the northwestern corner of Henderson County. A number of great outlooks are accessible without driving far, including the Mills River Valley Overlook, Mount Pisgah Overlook, and Cradle of Forestry Overlook. For those seeking more adventure, it’s easy to jump out of the car and onto the trail. At milepost 408.5, you can find a 1.5-mile round trip hike to the historic Fryingpan Mountain lookout tower. You don’t have to climb high—spectacular views of nearby Mount Pisgah are available from the tower’s lower levels.
Hike the mountain behind Connemara
One of Flat Rock’s biggest attractions is the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Built in 1838, this 264-acre working farm (named Connemara by its first resident) is the former estate of poet and author Carl Sandburg and his wife, Lilian “Paula” Sandburg. In addition to touring the home housing Sandburg’s collection of papers and the barn housing the descendants of Paula’s prize-winning goats, five miles of hiking trails meander through the estate. Trails range from easy to moderate, with hikes past quiet ponds, rock outcroppings, and the rounded, open rock face summit of Glassy Mountain. This wooded trail is well maintained and moderately steep, with benches along the way for resting. Pack a picnic for your hike—you’ll want to sit and enjoy the views!
Tour a local apple farm
The terrain and climate of Henderson County are a haven for apples. Apples have been the traditional agricultural crop in the county, especially since World War II. Today, the tradition of honoring the local apple industry persists and dozens of local apple farms open themselves up to visitors each season. Roam the orchards, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and pick your own popular and heirloom varieties. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy a cup of fresh apple cider or a nice, warm apple doughnut while you’re there! Local farms often diversify their offerings, as well. Some offer other produce, from melons in the summer to pumpkins in the fall. Others offer preserves and fresh-baked goods. Whichever you choose, you know you’re bound to have a fun, family-friendly day and leave with bushels of fresh, locally grown and prepared goods.
See the views from Jump Off Rock
Laurel Park is a premier residential, retirement, and vacation area featuring spectacular views of the mountains above and valleys below. One of the most popular attractions in Laurel Park is Jump Off Rock, and for good reason! This scenic overlook offers a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah National Forest. Several short hiking trails are also accessible from the 3,100-foot summit. Jump Off Rock is named for a 300-year-old Cherokee legend. Legend has it, when a young maiden heard that her lover had been killed in battle, she jumped off that very cliff. On moonlit nights, some people can spot her ghost at that spot looking for her lover. Whether you visit for nature, romance, or intrigue, you’re sure to enjoy the views!
Fish Mills River
With the abundance of natural rivers and springs running through the region, fly fishing is a big deal in WNC. From dawn to dusk, Henderson County locals love visiting Mills River Park. The park extends behind city hall to the banks of Mills River. It has a 1.2-mile multi-use trail, dog park, playground, tennis courts, handicap accessible fishing pier, and canoe/kayak launch. According to our agent, Wes Hight, the area is among his favorite fishing spots. He says, “North Mills River, a delayed harvest fishery located between Asheville and Brevard, is home to a variety of types of water that can challenge both the novice and experienced angler.” Spend the day in the water, and enjoy the rest of the park once you’ve caught your fill. Nearby Sierra Nevada Brewery is a great destination for cold beverages after a long day of catching rainbow, brook, and brown trout.
Live Abundantly outdoors in Henderson County, NC
Henderson County has a rich outdoors scene. But locals also appreciate it for its diverse population of people of all ages and from all walks of life. Of the five incorporated towns and cities, only Hendersonville, the county seat, possesses the typical characteristics of a dense urban center with significant population. From luxury homes in premier golf communities to homes within walking distance of revitalizing downtowns, homes in Henderson County are in high demand. It’s easy to find the best home and neighborhood to match your chosen lifestyle.
Does that sound like the perfect lifestyle for you? Find your dream home in Henderson County now!