Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lonesome Valley - Yosemite of the East / Cashiers, N.C.

Logan Creek brown trout caught on fly at Lonesome Valley

When turning into the Lonesome Valley property in Cashiers, the manicured lawn and hillside trees are in full view. A 27-acre conservation easement is in place to guard the integrity of this entrance, and is just a hint at the great care taken to conserve green space. A box canyon with a granite cliff dominates one’s view from that point on, and Lonesome Valley sets a great example for controlled development amid the natural diversity found in these mountains.
The Jennings Family has owned this 700-acre property for decades, and the land used to serve as farming operations for things like minks and then trout. Eventually, the trout farming business was relocated to Waynesville, where Sunburst Trout Farm thrives today. Setting a grand example for other private landowners deciding to develop, the family decided in 2005 to limit the number of homes and maximize the conservation approach.
Canyon Kitchen Restaurant at Lonesome Vally underneath Cow Rock

At an elevation of 3486-feet, the Cashiers area offers plenty of stunning views, and quite a few of them involve granite cliffs. One local called this area the Yosemite of the East, and Lonesome Valley is home to the largest of these escarpments. “Cow Rock is part of the largest vertical granite face in the Eastern U.S. and is 1200-feet from top to bottom,” said Thomas Bates. “Rock climbers frequent this rock face and there are several routes along the chiseled perpendicular groves that have been carved by eons of erosion.”
Another force at work in nature is the march of the woolly adelgid and its blight upon Hemlock trees. Lonesome Valley is replanting Norway spruce trees in affected areas, one part of the comprehensive management plan designed to attract a conservation buyer. There are miles of hiking trails, many of them adorned with flame azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Feeder creeks and running water is a constant theme since this area averages over 100-inches of rain per year, and a strong storm did hit during my visit, giving a brief hint of being in a rainforest.

Click for Field Notes from Cashiers, N.C.
Amenities open to members and to the public include the Canyon Spa at Lonesome Valley and the Canyon Kitchen featuring Chef John Fleer. Electing to dine at Canyon Kitchen I can report that the weather allowed for both a fire in the fireplace and for the wrap-around doors to be flung open to better enjoy the pastoral view. The three-course menu included a Duo of Crab starter and a Rosemary Seared Lamb T-bone with a fun Georgia blueberry fry pie for dessert.

Cashiers, N.C. is home to several eating establishments. Some are brand new like Table 64, while others are established like the venerable High Hampton Inn and Country Club, and don't forget Cornucopia. Besides dining out, part of the charm of Lonesome Valley is that once there, the reasons to depart for other endeavors seem to diminish. Simple living in a healthy environment is the draw, and that message resonates with those who seek time in the outdoors.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.

To view a past blog entry about the N.C. Fly Fishing click Jackson County or Hazel Creek or Rivercourse.

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