Horsin’ Around Cabin, Leatherwood Mountain Resort, Getaway feature for Log Cabin Homes
Horsin’ Around in the Mountains, by Debra Grahl
Leaving Boone, North Carolina early one Spring morning, our sights were trained on our client’s black SUV, leading us eastward and upward towards a cabin in a mountain resort community approximately 25 miles away. We were heading out to photograph the project for him, and as we left Boone’s bustling commuter traffic behind us, we sat back to enjoy the ride, our to-go cups steaming with superb mountain brew.
Sometimes it goes this way, when you are blindly, trustingly, following someone or their directions into parts unknown: the questioning begins. “Where the heck are we going? Does he know where he’s going? We are in the middle of nowhere. I hope he knows where he’s going. Where IS this place?” And finally, the classic, “When are we going to BE there?” Such was the situation for us after leaving the main highway from Boone, as we rounded countless turns through the densely forested Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s not like we weren’t enjoying the ride. How could we not marvel at the beauty of the magnificent scenery on either side of the rural road we were traveling at 30mph? The meandering speed permitted us glimpses of lacy-white flowering dogwoods, splashes of wild pink azaleas and another southeastern mountain tree that we had come to know as, simply, red bud. Its blossom is not so much red as a mix of purple and magenta. What a gorgeous drive it was, and not so long after all. 25 minutes from Boone we followed our client around the last turn, through the entrance to Leatherwood Mountains Resort. Our coffee was still piping hot.
We pulled into the reception area, a homey-upscale-rustic sort of building equipped with helpful personnel wearing huge smiles while offering, “Coffee, tea, water, soda, anything at all? What can we get you?” We took them up on the water, as our client bantered familiarly with one of the staff, procuring a key to the home my husband and I were about to spend the day at.
Leatherwood Mountains Resort began operating in 1984 and from its inception included the option for homeowners to place their homes in the resort’s vacation rental offerings. The majority of the houses in Leatherwood are second/vacation homes for their owners, so it makes sense to consider generating some income from them while not being occupied for their own enjoyment. Tucked into the forest, out of sight to mortals such as we, there are some125 homes in Leatherwood; at this point approximately 30 are full time residences and 43 are in the rental program. The cabin we were there to photograph was one such rental home, called Horsin’ Around, harkening to the homeowner’s equestrian passion and the barn she designed to accommodate her own horses and potentially those of her renting guests. Among its many amenities Leatherwood has a first class year-round equestrian center and nearly 100 miles of trails, a system that winds through lush mountain valleys & skirts high ridges. Hikers and bikers are also permitted to enjoy the riding trails, but no motorized vehicles are allowed.
With keys and water bottles in hand, we climbed back into our car and began the second part of our driving adventure. Once again following our client’s lead, we headed deeper and higher into Leatherwood’s 4000 acre wilderness, through even more spectacular scenery than we had experienced on the drive from Boone. Once again, we began wondering out loud, “How much further… and (more importantly) how the heck are we going to find our way out of here?” An occasional walker came into view and waved merrily at us. Now and again we passed a group on horseback, or paused for them to safely cross the road. Our navigational concerns were put to rest when we arrived at the cabin and our client assured us that the rental home had excellent wifi service, and by downloading the GPS map back to Boone before heading out we would return in exactly the same manner in which we had arrived.
Horsin’ Around was custom designed by the homeowner in collaboration with log home producer Log Homes of America, based in West Jefferson, NC. The company’s owner, Joel Robinson, says, “The Appalachian-style log cabin’s plan was compiled from different features of our standard plans. With 780 sq. ft. on the main floor and 547 sq. ft. on the second, the house is compact but laid out very well. I think the best feature of the home is that every room takes advantage of the great views from the property. As does the hot tub on the side deck. The open living/dining/kitchen area and loft above are filled with natural light from a wall of windows overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each of the two bedrooms has its own full private bathroom so it’s a perfect house for two couples, or a family as well.”
It appears privacy was also an important factor in the design of the property’s horse barn. There are two large stalls and two smaller “open air” paddocks, so four horses can each have their own room. The overall accommodations work great for renters with horses but it’s not necessary to rent the barn in order to rent the house.
In addition to simply enjoying the cozy cabin’s amenities, Horsin’ Around guests can utilize Leatherwoods’ swimming pool, tennis courts, on site restaurant, and equestrian facilities. Two ponds inside the gate are available for fishing, a mile of trout-stocked creek frontage runs through the resort’s campground and the resort hosts many cultural events throughout the year. A calendar of events is listed on their website.
Leatherwood is actually quite easy to get to. Located in Wilkes County, the resort is centrally located between the towns of Boone, Wilkesboro and Lenoir, which form a triangle around the Leatherwood property, each of them roughly a 25-30 minute drive. For those flying to this getaway paradise, there’s an airport two hours away in Charlotte, and another just one and a half hours away in Greensboro.
The resort’s managing partner, Abbie Hanchey, offers this information to folks interested in activities outside of Leatherwood: “There are countless ways to enhance your stay here. An award winning clay and trap shooting course is a 15 minute drive from Leatherwood. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is also about 15 minutes away and offers kayak, canoe, and pontoon rentals. Some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails on the east coast are close at hand. We have dozens of amazing Yadkin Valley vineyards located within an hour’s drive of Leatherwood and shuttle services and tours can be arranged for guests wanting that experience.” A 20 minute drive can access the historic Blue Ridge Parkway for guests wanting to take in the splendor of this scenic by-way.
As we made our way through a day of documenting Horsin’ Around, we enjoyed the cabin in some of the ways a guest might. We enjoyed our packed lunch in the Adirondack chairs on the front porch, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. We soaked up the warmth of the stone fireplace while styling and shooting the fireplace shots. We imagined how nice it would be to spend a starry night there in the cabin, after watching the sun set on the forested mountains. Then we packed up our gear, loaded it in our car and headed back to Boone.
As it often goes, the return drive seemed much quicker and way less daunting than the first. Scheduled to photograph another one of Leatherwood’s rental homes the following day, we would get to know the winding road quite well. But that’s another story.