The Smoky Mountains are home and inspiration to hundreds of artists. Across Western North Carolina visitors can find handmade crafts at a number of studios and galleries, and now the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is connecting visitors to these cultural resources through a network of craft trails.
The initiative is called the Blue Ridge Craft Trails, a series of curated driving trails throughout the region featuring 200 craft sites. Travelers can use craft trail itineraries for tips to round out their craft-hunting experiences with nearby foods, breweries, wineries, music, outdoor activities, and scenic views.
Handmade Craft in the Smoky Mountains
The Craft Trails highlight artists across a wide variety of mediums including ceramic arts, weaving, glass blowing, jewelry making, bead work, and fabric arts. All crafts featured are handmade by artists who live in Western North Carolina.
Travel Along the Blue Ridge Craft Trails
Information on the Craft Trails can be found on the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s website. It includes filters to help you explore the craft mediums that interest you the most, or you can see all of the craft opportunities in a given region or town. New towns and experiences are being added to the trails system and by 2021 it will connect 25 counties that make up Western North Carolina.
Here are some curated itineraries to get you started.
- Explore long carved paths at the John C. Campbell Folk School and Brasstown.
- Visit the leafy towns of Murphy and Andrews
- Follow ancient notes in Hayesville
- See the preservation of age-old Cherokee craft traditions that are taught to each new generation.
About the Blue Ridge Heritage Area
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, designated by Congress in November 2003, works to protect, preserve, interpret, and develop the unique natural, historical, and cultural resources of Western North Carolina for the benefit of present and future generations. National Heritage Areas encourage residents, non-profit groups, government agencies, and private partners to work together in planning and implementing programs that preserve and celebrate America’s defining landscapes.
Look here for other arts and crafts adventures in the Smoky Mountains.
Featured image: Joe Waldroup Woodworks in Hayesville.
Top image: Carmen Haynes at Pine Needles and Things in Brasstown.