I graduated from Appalachian State University in December 2016, having taken full advantage of my bonus semester in this mountain town, holding two degrees and completely unsure of what my next move would be as I left the high country . I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of my four (and a half) years in the western part of the state, and I think my penchant for skipping class and exploring the surrounding area uniquely qualifies me to write this pseudo-guide to the vicinity of Kidd Brewer Stadium. , colloquially known as “The Rock”, where our Tar Heels will take the first real road test of the season.
I also want to preface any recommendations I make by saying that the Boone that Carolina fans are going to visit in 2022 is very different from the Boone that I remember. The ensuing years of growth and change have made parts of the city almost unrecognizable to me, and as such I can fail to recommend a new warmth; apologies in advance. Likewise, some of my old haunts may no longer exist in the form I remember – time and pandemics have a way of changing the face of a college town, but some things don’t change; I’ll start there.
I hope the weather is good this weekend, and not just because I want to see good football on Saturday. Summer in Boone is a wonderful thing, and anyone traveling on the 421 north from Chapel Hill will enjoy a welcome break from the blistering Piedmont heat. The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so my first recommendation is to keep an eye on Ray’s Weather forecasts. Ray’s Weather Center has been the go-to source for High Country weather since before I was in school, so much so that the hotel chain I (briefly) worked for in Blowing Rock printed daily forecasts from Ray’s Weather. for the reception each morning. . What I mean is that it’s generally reliable and the Golf-O-Meter is cute and easy to read.
Weather permitting, many of the hikes in the area are easy and rewarding. Rough Ridge has a trailhead off Blue Ridge Parkway, just past mile marker 302 (if coming from Boone), and really charges the view after a fairly easy climb. It’s a popular hike so the parking lot can get crowded, but it’s close enough to Boone that it’s worth coming back later in the day if it’s packed. Also, a short jaunt further up the boardwalk and over the beautiful Linn Cove Viaduct, you can find the Beacon Heights Trail, another fairly easy walk through the woods with great views for a reward. Both of the aforementioned trails are free, but for any heels looking to buy a ticket, Grandfather Mountain is a great stop for the whole family, where you can cross the mile-high bridge and see bears on your terms (important when dealing with local megafauna).
Speaking of wildlife, if fishing is more your gear, I would recommend a few other spots close to the boardwalk and easy to get to. The exact locations of these lakes can be found elsewhere on the internet, and despite my best efforts, this is not a fishing blog, so I’ll skip the coordinates and simply list them below with my experiences:
- Price Lake—just off Blue Ridge Parkway; can’t miss it. I caught lots of sunfish and a few nice trout in this lake, but there is quite a bit of pressure so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to walk around the lake a bit on the trail. It’s a nice walk even if the fish don’t bite.
- Trout Lake – oddly enough I’ve never caught trout here, but I’ve spent many summer hours playing with bass and sunfish which can be found in the waters around some of the fallen trees.
- Bass Lake – another commonly recommended lake with a great view of Cone Manor. I’ve always had bad luck here and removed her from my spot rotation after she was frustratingly smothered by water lilies; probably a better angler would have better results.
- Watauga River – believe it or not, I got college credit to take a fly fishing course, where I learned that the waters of the Watauga River are a great place to catch trout of different types. There are several access points, but shore fishing is probably easier from somewhere like Valle Crucis Community Park, where the river is nice and wide.
On the inside
As a Tar Heel fan in Boone, any bar or restaurant will generally be considered hostile territory. That’s not to say people will be rude, or that you can expect trouble at any of these places, but more that you’ll never eat or drink more than a few feet away from something black and white. ‘gold. Appalachian State is a fundamental part of the city of Boone, and Boone is squarely an Appalachian State city in turn. Speaking of which, my first recommendation for a visiting fan is to grab a drink at Appalachian Mountain Brewery. AMB is popular with students and Boone residents alike, and may even be a familiar sight if you frequent the beer aisles of Harris Teeter in Chapel Hill. I would recommend the Boone Creek Blonde, as I like a lighter beer, or try one of the cider options they have on tap – it’s hard to go wrong.
To date, the best garlic knots I have ever had were from a pizzeria called Capone’s. Previously, this place was located a short walk from campus on King Street, Boone’s answer to Franklin, which was a problem for a freshman with a limited food budget but a strong hunger for pizza and beer. Now, these garlic knots and the pizza that comes with them can be found in the mall near the movie theater, just off the 421 that comes to Boone.
Another must-try place to eat is Come Back Shack, an aptly named fast food joint with plenty of drive-thru. Recent reports from former classmates have indicated that the menu has changed slightly to meet demand, but the burgers are still very good and the Come Back sauce is hard to beat. Come Back Shack is just off Blowing Rock Rd, if you are heading from the Appalachian State Campus towards Blowing Rock. Order buffalo-style fries or an Oreo milkshake, or both, if you feel like it.
Every time I leave the mountains, I always find myself wishing I had more time. There’s a lot to see and do, more than any blog post worth reading. While I won’t be making the trip to the mountains to cheer on my two teams in person this weekend, I hope any Tar Heel faithful who find Boone have a wonderful time at my home away from home. I’m very lucky to have called these two college towns home at different times in my life, and I hope I was able to share some of the love I have for the mountain town of Boone with my friends. of Chapel Hill.
In the mountains or in the hill, it’s always a good day to be a Tar Heel.