Asheville, NC – Biltmore Estate

Yes, I know. We were just at Biltmore Estate yesterday. But, we were so excited over our annual passes and it was just so beautiful there, we decided to driver over again today.

Today we didn’t do any trails. We walked around in the walled garden area. Of course this time of year, not much blooming. We then headed up to the house. We still didn’t go in the house today. We enjoyed the views from South Terrace. We then walked around the house and just took photos. We then went and checked out the shops in the courtyard. After checking out the shops there, then headed over to Antler Hill Village. We checked out the shops there and then went into the winery.

Here are a few photos from our little stroll today.

Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC


Me posing underneath the famous posing tree


After you walk around the tree in previous photo, and walk through the gate, this is the view of rose garden and house through the trees in background.


Still a little blooming going on in the garden



Captured this bird through the limbs


View of house from shrub garden


View of the house from below South Terrace


These next 5 photos are different views from South Terrace


I used this photo because I captured a piece of the sun on the right side



View of the side of the house from South Terrace


Inside these windows is the circular staircase


Garden side entrance to conservatory

Asheville, NC – Biltmore Estate

We had talked on and off about getting annual passes to Biltmore Estate but we felt that it was still pretty pricey at over $300 for the both of us. When we found out that they were running a holiday special around Thanksgiving, we went to the visitors center, purchased our passes, and on into the estate we went. It was kind of late in the day so really all we got done today was exploring the conservatory, and going to the waterfall at Bass Pond.

So, we headed off to park near the conservatory. The first thing that we learned is if you are not going to park at one of the parking areas to go to the house, and want to head on to the conservatory, when you come to a couple of spots where people are directing traffic, you just turn on your blinkers and they wave you on through.

We found parking in the small parking area down below the conservatory. Below the conservatory there’s a very nice gift shop. After checking out the gift shop, we headed up into the conservatory. There are several sections to the conservatory. You have Palm House that houses palms, ferns, and other plants. You then have the hot house, the cool house, and the orchid house. 7,000 square feet of beauty. Here is some more information about the conservatory.

I was amazed out how many different colors of poinsettias that they had. They also had a great orchid room. And of course spread out throughout the conservatory there were other tropical plants, blooms, cactus, etc.

We then headed out of the conservatory (on the parking lot side) and went around the corner to the left and you could see where there is a crosswalk. Head down the steps and you are in the 15 acre azalea garden. You just keep on going straight and you eventually end up at bass pond. You can cross the little bridge and enjoy the gazebo around the corner. You then go just past the bridge and there will be a sign that directs you to Bass Pond Waterfall. It’s on the other side of the pond. On your way, you will have a great view of a beautiful brick bridge across the pond which is the main road. On your right, up on the hill, there is a huge meadow (I’ll post that walk in the future). When you get to the other side of the pond, there is a nice bridge where you can walk over the waterfall, which is water falling over a dam. We then headed down the hill to the waterfall. Not alot of water today. We then walked through some bamboo that was behind us, around a bend in the river, and back up the hill to hit the trail to take us back to the parking area. The walk ends up being easy and about a mile.

Here is a map of the gardens trails.

Also, here is a link to Biltmore’s website.

Here are some photos from today. Also, the twins were up this past week, so included a few photos of them.

Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC


The bottom story is the gift shop. The upper part is the conservatory.


Enjoy these next 14 photos from inside of the conservatory



You cross the road near this tree to go down into the azalea gardens. This tree was beautiful today and is huge. Lots of people do photos at this tree. 


There’s still a little fall color in the garden


Keep straight on the paved trail to go to the pond. Or, take the trail on the right. It’s a gravel trail that takes you across the creek a few times on wooden bridges and interesting rock bridges.


Red blooms falling off of a tree


The bridge as you arrive at Bass Pond. Go across the bridge to the gazebo.


Turn left right after the bridge to walk around the pond


The red brick bridge across the pond


Looking across the lake at the gazebo


The bridge above the dam and waterfall


It was late in the day, so was hard to get a good photo without the shadows from the trees and sun


The twins were up this past week. As you see, Eli has “mowed” the leaves nicely. Sawyer is loading them back into the truck and is going to make a mess. 


Sawyer getting ready for another load


Eli doing a great job mowing


Elizabethton, TN – Sycamore Shoals State Park

The twins were coming over later today, so needed to find a quick walk nearby. Headed over to Elizabethton to do this walk that we’ve done many times.

If you’re into history, here is some information about Sycamore Shoals.

The Mountain River Trail at Sycamore Shoals is short, easy, and 1 mile round trip. I have read a couple of places that it’s 2 miles round trip. But the sign at the trailhead says 1 mile round trip, and when you arrive back at the trailhead, there is a small sign that reads “1 Mile”.

Part of your walk is taken along the river. As you start out (facing the visitors center) head to the right of the visitors center and you will see up ahead a white crushed gravel trailhead. It’s a short walk to the river. The water in the river today was very low. We were able to walk further out into the river bed to take photos than we have ever been able to do. When you get to the far end of the park, you turn around and take the right fork as you are heading back. It takes you on a short walk through the woods / beside of a little creek. You eventually meet up with the main trail again. Got a couple of bird shots that I have included in my photos below. They aren’t all that great, but it was cool to get those shots since it’s so hard to get the birds to stay still long enough to get a shot.

Here is a map that shows trails.

Here are the photos from today. Of course since the twins were up today, we included a couple of them.

Address: 1651 W Elk Ave, Elizabethton, TN


As soon as you hit the trail, you have the fort area on your left


A bird that actually sat still long enough for us to get a shot


There was no generating today, so we were able to walk out onto the river

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Up-river view

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It’s been very dry lately, so we were able to stand in the middle of the creek that runs into the river

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I like this photo of a leaf in the still waters

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Halfway decent photo of a woodpecker

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The park has a sign that says you have now walked 1 mile


We’re at home now with the twins. Sawyer has been watching a little TV.


Eli on the little 4-wheeler that used to belong to my boys when they were young. As you can see, there’s a rope on the front. Daddy is pulling him with his big 4-wheeler. 


Asheville, NC – North Carolina Arboretum

For what is blooming just about any month at the arboretum, search internet by “ranger annette north carolina arboretum”. Since we are members, we definitely try to visit monthly.

This was our monthly visit to the arboretum. Wanted to see if there was still any Fall color or if anything was still blooming. There was a little Fall color still left, and a few blooms.

We also got in a walk today, but it was a pretty short one. Facing the exhibit center, we went down the steps to the left and took the left fork behind the exhibit center. We took Natural Garden Trail until we reached Running Cedar Road. Took this road to the right and ended up by the education center. Probably about a mile. The walk was easy, but if you’re not in shape, that hill up to the education center can be a little tough. After we got back up to the education center, we walked through the gardens and ended back at the exhibit center.

The exhibit center’s exhibit at this time was called “The World of Giant Insects”. Included a couple of insects in my photos below.

Here is a link to the arboretum map.

And here are a few photos from today.

Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC


Some remaining Fall color and blooms outside of the exhibit center


Red blooming tree at exhibit center entrance



Natural Garden Trail trailhead


Walking through the woods today. Seems a little hazy in the background.


Fence and color shot along the trail


Old fallen tree. Probably home to some little critters.


View of the trail up ahead


Back in the gardens and heading towards exhibit center. They have their Christmas tree up in the background.


The Butterfly Garden no longer has blooms, but now has Christmas lights


Blooms in a little pond


The last 2 photos are from the insect exhibit in the exhibit center




Clinton, SC – Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

On our way home from our Charleston trip, we wanted to stop somewhere and do a walk. This was our choice today. We picked up lunch and had a picnic before we started out on the trail. There is no admission fee for this park.

Musgrove Mill stands tribute to the bloody Battle of Musgrove Mill that took place here on August 19th, 1780. The battle is detailed through interpretive signage in the visitor center and along nature trails.

Our first trail was British Camp Trail. It’s a 1 mile loop. You are never very far from the visitors center. The trail starts below the visitors center and the 1 mile loop takes you around below the visitors center. It’s a pretty easy trail. The property that you are waking on was the property of the Musgrove family. There are signs that point out ruins of Musgrove House, and where the grist mill stood on the Enoree River. The river was so low that we could walk out onto the rocks on the river. We then headed back up into the woods to the parking area.

We then jumped into the car and headed to Horseshoe Falls. This is still part of Musgrove Mill, but you have to take a drive to the falls parking area.

This is a small waterfall. It’s handicap accessible. There is a paved walkway to an overlook. It’s only 1/10 of a mile to the waterfall.

As we were checking out the waterfall we saw a sign for Battlefield Trail. Decided to walk this trail too. It’s a 1.3 mile loop. It’s pretty easy too. This trails winds through the rolling hills of the northern wooded area of the park and site of the 1780 battlefield. There are lots of interpretive signs. They did a great job telling the story of the battle. I myself am not really into history, but I really got into reading the story on the signs as we went.

Here are some photos from today. Also included a few photos of our sunrise at Folly Beach.

Address: 398 State Park Rd, Clinton, SC


Visitors Center


British Camp Trail trailhead


Heading down out of the woods. Below you kind of see Mary Musgrove monument


We’ve walked down through a meadow (which you can barely see on the left) and are now on a trail between the meadow and the river


Couple of turtles sunning on the river



I like this shot of where the river flows around an island


I’m kind of assuming that these are concrete blocks that the grist mill used to sit on????


View up-river


Heading back into the woods


Right before you come out on the other side of the parking lot, you come across this little lake


We have driven over to Horseshoe Falls parking area and are heading out on the handicap accessible walkway to the falls


The small waterfall down through the trees


Down at the small waterfall on the very low river

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We saw this trailhead sign and decided to take this trail too

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The first interpretive sign. There are many on this trail and actually make for a very interesting story

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A shot of the trail through the woods. We haven’t yet made it to the fork where this becomes a loop

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Finally, the fork. Heading to the right.

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Bridge in the woods

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We’re getting ready to leave the woods and come into a meadow

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Cutting across the meadow

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Someone’s remains are apparently buried nearby

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The trail down through the woods


People on the beach waiting on the sunrise. Kind of made me think of the movie “City of Angels”


The sun barely peeping over the horizon


Sun is just about to rise above the horizon

Charleston, SC – Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site

Charles Towne Landing is a 664 acre park that sits on a marshy point off the Ashley River. English settlers landed here in 1670. This site has some of the earlier colonial history of Charleston. The grounds have 80 acres of gardens, and “oak alley” where the trees are just enormous and hundreds of years old. There is a $10 fee.

There are 7 miles of paved and unpaved trails used by walkers and bikers. The trails that we did today were all paved and easy to follow.  There are lots of information plaques to stop and read. There is also the  Legare-Waring House. There are only certain months where there are ranger guided tours. Looked like most of the time it’s used for weddings and other events.

The first trail that we took is called History Trail. It’s a 1.5 mile interpretive trail. I have a link to the trail map below and it also lists what all you will see along the trail.

One of the things that I thought I’d point out is on the  back end of the property, they actually have a replica of a 17th century sailing ship, called the Adventure. You can get on the ship. You will be told of the history of the ship. You can even go down below for a little look.

On the last part of this trail, before you get back to the visitors center, you can take off to the right on Animal Forest Trail and see animals in the natural habitat. It is a 22 acre area. They have shore birds, otters, bears, bison, among other animals.

Here is a map of the trails at the park.

Here are some photos from today.

Address: 1500 Old Town Road, Charleston, SC


There are a few ponds. They all warn of alligators. The only alligator that we saw today was by the visitors center.


The Wedding Garden with big trees



Before arriving at Legare Waring House, you walk between a couple of ponds


Look at all the moss hanging


Legare-Waring House


Avenue of Oaks. You can barely tell, but they are setting up for a wedding among the oaks. And you can barely see Legare Waring House in the background.


A huge, loud plane from the air force base flying overhead


View from the boardwalk


A few white birds just hanging out


Replica of hull of a ship


The “Adventure”


Get on board and learn about history from someone dressed in period garb


Photo from underneath the deck


Come around the bend and you can see the top of Cooper River Bridge over the tree tops


The mounds that the cannons were hid behind. They actually had little cannons back there.


The “Common House”


This is where people were punished


Fountain in lake with Legare-Waring House in the background


Ruins of a tub


If you’d like, check out the animal forest and the cemetery area

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Shore bird in a tree. The shore birds were encased in netting. 

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The otter playing with a stick

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I think the bear was sick of people and was turning around to walk off

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Wasn’t able to get a good shot of the bison. They had their backs to us as we passed them both times.

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Looks like a daddy and a mama turkey

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As we were arriving back at the visitors center, our first and only alligator view today



Charleston, SC – Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

After our Florida trip, we were home a week and took off for another week-long trip to South Carolina to spend a week with Steve’s family.

Today we went to the 600 acre Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, established in the 1670’s. It’s located along the Ashley River. It was $15 admission fee for adults. Great place to get out and walk the trails and tour the house. The gardens have some really nice bridges. You can have your wedding here if you’d like. We saw a couple of weddings going on today.

When we paid for our tickets, they said that they had a nature tram tour ride that would be starting soon. Decided to take that ride, so bought our tickets. They were only like $8. While waiting on the tram, decided to go in and visit the Conservatory where they have some more tropical plants and you can view a pond with a red bridge from the back, but they were having a wedding.

The tram tour probably lasted between 1/2 hour and 45 minutes. You get to see the wetlands, lakes, and forest. We also saw alligators, turtles, and different water fowl. There is also a section of the ride that takes you by old slave cabins. The tour ended in front of the house where we then took a tour of the inside of the house. There was an $8 charge for the tour of the house. No photos were allowed inside of the house.

After the tour of the house, we took off through the gardens. You walk by several ponds and unique bridges. On this walk you walk partially along the Ashley River. You will get a view of the back of the house as you are walking along the river. We then came to an observation tower that overlooks the marsh. Went back into the gardens and eventually came back out at the house.

There is also another walk that you can take that you pay for. We didn’t do this walk today. The walk is at the Audubon Garden Swamp. We took so much time in the other areas, just didn’t have time for this today. But, you get to enjoy this part of the gardens on boardwalks, bridges, and dikes.

Here is a link to their website. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any information on what the trail names were. Couldn’t find any information either on how long each of the trails were. This is the best map that I could find.

Here are some photos from today. Included a few from our condo in Folly Beach and a photo from inside Charleston City Market.

Address: 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC


Blooms at Conservatory entrance which is near where you pay to enter park. Having a wedding in Conservatory today, so unable to walk through.



A view of a lake on the tram ride


Captured this alligator sunning on one of the platforms out in the lake



A few of the old slave quarters on the tram ride


Swamp view on the tram ride. To the right you can see the boardwalk through the Audubon Garden Swamp.


Now we’re off the tram. View of plantation house.


View at the front of the plantation house


View of one of the beautiful bridges. Later we’ll cross the bridge and interrupt a wedding party taking photos.



Peacock hanging around the plantation house


A little information about Reverend John Drayton


Now we are on the garden trail. The red bridge at the back end of the Conservatory.


One of the larger lakes along the garden trail


Coming upon Ashley River


As you are walking along the river, you will get this slight view of the back of the plantation house


As you are getting ready to head away from the river, back into the forest, there is a 1.2 mile River Trail that just takes you on a piece of land stretching out between the river and the marsh area

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Obvious little pond with bridge. If you look over to the left, you’ll see a piece of a bridge in another little pond.

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I believe these are a couple of eagles. A guy that walked by thought they were falcons.

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A better view of the bridge that you could only see a piece of a couple of photos back

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View of marsh from observation tower

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Another bridge view of back in a cove

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We rented a 3 bedroom condo right beside of the pier in Folly Beach. The pier this morning right after the sun rose.


Steve on the back porch taking photos too


One of the photos from inside Charleston City Market 


Night view of Folly Beach Pier from our balcony




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