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What You'll See Along The Way

Asheville, North Carolina, with its vibrant downtown, dining and music is certainly the cultural center of the Appalachian Mountains.  Every July, Bele Chere, the largest festival in the southeast attracts as many as 300,000. Bonnie Raitt and Bob Dylan play the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, and Mikhail Baryshnikov has danced there. 

About 30 minutes north on I 26, a new road through ancient mountains, near the Tennessee state line, the Big Laurel River flows west through rural Madison County towards Hot Springs.

Driving along the winding river takes you back in time—the barns are wobbly but still standing and the rich bottomland grazed or gardened.  Organic farmers are valiantly attempting to rejuvenate agriculture, and many folks still get their water from pure mountain springs.

Wolf Branch breaks through a crack in the mountains heading for the river, leaving barely enough room for a road into your own secluded mountain cove.  Almost like a “naturally gated community,” there is only one private road in and the three or four families that have lived here for years know every car that passes.

With Wolf Branch on your right and an old Appalachian farm on the left, you pass a trout pond and begin your climb.  The entire “sunny side” of  the Mountain is yours—250 acres of protected land shared by just a few.

An exhaustive ecological survey has been done to map out and preserve your natural assets.  From views of distant mountains to tiny spring fed pools; the giant boulders, old growth trees, colonies of Trillium, Pink Lady Slipper and Ginseng; flocks of turkey and grouse are for everyone to enjoy.

Connected by over ten miles of hiking trails, you might run into a neighbor, but you might not—you might just find utter peace and quiet.

Imagine no noise but the breeze in the trees, water tumbling over stones; no lights to obscure the starry night.

In an area where you can enjoy outdoor activities such as golf, camping, canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting, skiing, horseback riding or mountain biking, trout fishing, or soak in natural hot springs, Wolf Mountain will be a retreat where the beautiful diversity of nature or a long distant view, might just be interesting enough; and the sounds of a stream, the rustle of a breeze, tree frogs and cicadas as you drift off to sleep, enough said, too.

Madison County

Madison county is considered the heart of the blue ridge.

We have found a secluded cove 15 minutes from a couple of lovely small towns quickly becoming cultural off-shoots of Asheville—itself the cultural center of the Appalachians. Marshall, the Madison County Seat, sits beautifully on the French Broad River while Mars Hill hosts the oldest college in western North Carolina. Between them you can find all the necessities as well as restaurants, farmers markets, music, art, and theater, and Asheville is only a little more than a half hour away. There are recreational activities all around—skiing, golf, paddling, and hatchery supported trout waters are just at the entrance to the cove. One of the few natural hot springs in these mountains is a few minutes west.
For more information about Madison County, Asheville and local businesses and happenings in the area, check out the links below:
Read the Asheville Event and Festival Calendar to learn what is happening in Asheville. Another good web page worth a visit is the City of Asheville Arts, Culture & Entertainment page.
View the interactive edition of the Asheville Official Visitor Guide online.
Founded in 1856, Mars Hill College is the oldest institution of higher education in Western North Carolina. The school is a private, liberal arts coeducational college with a Baptist heritage. It has a 180 acre main capus in Mars Hill, ith special facilities such as the Rural Life Museum, the Orchard Hill Folk Art Collection, the Weizenblatt Art Gallery, the Southern Appalachain Repertory Theatre, the Hester Retreat Center, the 1800 seat Moore Auditorium and the Southern Appalachain Center. Mars Hill College is home of the national champion Bailey Mountain Cloggers.
Hot Springs Resort & Spa is one of the few natural hot springs on the east coast. Relax in the waters of natural hot mineral springs in your own private hot tub. Open days and nights. Your mind, body and soul will feel rejuvinated after an hour long soak in our exclusive natural hot mineral springs enhanced by the serenity of an extraordinary setting.
315 Bridge Street
PO Box 428
Hot Springs, NC 28743
Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market
Mars Hill College
Off Dormitory Dr., near Pittman dining hall
Mars Hill, NC
Saturday 8am-1pm
Visit for current information on farmers markets in Mars Hill and Marshall and also buying direct and/or visiting the farms.

Outdoor Adventures

Sundays on the Island
Cross the river at the Courthouse on Main Street
Marshall, Madison County
Sun 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Starts April 20, 2008
Rock N Water
Joshua T. Davis
424 Wolf Laurel Rd.
Mars Hill, NC 28754
60 Susanna Cove Rd.
Mars Hill, NC 28754
Cell: 828-712-6926
Rock N Water Adventure Outpost provides guided whitewater rafting, fly fishing, oar rig fishing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding for individuals, familes and groups.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
River Road
PO Box 398
Hot Springs, NC 28743
Lynn Frtiz Johnson
Hot Springs: 828-622-7260
Walnut: 828-649-9480
Rservations: 1-800-232-7238
Whitewater rafting on the French Broad and 5 other rivers in the SE. Adventure center - kayak instruction, biking, lodging. Since 1972 - experience, safety family-central!
Blue Heron Whitewater LLC
Sandy Melton
PO Box 516
Marshall, NC 28753
It is your trip! Whitewater rafting on the French Broad and 5 other rivers in the SE. Adeventure center - kayak instruction, biking, lodging. Since 1972 - experience, safety, family-central!
French Broad Rafting Expeditions
9800 US Highway 25/70
Marshall, NC 28753
Mitch and Michael Hampton, Owners
1-800-570-RAFT (7238)
Guide in every raft- guaranteed! Half day/Full day and clam water river trips available.
Huck Finn River Adventures
Heath White
177 Bridge Street (Downtown)
PO Box 366
Hot Springs, NC 28743
Toll Free: 1-877-520-4658
Guided and unguided whitewater rafting trips, overnight and float trips.

Fowler Farms Sporting Clays

253 Fowler Farm Road
Hot Springs, NC 28743
Cline & Mary Ruth Fowler
828 622-7380
828 622-0177
Experience shooting a shotgun on a sporting clays course. The farm provides bird hunting from October 1 until March 31.


Interested in a round of golf? You have lots of choices: Asheville Municipal Golf Course, Etowah Valley Country club and Golf Resort, Maggie Valley Club, Mount Mitchell Golf Club, Reems Creek Golf Club, The Crowne Plaza Resort Golf Course.

Nearby Stables

Sandy Bottom Trail Rides

1459 Caney Fork Road
PO Box 1459
Marshall, NC 28753
Toll Free: 800-959-3513
828 649-3464
Jackie Ball
Full service horse activities, 2, 3, 4 hour and all day rides, overnight camping, wagon rides all with breathtaking views.
Gunning, in case things get too laid back at The Retreat.


Neighborhood Studio, LLC
Deborah Rikoon, Kristen Derrick, Lisa Mandle
115 Blanahassett Island, Room 208, Marshall, NC 28753
Mail: PO Box 434, Marshall, NC 28753
(828) 649-2371
Neighborhood Studio offers daily classes for children, youth and adults in Yoga, NiA, Dance and Tai Chi. Located in downtown Marshall on the Island.

Medical Clinics

Mars Hill Medical Center
119 Mountain View Road, Mars Hill
828 689-3507

Mashburn Medical Center

590 Medical Park Road, Marshall
828 649-3500 
Fax: 828 649-3786