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Archive for April, 2012

Soco Falls – An Easily-Missed Cherokee Treasure

Driving the serpentine US-19 from Cherokee to Maggie Valley across Soco Gap requires a driver’s undivided attention, which explains why so many never notice the small sign that says “waterfall .5 mile” (which means ‘keep driving another half-mile’). UPDATE: New, more informative signs have been installed.

It’s also easy to miss the gravel roadside pull-off with space for maybe a half-dozen vehicles. But that’s where you’ll find Soco Falls, a beautiful double waterfall where two separate branches meet for spectacular 40 and 50 foot drops into a dark gorge.

The short trail starts at the break in the guardrail and descends about a hundred feet over some steps to the viewing platform. Some people scramble down the bank to the base of the falls, but it’s extremely steep and not recommended.

Soco Falls is on the Qualla Boundary about eleven miles east of Cherokee, on your right. Coming from Maggie Valley, the pull-off is 1.5 miles west of the Blue Ridge Parkway, on your left.

The photo is by Rich Stevenson, an Asheville photographer with a passion for Western North Carolina waterfalls. If you love waterfalls, Rich’s website NCWaterfalls.com is a must-see.

For more about waterfalls in the NC Smokies, visit this page on GreatSmokies.com


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A Mild Spring Means Strawberries in Mid-April

Normally, we expect locally-grown strawberries to ripen in time for Mothers Day in mid-May. But this year’s mild Spring brought the berries to market about a month earlier. Above, Jennifer Cooper of Bryson City (left) and Marta Laksa of Cherokee sample freshly-picked berries at Darnell Farms, just east of Bryson City on Highway 19. Darnell and the Shelton Family Farm on Thomas Valley Road in Whittier are two local growers where you can pick your own or purchase containers of berries.

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A 4H Project Starts Scores of Home Gardens in the Smokies

Lyndsay Taylor brought her 4-H project to Whittier’s ‘Green Thumb Fest’ on Saturday — a few hundred starter plants that the teenager grew from seeds in a 4-H greenhouse. Above, Regina Swimmer of Cherokee selects one of Lyndsay’s hanging baskets. Other choices included cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, pepper and flowering plants.

If you missed the Whittier festival, Lyndsay has plenty more plants for sale at the Lyntree 4-H Greenhouse at 995 Needmore Road — next door to the Maple Springs Baptist Church, about a mile off US 74. Lyndsay says “if I’m not there, just select your plants and pay on the honor system.” For information, call 488-3934.

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The Clingmans Dome Visitor Center is the Highest in the Eastern US

Clingmans Dome is not only the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s one of the Park’s most heavily-visited sites. To better accommodate Clingmans’ heavy traffic, the National Park Service recently made a number of upgrades to the mountaintop facilities.

The original comfort station, constructed more than 60 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corp, was renovated and converted into a seasonal information center (above). It also houses a bookstore/sales area managed by the non-profit Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), which funded the renovation project. At 6300 feet, it’s the highest elevation national park visitor center in the eastern U.S.

A new comfort station consists of three sets of vault toilets installed at the west end of the parking area designed to accommodate all visitors, including those with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Dillsboro’s Quirky Easter Hat Parade Is Next Saturday

“For in your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade” — Irving Berlin (1933)

“Grandest”? Not necessarily. In Dillsboro’s annual Easter Hat Parade, participants are more likely shooting for the “funniest”, the “most unusual” or the “most outrageous”.

Led by a fleet of restored antique cars, followed by the many hat contestants and featuring the Easter Bunny, the parade begins in front of the Town Hall on Front Street and circles the two-blocks of downtown Dillsboro.

Awards are announced after the Parade. Ribbons are given for the Prettiest, Funniest, Largest, Smallest, Most Unusual, Most Easter-like, Best Smelling, Cutest, Most Outrageous, Best In Show and “Poofiest” hats among other unusual categories. There is even a ribbon awarded to the Best Animal in Show!

At 10:30 AM Dogwood Crafters will offer assistance making hats. And every half-hour beginning at 10:30, there’ll be egg hunts for different age groups across the street from Dogwood Crafters.

Feeling creative? Make a hat and join the parade.

Dillsboro Easter Hat Parade
Saturday, April 7, 2 PM
Downtown Dillsboro
Contestant registration begins at 11 AM

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