Explore the First Peak of the Blue Ridge during the BBQ

Published 12:48 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome to the First Peak of the Blue Ridge and thanks for coming our way for a great weekend of BBQ and music. If this is your first visit to the BBQ festival (or your tenth) and you havent explored the areas around the festival, we just want you to know that youre missing out!

Harmon Field is surrounded by rich beauty, history, serenity and adventure, so you can choose the best way to soak up our local charm. Weve got the gorges, hiking trails, birding, waterfalls, scenic drives and historic small towns youd expect in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But youll also discover equestrian shows, wineries, distinctive shops & galleries, and a busy events calendar.

While youre here, we invite you to rest and rejuvenate for the night or a long weekend. Weve got 13 inviting inns, more than 40 vacation cabins/cottages, plus hotels and campgrounds. Youre sure to find a place thats just your style.

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While all three of our small towns are great gathering places, each has its own style. Tryon is known for its bustling arts community and equestrian history. Saludas downtown historic district features one-of-a-kind shops and galleries. Columbus is known for its history and restaurants. All feature live music, events and festivals throughout the year. So walk the streets, visit with the locals at the general store or the coffee shop, enjoy a great meal and relax.

No matter how you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, weve got a colorful spot for you. Our most-loved scenic attraction is Pearsons Falls, a 268-acre native forest where a short trail leads to a rushing, 90-foot waterfall. The Green River, just east of Saluda, offers many ways to enjoy the water. Choose easy-going tubing rentals or top-notch guided kayaking trips for all levels, or try your hand at fly fishing.

Our hiking fits any level from easy trails at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) in Tryon to six-mile mountainous treks along the Poinsett Passage, which starts in Saluda.

This area has a long history of grape growing and we are experiencing a rebirth in vineyards. More than a dozen dot our rolling countryside.&bsp; Not to be missed are our two wineries Rockhouse Vineyards and Green Creek Winery. Both are located in the Green Creek area and offer tours, tastings and spots to picnic. You can easily visit both in an afternoon.

As youve probably already noticed, music is a big part of life at the First Peak. In addition to the BBQ festival, there are a number of other free, outdoor music concerts and festivals throughout the year. Tryons Summer Tracks concert series starts Friday, June 18 at Rogers Park and continues throughout the summer.

Tryons music heritage runs deep its the birthplace of Nina Simone, a singer and musician known internationally as the high priestess of soul. A bronze sculpture of her seated at her piano was dedicated this spring on Trade St. in downtown. Stop and take a picture seated next to her.

Take the scenic way home, enjoying the best of our natural beauty as you cruise by car, motorcycle, or even bicycle. Take the Pacolet River Scenic Byway (Hwy. 176), which is just west of Harmon Field, and wind your way up to Saluda where you can easily connect with I-26. Drive through the lush horse farms of Hunting Country in Tryon or past the vineyards of Green Creek.

Stop by our display at the chamber of commerce tent in the center of the festival for maps and brochures, or pick them up at our visitor center at the first traffic light in Columbus as you head out.

If youd like personal help planning your visit, just give the First Peak Visitor Center a call at 800-440-7848 or send an e-mail to visit@firstpeaknc.com. Were open Monday Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. And, of course, you can always visit our website for our full events calendar and everything you need to plan your next visit: www.firstpeaknc.com. While youre there, sign up for our e-newsletter to receive monthly updates on our latest news and events.

We look forward to seeing you again soon. Enjoy!