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Banner Elk is one of my favorite towns to visit in North Carolina’s high country. Today I’m sharing with you our most recent visit to Banner Elk.
There is an area in my home state of North Carolina that I love more than any other. No matter what time of year any chance I get to escape to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the High Country I take it. Winter, spring, summer, and fall I love this beautiful area during all of them but I have to admit I am quite partial to the fall. If we do nothing else the entire fall season, we always make at least a day trip to some of our favorite High Country towns.
Today I thought I would share with you our recent visit to Banner Elk this past week. When Derek and I started making frequent trips to the area we tended to stay in the Blowing Rock area the most. Every now and then we would drive through nearby Boone but that was about it.
A couple of years ago we started to explore the area more and over time we’ve really begun to love the other towns as well especially Banner Elk particularly because it happens to be where our favorite winery is located. It is also home to Lees-McRae College and within close proximity to the best skiing in North Carolina, Beech and Sugar Mountains. Anyone interested in visiting Grandfather Mountain will consider Banner Elk an ideal lodging location for such a visit.
This past week though we started our day off in Banner Elk to go hiking. Derek and I usually pick hiking trails that are close to the Blue Ridge Parkway but I was looking for something different this trip. I wanted something short and I really wanted to find a hiking trail with a waterfall. We loved our hike through Linville Falls a couple of years ago but it takes quite a bit of time.
After some research, I found a couple of possible trails and settled on Crab Orchard Falls. It’s a moderate 1.5-mile trail and it took us about a couple of hours to complete it at a leisurely pace. We did spend some time enjoying the beauty of the falls once we reached them and took a good amount of pictures.
There are some pretty steep inclines on this trail and one in particular in the beginning. I definitely only recommend this trail to those that are in decent shape and don’t have any mobility issues. The trail is not even and there are quite a few rocks that can be slippery when wet. I had a fairly easy time climbing up the inclines but I work out on a regular basis and do a lot of high-intensity cardio so I know that’s what kept me from getting winded. The trail does have some small benches placed along the path for any needed breaks.
The beauty of the trail is quite wonderful but is very quickly eclipsed once you arrive at the waterfalls. You’ll hear them before they reach your sightline. There is a wooden walkway that was built as an Eagle Scout project and it will help you descend the rest of the way to the falls.
The scenery is so lovely and very peaceful. We did go on a Wednesday so we had the trail to ourselves. We didn’t see anyone else until we were leaving when we came across a couple of hikers just arriving.
The entrance point to Crab Orchard Falls is next to a church and they will have signs directing you where to park. The address to give your navigation system is 122 Skiles Way and of course, that’s in Banner Elk, NC.
After our wonderful hike, we found ourselves quite famished. We decided to try out a local deli and take our sandwiches to go so we could enjoy a picnic at our favorite winery. This was actually the first time we tried a place in Banner Elk for food. Since we normally hike near the parkway Blowing Rock is right there and we often grab a meal at one of our many favorite restaurants there.
After enjoying a beautiful country road drive into town we arrived at Dunn’s Deli. We were warmly greeted on our arrival and perused their menu of tasty sandwiches. I chose the St Patrick which is grilled corned beef and muenster on rye bread. It is also filled with spicy deli mustard, horseradish, onions, lettuce, and potato salad. Derek selected the Big R Club on pumpernickel after being torn over so many delicious sounding options. We were thoroughly pleased with the wonderful food.
The deli itself is everything a small town deli should be. It’s fast-casual service where you order at the counter and they’ll call you when it’s ready. There is plenty of seating and a couple of coolers filled with drinks giving you quite a variety to choose from whether you want a soda or even a bottle of beer. The deli is decorated with local sports jerseys and kind of reminds me of the deli in the small town that I went to college in near Asheville. I’m sure the local students love going there to get a break from the cafeteria food every now and then!
Dunn’s Deli is located at 134 Main Street West in Banner Elk.
Once our food was ready we headed over to Grandfather Vineyard Winery and arrived just after they opened. This winery is quite a special place. Not only is the wine excellent but the location and beautiful scenery are what make it not just a wonderful glass of wine but an incredible experience.
Picnic tables and Adirondack chairs are placed next to the banks of the Watauga River that flows through the property. We always receive a warm welcome not just by those who run the winery but a couple of very lovable border collies. The winery does allow outside food as long as you make a purchase in their tasting room. There is a food truck that sells food but only on the weekends when there’s live music.
You can purchase wine by the glass, bottle, or even a flight. If it’s your first visit I recommend trying one of their tastings. You can choose from four different tastings, 4 whites OR 4 reds for $6, 5 sweets for $7, or the combination of 4 whites and 4 reds for $10. All the tastings do include a souvenir glass that you can take home with you.
Derek and I bought a bottle of the Harvest Moon Rosé on our latest visit. It’s a sweet muscadine wine but I like it because it’s not too sweet like some sweet wines can be. If you aren’t partial to wine, the winery has started making cider, too. I keep meaning to try it but I just love their wine so much!
Grandfather Vineyard Winery is located at 225 Vineyard Lane in Banner Elk.
Our day in High Country didn’t end there. We then headed over to Blowing Rock but you’ll have to wait until next week to hear about that portion of our day. Keep an eye peeled for Wednesday’s Best of post. I’ll be sharing a little video I took during our drive to the deli after hiking, there were definitely some beautiful leaf-peeping moments.
Banner Elk is a wonderful town to get to know and I’m taking every chance I get to do just that. I know you’ll love it no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
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