During a time when we’re all looking for safe adventures in smaller towns with outdoor activities, Hendersonville, N.C., checks all the boxes. Located just south of Asheville, this Blue Ridge Mountain town is surrounded by Pisgah National Forest. Hendersonville’s vibrant downtown and creative culinary scene combine with its natural setting to make for a well-rounded destination.
Go full throttle at The Gorge Zipline. Billed as the steepest, fastest zipline in the country, the experience includes 11 ziplines, a sky bridge, and three rappels. As you cruise through the treetops, enjoy the pristine view of 18,000 acres of preserved Green River game land.
Hit the trail at the brand new Ride Kanuga mountain bike park. Founded by world-champion downhill racer Neko Mulally, the park features 12 downhill-specific trails suitable for all ability levels. Located on 1,400 acres at Kanuga Camps & Conference Center, the park’s trails descend from Wolf Mountain through old-growth forest.
Book a spacious room at Cascades Mountain Resort. Kids delight in the indoor pool with a 110-foot water slide, while adults enjoy the secluded hot tub. The hotel’s Old Orchard Tavern has a full bar serving craft spirits and an award-winning chef who wows diners with well-executed nightly specials.
Take an informative hike at Holmes Educational State Forest. What was once a nursery developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s is now a living classroom with five miles of trails, including the “talking trees” trail that educates hikers about different species and their uses.
Earn your pint of beer aboard Hendersonville’s pub cycle. HVL Pedal & Brews books tours to downtown breweries and tasting rooms. Five breweries lie within pedaling distance. Those averse to cycling shouldn’t fret—an electric motor will kick in if you give out.
Downtown Hendersonville is home to 25 independently owned restaurants. Choose from authentic Italian, funky tapas, traditional Carolina ’cue or farm-to-table fare that showcases some of western N.C.’s finest producers. For a nightcap, head to the rooftop bar at Shine or The Poe House, a cozy spot that’s a favorite of locals.
When Hendersonville was established in the 1840s, one of its founders decreed that Main Street should be wide enough to turn around a wagon pulled by four horses. That early planning continues to serve the city well. Today the curvilinear Main Street is pedestrian friendly with public art, outdoor dining areas and flowering brick planters.
Cover photo: At Ride Kanuga, start at the top of Wolf Mountain and choose one of 12 trails — from beginner to expert — to reach the bottom. photo courtesy Ride Kanuga