We love the mountain town of Sparta, NC. It’s quite small, with a very local, not at all touristy feel. The area around it is a beautiful mix of rolling, rural farmland and Blue Ridge Mountains. The surrounding countryside is especially beautiful during the fall when the leaves change colors.
What to Do
- Stone Mountain State Park – Roaring Gap, NC ($0) – Stone Mountain State Park is home to a massive 600-foot granite dome designated a National Natural Landmark, and the historic Hutchinson Homestead, a restored mid-19th-century farm at the base of the mountain. This Park has great trails, beautiful waterfalls, winding creeks, bountiful trout streams, picnic areas and campsites.
- Stone Mountain Loop Trail – (4.5 miles, 938’ elevation). There are a ton of stairs but it’s a beautiful hike that takes you by a big cascade, the historic homestead with information about the history of the area, and up to the top of the dome where you’ll find epic views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The Top of the Dome – a beautiful place to watch the sunset but there are only a few weeks a year that the park is open late enough, and the sun sets early enough, that you can be up there to watch the sunset and also make it down to the parking lot in time for closing. For reference, it took us about 35 minutes to hike down from the top of the dome to the upper parking lot. Check when the park closes, when the sun will set, and plan accordingly. We used these headlamps to help find our way down and they worked really well.
- Widows Creek Falls – (0.2 miles total out and back). There is a small parking area at the trailhead. This is a beautiful waterfall with a deep pool and a sliding rock into another pool at the bottom.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway – is less than 10 minutes from town. It’s got quite a different feel than some of the more western North Carolina stretches, with fields and traditional fencing mixed in with more mountainous areas. It’s interesting to see homes and farms so close along either side. Little Glade Mill Pond is a great place for a picnic, and there are quite a few beautiful overlooks to stop at, many with nuggets of information about the history of the area. Brinegar Cabin is a great stop. You can see where the original owners lived off the land on this farmstead for nearly 60 years. Apparently their 3 children still come by often to visit their former home.
- The Doughten Recreation Area – Blue Ridge Parkway, Traphill, NC. Here you’ll find beautiful views, picnics areas, 30 miles of hikes including the Mountain-to-Sea trail and a very cool, rustic looking lodge with one heck of a view. This looks like a great place to stay and play during the season.
- Muddy Creek Cafe and Music Hall – Old Timey Music, Sunday Brunch and Cafe, downtown. You can get a snack and a beverage while you listen to Blue Grass and Old Tyme Music or try Square Dancing, Clogging and Line Dancing on Saturday night.
Where to Stay
- The Allegheny Inn – Sparta, NC. $182/2 nights. Some of the furniture is a little bit older but it’s very clean and comfortable and has all the important updates. We’ve stayed here a couple of times now and the last time we were there, they let us check in at 1 pm, a wonderful added perk. They also gave us a postcard of the hotel which seemed like a sweet, old fashioned touch.
Where to Eat
- Tex-Mex Riverside Cafe – Latin Food, Sparta, NC. It’s some of the best Latin food we’ve ever had and feels very authentically homemade. I’d especially recommend the cantaloupe smoothie – I’ve never had anything like it and it was delicious!
- Becca’s Backwoods Bean Cafe – They have what they call a Farmer’s Pantry featuring locally grown and produced foods, coffee, delicious baked goods, arts and crafts and more.