Looking up at this mountain, all you see are trees. That’s exactly the way they want it to be.
It’s quiet. Granted, there is a humming diesel motor from the guys finishing the new amphitheater bathroom, but other than that, I feel like I’m in the woods. I can throw a rock into Pisgah National Forest from here. I love it!
Today I’m at Pilot Cove, just outside of Brevard, North Carolina with photographer and friend, Roman Rusinov. We’re here to meet the owners, take a tour of the property, and god willing, ride some bikes.
Upon arrival, we’re greeted by managing partners Collin O’Berry, Lane Lastinger, and his (giant) Great Dane puppy. Aptly named Zilla, she loved to lick your face when you crouched down to take a picture. We get a brief tour of the new amphitheater then hop into the side-by-side to explore the property. It’s a crisp and sunny March day, perfect weather for riding around in the woods.
The Birth Of A Dreamland
Former lawyers, Lane and his wife moved to North Carolina from Florida around three years ago. They wanted to do something different with their time but weren’t sure what. This is when they met Collin, their real estate agent. One year later, Pilot Cove was born.
Approaching their second year in business, Collin and Lane are raising the bar for accommodations in the area.
Put simply, Pilot Cove’s cabins are pretty damn luxurious, but in an outdoorsy way. “We want our guests to have the perfect combination of relaxation and being outside,” says O’Berry. They are rustic and modern, beautiful and rugged. Each cabin was designed with the land in mind. The location, views, and topography were all taken into account during construction.
Upon entry, there is a spacious mud room with lockers for gear. Coat hangers made from old spigot handles add to the rustic vibe. A washer and dryer are to your right and the bathroom is straight ahead. Walking into the great room, I was enamored by the natural lighting. Large sliding doors and windows bring the outside in. You feel like you’re in a treehouse. A really, really nice treehouse.
Out on the deck, there are a couple of chairs for lounging and hooks to hang your hammock. Every unit has a set of ENO Hammocks to use. Even though highway 280 and 276 are just down the mountain, I can only hear the leaves rattling in the wind.
Built on an Air BNB style booking system, guests let themselves in at their convenience. Cabin sizes range from smaller efficiency units to larger one and two-bed units. There are currently 10 cabins on the property with plans to add more in the future.
All of the cabins are consistent with design. From the construction to the decor, materials were sourced as locally as possible. Blending into the forest, no one stands out more than the other.
When asked about their clientele, “We’ve got a group coming from Barbados and Aruba,” says Collin. Lane adds, “A lot of folks come here from Canada during the winter months because we’re open year-round.” They have also hosted some celebrity guests, but if I told you who they were, you might get a visit from the cleaner.
Even the chickens have stellar accommodations here. Their coop automatically closes at night, keeping them warm and safe from predators. Guests are welcomed to pick fresh eggs from the coop for breakfast. There are beehives on the property that provide honey as well, but don’t try and harvest that yourself.
While Pilot Cove is centrally located near infinite recreation opportunities, they have a beautiful property as well (67 acres of it). We were taken on a tour of property’s boundary trail, crossing creeks, bridges, steep climbs, and some fun descents. U.S. Forest Service and state wildlife signs dot the trees along the trail, bordering one mile of Pisgah National Forest.
“Our goal was to have a minimal impact on the forested property. Efficient site design was a priority for sustainability and our intended guest experience. Plans at full build out call for only 17% of the property to be disturbed; the rest will remain in its natural state and will include trails.” – Collin O’Berry
On our trip along the boundary trail, we pass several springhouses, Lane drives up a steep and narrow path. After digging through some rocks, Collin pulls up a 50-year-old bottle of moonshine sealed in wax. One of the last remnants of an old still from decades ago.
At the top of the boundary trail sits Sunset Point, the only vista on the property. It’s tucked away from the cabins with some picnic tables and a firepit. The perfect place for an evening get-together.
Feeling The Flow
As mountain bikers, Roman and I were pretty stoked to see the flow track and get some tires in the dirt. Pilot Cove’s flow track is a great little session spot to enjoy some beers and biking. The track features whoops, water bars, a wooden berm, and a little tabletop in a continuous loop. It’s fast and fun! Collin and Lane brought in Todd Branham of Long Cane Trails to design and build the track. Todd is responsible for organizing some of the most prolific races in the region (ORAMM, Couch Potato, SWANK), and knows a thing or two about trail building.
Exploring Beyond The Cove
I spent the last year living in Brevard, NC, so I know the area pretty well. Pilot Cove is centrally located to everything. Literally, right at the entrance, you have a bike shop, bar, ice cream, food trucks, a brewery, bbq, a grocery store, and of course, Pisgah National Forest!
The Hub and Pisgah Tavern is a great bike shop with a bar and revolving food trucks. Next door is Dolly’s ice cream. Across the street, you have Hawg Wild BBQ and Ecusta Brewing. About 15 minutes down the road is Dupont State Forest. It’s 10 minutes to Downton Brevard, and about an hour to Asheville.
What’s Next For Pilot Cove?
Cut into the mountainside sits their incredible new amphitheater. Working with Chris Faulkner of Wheelhouse Builders, the used as much material from the land as possible in the construction. White Oaks felled for the clearing now support the roof. It’s absolutely beautiful. The first event they’re hosting is a wedding in May. After that, it will be open to the public for events like concerts, yoga gatherings, weddings, movie nights and more.
Future mountain biking guests will be happy to know that they are also planning to add more trails and tracks to the property.
The team at Pilot Cove are great folks. You can tell that their love for the area and passion for the outdoors really shines through in the place. A huge thanks to Lane and Collin for taking the time to show us around, and for the lunch at Magpie!
When you come to Western North Carolina, this is a place you want to stay. Speaking of, they offered to put us up for a night. We politely declined since we only live an hour away.
We should’ve stayed.
Justin Forrest is an outdoor writer, fly fishing addict, and co-founder of Narrative North—based in Asheville, N.C. He posts pictures of cats and fishing on Instagram sometimes.