Rutherford Mountains Welcome Spring

In the northwest corner of Rutherford County, the Escarpment of the Blue Ridge suddenly rises up to 4,000 feet, from a much lower 900 feet around Lake Lure. The elevation change is dramatic, and the lack of development allows for unlimited vistas and unspoiled forests. Yesterday I toured around these little known mountains to see how a late Spring was putting its touches on them. You can judge for yourself.

The main north-south access is Bill’s Creek Road, which follows the original Cherokee trading path, which, when General Griffith Rutherford brought his troops through here in 1776, was renamed the Rutherford Trace. The eastern side of the road looks out over the Carolina Piedmont Plateau, but to the west and north, a long ridge of mountains runs from the South Carolina line to Linville Gorge, thirty miles to the northeast.

bills creek farmHomesteads and cattle pastures are scattered along the valley. In the far distance, above, you can see the Black Mountains, home to Mt. Mitchell and other peaks above 6,000 feet.

youngs mtnYoung’s Mountain, at 2,600 feet, dominates the horizon for two miles.

runbling baldRumbling Bald, and Mount Shumont, at 4,000 feet, create an impassable wall between here and Asheville to the west.

panoramaThe view across the Apple Valley Golf Course is always spectacular, but in Spring, the Kwansan Cherry trees add color under the mountains.

azalea hillFire red azalea surround the entrance to a cart tunnel on the golf course, with Kwansan Cherry in the background.

tunnelThe tunnel opens to the east side of the course.

buffalo creek houseLate 19th century farmhouses are protected by the traditional White Oak trees. Dogwood always find a special place in these historic gardens.

azalea yardAzaleas have flourished over many generations along Bill’s Creek Road.

dogwood ridgeForests of Loblolly Pine fill the valleys in this entire area. It’s the last place you’ll find them as you move west into higher elevations.

dogwood pondPastoral meadows and ponds abound under these pine forests.

Kwansan cherryThe Kwansan Cherry groves are the most impressive of all.

Pink MountainOak Mountain is the last peak at the north end of Bill’s Creek Road. The Redbud are is full bloom this week.


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