Have you visited the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in Flat Rock, NC? We love the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site for many reasons – great hikes, gorgeous views, and adorable goats you can pet and play with – but there is so much more to do at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in Flat Rock, NC. The Carl Sandburg home, Connemara, is less than an hour away from Greenville, so visiting makes for a perfect day trip. Tours of the historic home and access to the pasture, barn, and trails are currently free!
Looking for more day trip ideas? Check out our guide to Ultimate Guide to Daytrips Near Greenville, SC to plan your next adventure with your family!
Visiting the Home of Carl Sandburg- Connemara
Connemara, home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg, is located in the charming town of Flat Rock, North Carolina. It’s an easy drive across a beautiful mountain, just below Hendersonville, NC. Once you arrive, you will find several trails branching from the National Park Service parking lot, including the contact station, Front Lake (restrooms and brochures), Front Lake Loop, and the wide main road that heads up towards Connemara.
One of the wonderful things about being so close to Connemara is that you can read Sandburg’s children’s book The Huckabuck Family one morning and then get in the car that afternoon to see where the book’s author wrote and explored and ate and laughed and walked.
Tours of Carl Sandburg’s Home
Carl Sandburg and his family lived at Connemara from 1945 until his death in 1967. Currently in 2023, visits to the farm, grounds, and House tours are free. It is highly recommended to make reservations for house tours, as tour capacity is 8 people and fill up quickly. Tours are currently offered Saturday and Sunday only, with tours at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm.
The house has been left exactly as it was when Sandburg passed away in 1967. The rooms of the home are teeming with books that Sandburg touched, read and studied. The view from this house elicits a smile just thinking about the poet sitting in his chair on the rocks being inspired by the same image. The Sandburg’s had over 17,000 volumes of books. The man liked to read. Inside the basement of Sandburg’s home is a sweet little gift shop and a room for viewing a video about the writer’s life. During the year there are several events scheduled that are engaging, educational, and fun!
Visiting with Goats at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site
As you head past the lake, up towards the house on the gravel road, and past some of the older historic structures, you’ll eventually end up at the dairy barn. This is where the goats live. The property continues to be a working goat farm to this day. Gentle, adorable, loving goats. Goats that love kids petting and touching and hugging them. The goats are actually descendants of Mrs. Sandburg’s own prize-winning goat herd.
The barnyard is also home to chickens and giant shady trees and rock walls and green fields. Excellent for a picnic. During April and May the barnyard is full of babies, so when visiting in Spring be ready to hear lots of awes from your kids.
The goat farm is unique in that visitors can walk in the pasture with the goats (and in the enclosure with the kids!) as well as explore the barn, not only meeting the goats, but petting them and watching them feed and interact. The hours of access to the barn and goat pasture will be daily from 10 am – 3 pm and is free. The entire park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Reading to a Goat During National Literacy Month
September is National Literacy Month and March is National Reading Month. Both fit nicely with the theme of the entire park given Sandburg’s choice of career. So to honor the heritage of the park and give guests a pretty good reason to come there, the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site invites visitors to grab a book and read to a goat (or several).
You can bring your own book, although I don’t recommend it for one very important reason, which I will get to in a second. They also have books in a red wagon right outside the gates to the barn that you can borrow and bring into the pasture to read to the goats. We found a couple of great books that both my kids really enjoyed. The goats did, too.
Once you pick out your book, you can go see the goats. All the goats you’ll interact with are females and they are really sweet and curious and have no idea about personal space. The very first time I ever went to see the goats was when my kids were super little, they were terrified because the goats are pretty big if you’re a little kid. Now my kids, ages 10 and 7, love the goats and enjoy petting them and this time, reading to them.
So reading to goats is not an easy task. We really tried. One of the goats ripped out a page and started eating it, which we grabbed back because you know, they have special diets, which don’t include books. This is why you may not want to bring your own book. We ended up sitting with a few goats who may or may not have been sleeping and reading the books. I had a book of Sandburg’s poetry, which was wonderful to read while at his home.
My oldest daughter found a nice, docile goat with a white coat who seemed to be totally enthralled with being read to. It was very cute to watch.
We spent about an hour with the goats and our attempts at reading books. We had a blast and reading was such a bonus because books are pretty popular at my house and we all enjoy it.
But reading to goats? A whole level of awesomeness.
Hiking the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Trails
In addition to the home and the barns, which are plenty to fill an afternoon, there are hiking trails on the property that are family-friendly and quite rewarding. You can also take the rambling walk back to your car and trek around the beautiful fishpond. It’s a great path to wear your children out with good, honest exercise so they can nap on your drive back across the mountain to Greenville.
If you are up for a challenge, you can take the Memminger Trail Loop and the Glassy Mountain Trail up to the Glassy Mountain overlook. It is 1.25 miles, but the 523-foot increase in elevation makes this a more challenging hike. Although there are several other options for reaching Glassy Mountain from the parking lot, they are all about the same length with the same workout.
The exposed rock makes for interesting plant communities in the various seeps, and the overlook is the only spot in the park with a view of the mountains. Round trip, this strenuous hike takes around 4.5 miles.
Kids Track Trails at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site
You might notice a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail kiosk at the entrance. The Kids in Parks network is a family-friendly collection of outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that can enhance your outdoor experience, and you can earn prizes for tracking your adventures.
Things To Know Before Visiting the Carl Sandburg Historic Site
A couple of things to note when planning your visit:
- Wear closed-toed shoes because you’ll be going in a field, which has lots of grass, some mud, goat poop, and other things you don’t want on your feet.
- Bring water. The hike up to the goat barn isn’t long, a bit over a quarter mile, but it is somewhat steep. There are water fountains to refill your bottle, and you can also purchase small snacks and water bottles from the bookstore. Please recycle your bottles!
- There is no charge to visit the historic site, hike the trails, or go to the goat barn.
- House tours recommend a prebooked registration, and only 8 people are allowed per tour. Tours are currently free!
- Backpacks and large bags are not allowed on the tour, so plan accordingly.
- Strollers and backpack child carriers are not allowed on the home tours, but soft front carriers are allowed for babies and toddlers.
- The hours of access to the barn and goat pasture are every day from 10 am – 3 pm. The entire park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- The pedestrian bridge from the parking lot to the main entrance is currently closed. In order to access the park .4 miles around the lake and another 1/3 mile up a steep grade. If you require accessibility assistance, please call 828.707.8125 when you arrive.
Directions to the Carl Sandburg Home
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock, NC 28731
Click here for directions for Carl Sandburg’s Home.
Currently, home tours are Saturday and Sunday at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm. More times may be added during the warmer months. Home tours are currently free.
Other Western NC Travel Ideas:
- Asheville Adventure Park
- Hands On Children’s Museum
- Flat Rock Itinerary
- WNC Day Trips
- Travel Guide to North Carolina
- A Guide to Things to do in Western North Carolina
There’s so much to see in WNC!
Find more fun in our Kidding Around Guide to WNC.
Has your family ever visited the Carl Sandburg home?