Black Mountain's Serene Secret Hide-a-way
Do you ever want to just get away from it all? We all need a break every once and awhile, but I live in paradise where beautiful views abound, so what’s a girl to do? Head to the luscious mountains of western North Carolina, of course! I won’t lie, when the hazy blue tip-tops of the mountains first come into view, I become giddy. On this particular trip to the Inn at Mill Creek, my mom and I headed northwest for a girls’ weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day. We had no idea what this fabulous weekend had in store.
Our Secret Hideaway: The Inn on Mill Creek
Our weekend began at the scenic Inn on Mill Creek. Tucked away between Black Mountain and Old Fort, NC, the Inn is only two miles off the interstate. To get there requires slowing down and enjoying a leisurely climb up a long, gorgeous, gravel road, winding through the Pisgah National Forest. This serene forest nudges you to take a moment and just breathe. As we turned the last corner, the Inn on Mill Creek stood on a small hill overlooking seven acres of tranquility. Owners and innkeepers Dave and Bridgette Walters greeted us. I felt like I already knew Bridgette, as we had been conversing for weeks, planning the perfect Mother’s Day weekend for my mom. She took us on a tour of the beautiful home and cabin, gardens and solarium.
Situated between two laurel-covered ridges—Bernard Mountain and Horse Ridge—The Inn on Mill Creek, originally a private home, was first converted into a bed and breakfast in the ‘90s and expanded in 2001, when the Walters bought it. The Inn now consists of six rooms with newly renovated bathrooms, including one pet-friendly room with a private entrance and two child-friendly rooms. Surrounded by a variety of peaceful garden spaces, which are carefully cultivated by Bridgette, visitors are treated to a “pugg garden,” walking labyrinth, perennial and herb garden, apple orchard, and my favorite, the Zen garden in the solarium. The Inn has two buildings, the main house and deckhouse, each with three guest rooms. We stayed in the charming Maple Tree Room in the deckhouse. The 400 square foot, spacious interior featured a wood-stove inspired gas fireplace, private double-vanity bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and gorgeous tiled shower. It also had a cozy sleeping loft for an additional guest and sliding doors leading out to a shared deck, which overlooked a pretty pond. The deckhouse offers a full kitchen for guests’ use.
While Dave and Bridgette may be the brains behind the operation, their three “innpugs” are the celebrities. Bugsy, Csaba (pronounced Chubba) and Roscoe are the resident innpugs, who greet dog-loving guests with a happy wiggle. They even have their own page on the Inn website—www.innonmillcreek.com/innpugs.
Explore: You don’t have to go far to enjoy plenty of wonderful activities, but the closest is the Inn itself! The Inn is one of the few private properties on the NC Birding Trail (Mountain Region) and a “sweet spot” for birding enthusiasts with more than 100 species. Their frequent flyers include the Indigo Bunting, Carolina Chickadee, Swainson’s Warbler and Whip-Poor-Will. Birding lists are offered to guests for a fun activity and private tours for non-guests with reservations. The Inn also has furry friends come visit, invited or not, like the groundhog, currently featured on the Inn blog in his battle against Bridgette’s herb garden, and resident squirrels that put on a show outside the solarium during breakfast each morning. The Inn is right up the hill from mountain bike trails, as well as, two forest service access roads, which double as a great walking path. Also within easy driving distance are miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, Black Mountain and Old Fort, NC.
Our first day, we decided to visit the Black Mountain farmers’ market to grab some fresh veggies. The mountain soil produces amazing crisp lettuce, my fav! We then headed over to Catawba Falls in Old Fort. Mom and I had never hiked to a waterfall, so we decided today was the day! After researching the various falls within reach and talking with Bridgette, we decided a 2.5 mile round trip, moderate hike was the perfect fit for us. After some wet crossings and a little longer hike than expected, we both stood in awe of the wondrous Catawba Falls. There is nothing like it. In fact, I kept trying to take pictures to capture it, but none of them caught its grandeur. I recommend this hike to anyone in the area. Here are a few tips if you head that way: 1. Look for “flares” on trees to help with directions, as this is a fairly new trail. 2. Bring a dry pair of shoes for after the hike. 3. Allow plenty of time to spend at the waterfall, bring a good book, sit and enjoy.
The Inn offers plenty of relaxation space to enjoy. The rock facade main house offers a two-story great room with floor-to-ceiling windows and comfy couches with a projection TV, a movie library, board games, library loft, and outdoor decks with a large fire pit for cool nights.
I’ve saved the best for last…we talked about the gardens—Bridgette’s territory and love, now for Dave’s—the kitchen! Dave excels in creating hearty, inspired breakfasts for his guests every morning. Our first morning we arrived for early breakfast in the solarium Zen garden, where the table was beautifully set with a fresh-squeezed, orange juice concoction and stuffed French toast, eggs, bacon and fruit. And, don’t expect the same thing the next day, Dave whipped up a savory quiche, hand-made turkey sausage balls and heavenly pumpkin bread for Sunday’s breakfast. The breakfasts were one of my favorite parts, offering guests time to talk, gather suggestions on activities and an opportunity to interact with Bridgette and Dave, who freely give their suggestions on favorite activities, restaurants and scenic views.
Que Sera Restaurant
When we asked Bridgette where to dine on Friday night she pointed us straight to Que Sera and had our reservation ready when we checked in. Located in the historic, 120-year-old Junction Building, nestled by the railroad tracks in historic downtown Black Mountain, Que Sera is a culinary gem—an eclectic fine dining atmosphere, with a menu, which inspires taste buds to do a happy dance. Owned by Carl and Janie Tayloe, Que Sera is their dream realized. As restaurant veterans, they have worked all over the South in some of the country’s finest establishments and have turned their combined experience into a friendly, upscale, southern restaurant with a rustic New Orleans inspired feel. The menu offers an array of delectable small plates, salads and entrees—all made from the finest, freshest ingredients around. The filet, which we had to try, is famed as one of the best in Black Mountain (we agreed), along with Red Snapper, a customer favorite. They have inventive daily specials, so there is always an opportunity to try something new, based on the season. Chef Carl can be found charming his guests in the dining room, making sure everything is perfect. The Tayloe’s also have an oyster bar next door, which offers a more laid-back atmosphere. We ordered two small plates, beef Carpaccio and beet salad to get started, and split the amazing filet for an entree. Que Sera is a wonderful dining experience that should be on the top of your list for your visit.
Creative Mountain Food Tours: Ultimate Foodie Tour
As a self-professed foodie, I was excited when Bridgette helped us secure a spot on Creative Mountain Food Tour’s “Ultimate Foodie Tour” in Black Mountain. It is the best way to explore the numerous restaurants in town and taste their best beverage and culinary offerings, all while learning about the history of the restaurants and town. Another perk: One price and without having to choose just one. This is a must-do! Owned by husband and wife, Len and Sandi Eskew, Creative Food Tours is a dream come true—a tasty experience that shares their love for the outdoors, unique cuisine, supporting local businesses and helping to create experiences that will be remembered for years to come.
The tour group, made up of locals and tourists, gathered at Merry’s Wine Market to start off in style. How you ask? With Champagne and a toast, of course! We visited Black Mountain Bakery, Louise’s Kitchen, The Red Rocker Inn, Dark City Deli & Pub and Que Sera. Each was ready for us with beautifully set tables of food and drinks for us to indulge. Beware; the serving sizes are gracious…and delicious! Each establishment talked with us about their history and cuisine and educated us on many of their techniques, which make them unique. My favorite dishes were the BLT and apple cider at Dark City Deli and the caramel pecan brownie a la mode at Que Sera!
This tour was fabulous! It covered both lunch and dinner for us that day, and we ended in historic downtown, where we shopped and walked off some of that food. If you are a foodie, or just love to eat, you must take this tour. There are three great tours to check out: Ultimate Foodie Tour, Pub and Grub Crawl and the Dessert Tour—yum! Private tours are also available. Sandi was a hospitable host, who kept the group at ease and happy. We all became friends, more and more after each stop and drink, ha-ha! Log on to www.creativemountainfoodtours.com or call 828-419-0590 and taste your way through town.
So have you stopped to log on to the Inn’s website and book your stay yet? I have been raving about this trip non-stop since I came back and I can assure you that you will relish your stay,
away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, in Black Mountain. Happy trails and I hope you fall…waterfall!
WHEN YOU GO
The Inn on Mill Creek
3895 Mill Creek Road, Old Fort, NC
101 Black Mountain Avenue, Black Mountain, NC
828-664-9472 Reservations suggested.
Creative Mountain Food Tours