Spruce Pine

Spruce Pine: Internationally known for the quality of the mica in its soil, Spruce Pine is also ground zero for one of the most highly regarded craft communities in the nation. Potters and other artisan wizards work in the hills and hollers that surround Mineral City, making Spruce Pine a prime base for hiking, touring, and studio-hopping.
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EAT Nate Allen thinks like farmers of old. Knife & Fork’s award-winning chef prepares seasonal dishes from what he buys at mineral-rich farms within a few miles of his downtown restaurant. Recently, that meant a house-made charcuterie board and an expertly grilled pork chop with braised cabbage and green apples. End or begin your meal in the restaurant’s companion bar, Spoon, for craft cocktails made from fresh tinctures and bitters and foraged herbs and berries. Knife & Fork, 61 Locust St.; (828) 765-1511; www.knifeandforknc.com; Spoon, 118 Oak Ave.; (828) 765-1511

SHOP Just down the street from Spoon is the Toe River Arts Council gallery and shop, home to Cynthia Bringle’s pottery, Lisa Clague’s sculptures, and Richard Ritter’s glass globes. Here you’ll find maps and directions to studios of renowned artists. (It’s best to call before you visit.) Near the gallery is Market on Oak, a shop that sells exquisite craft works by county residents laid off from manufacturing jobs. TRAC gallery, 269 Oak Ave.; (828) 765-0520; www.toeriverarts.org; Market on Oak, 262 Oak Ave.; (828) 765-0571; www.themarketonoak.com

STAY You could easily spend your entire weekend on the 400 acres of Springmaid Mountain, a rustic resort just outside of town. Hiking, fishing, and horseback riding make the return to your secluded cabin all the more welcome. The front porch of the five-bedroom lodge is a wonderful place to watch the horses graze in the pasture below.  2171 Henredon Rd.; (828) 765-2353;

PLAY Opened in October 2013 along a portion of the Overmountain Victory Trail that Patriot militia traveled in 1780 to the Battle of Kings Mountain, Rose Creek Trail is a pretty
2.6-mile round-trip hike through woods filled with birdsong and swaying ferns. Towering maples and oaks make this a glorious fall hike. Find the trailhead, six miles from town, across from Heffner Gap Overlook at milepost 325.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

While You’re There

Hands On the Wheel: Many of the area’s clay artists sell their work at Spruce Pine Potters Market, October 11 & 12. It’s free. 31 Cross St.; (828) 765-2670
Sip Local Suds: Dry County Brewing opened just after the county went wet and keeps six beers on tap. 585 Oak Ave.; (828) 765-4582
Enjoy a Slice: The Pizza Shop shares space with the brewery and makes a killer pesto pie. 585 Oak Ave.; (828) 765-4582


Photographs by Annelise Ferry; (4) by Paul Clark