Are you looking for the perfect place to tube with your family in Western North Carolina? We think that you should check out the Davidson River just outside Brevard, NC. Pick up your tube for a small fee at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest and a full day of floating fun awaits. If you’re looking to do a little summer tubing, Brevard, NC is a great place to be.
The Cradle of Forestry is a hidden gem in Pisgah Forest up near Brevard, NC. It’s a fascinating place and has lots of special events and both indoor and outdoor fun.
Sometimes there are cool places hidden in plain sight that you may drive by so many times and just never notice. We try to find these kinds of neat places and tell you about them so you can experience all the coolness we did! One such place is about 90 minutes from Greenville nestled in Pisgah Forest near Brevard, NC called the Cradle of Forestry. It’s amazing and totally worth the trip up there (plus, I’ll tell you some other neat things to do in the area).
Searching for the perfect weekend away? You’ll want to book your trip to Pilot Cove in Pisgah National Forest after you read KAG’s review written by Kristina Hernandez. Find out what this unique spot near Brevard, NC offers its guests and all the nearby things to do.
Complimentary nights were given at Pilot Cove and all opinions are those of the author.
Reading the reviews of Pilot Cove as I was getting ready for my trip led me to believe I was in for a real treat. “Nicer than the Grove Park Inn,” wrote one person. Another wrote that she felt like she was staying in a treehouse. Another said he could spend the rest of his life at Pilot Cove. None of these people were wrong. It’s hard to overstate how beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing the cabins are at Pilot Cove, which sits right at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest in Brevard, about ninety minutes from Greenville. But I’ll try anyways.
The location of the cabins are unbeatable, especially if you love the outdoors. You can walk to the entrance of Pisgah Forest or to a handful of restaurants nearby. It’s maybe 30 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and less than 20 minutes to Dupont State Forest. Hiking trails, waterfalls, and fly fishing are minutes away.
But the thing is, once you get into your cabin at Pilot Cove, you may not want to leave.
Breathtaking is perhaps the best word I can use to describe the modern, yet rustic, fully-appointed cabins, that are integrated into the forest landscape. The deck at our cabin was big and dreamy with hooks already set for the locally made hammock that you are free to use during your stay (or purchase for $100 and take home with you – don’t think this didn’t cross my mind). The kitchen is spacious for any meals you want to cook. The table is oh-so-gorgeous and also locally crafted from beautiful wood. The furnishings are comfortably classic and you’re surrounded by huge photographs of the surrounding waterfalls and forest.
There is also a mud room and a full washer and dryer so you can get as dirty as you like and still have clean clothes for the rest of your trip. And if it rains, like it did when we were there, the music the water makes on the tin roof is beautiful.
It wasn’t long after I walked into Pilot Cove that I was already dreaming of a return trip. Being able to make your own meals saves a lot of money – there is a Bi-Lo and Wal-Mart within walking distance or a two-minute drive – and there is so much to do within an hour’s drive so you don’t need to go far in search of making lasting memories.
A Trail Runs Through Pilot Cove
The cabin was also spotless, the beds comfortable, and the property stunning. Pilot Cove has a trail system that runs throughout the land, backing up to Pisgah Forest and a bear sanctuary (we didn’t see any bears though!). The trails are open to both hiking and mountain biking and run about two miles in total. They have a ⅓ mile flow track for serious mountain bikers, which the company absolutely caters to since the owners are avid bikers. If you love that sport, this is the place to go. Each cabin also comes with a spot to wash off the bikes.
We hiked part of the trail and it’s a great workout with beautiful views as you wind around the ridge. I loved this part of the property because even though Pisgah Forest is literally right next door, the owners were thoughtful in their love of the outdoors to include a hiking trail within steps of the doors of the cabin.
More Cabins & a Glampground
Currently, Pilot Cove has 15 cabins that are either studio, one or two bedrooms. They all have the same basic layout and feel that you’re in a treehouse, which is so peaceful and relaxing.
They have plans to expand to 50 cabins plus a “glampground” with showers, picnic areas, fire rings, and even small sheds for bikes. Pilot Cove also hosts events like concerts in their amphitheater and offers yoga classes during the year.
Open All Year + Rates
Pilot Cove is open year round, which is perfect for families looking for a quiet retreat for just a few days or a whole week. I really can’t imagine any other location that is more ideal for families who love the outdoors and want to explore the area. During the summer, you can go tubing on the Davidson River basically across the street from the cabins. The fall brings the majestic turning colors of the leaves. Winter is wonderful for exploration during the off-season since the crowds are significantly thinned out. And spring brings wildflowers and the blooming rhododendrons along trails off the Blue Ridge Parkway and throughout Pisgah Forest.
Pilot Cove cabin rates vary by season and size. The off season (January 1- March 1) rates for the studio cabins during the week is $150/night and weekends are $175/night. One bedrooms for the same period are $175/weekday, $199/weekend, and the two bedroom cabin is $239/weekday and $275/weekend. Peak season rates on the studio are $195/weekday and $239/weekend. A one bedroom runs for $245/weekday, $289/weekend, and the two bedroom peak season rates are $299/weekday and $349/weekend.
Some cabins do allow dogs but they must be pre-approved ahead of your stay. No cats are allowed due to guest allergies.
Making the Most of Your Trip to Brevard, NC
The quaint Downtown Brevard and the bordering Pisgah Forest have plenty of activities, restaurants, and festivities to stay busy and have fun as a family. Here are a few of our favorite places to eat, shop, and enjoy the outdoors.
Eating in Brevard
Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop in Brevard is a throwback to a 1950s dinner with checkered floor and red vinyl booths. They serve sandwiches, Hershey’s ice cream, milkshakes, burgers, and all kinds of hot dogs.
For the best in European style pastries and breads that are made fresh daily, try Bracken Mountain Bakery in Brevard.
I fell in love with boutique clothing and jewelry shop right off Brevard’s main drag called Poplar & Ash this year while in the area for some waterfall chasing. The owner is an artist herself and somehow finds the most unique shoes and apparel, along with custom jewelry. There’s also a little area for kids to color while parents shop around.
Discovered by my family on a rainy day, the Crystal Mountain Gem Mine in Brevard is really cool and a fun activity for kids. They also sell all kinds of beautiful jewelry from local artists and is right on the main street through town.
Transylvania County is home to over 200waterfalls so checking them out is a must-do on a trip to the area. My favorites are Looking Glass Falls, right off 276 in Pisgah Forest, which you can see from the road, and Moore Cove Falls, which is on a short hike right past Looking Glass Falls. Dupont Forest is close as well, where you can easily see three or four waterfalls in a single hike.
Hiking: Pisgah National Forest and Dupont Forest
If your family loves hiking, Brevard is the place to be. Swing through Dupont Forest for pretty easy hikes or try Daniel Ridge Loop in Pisgah Forest for a more challenging 4+ mile hike. I loved the view from Frying Pan Tower, a two-mile round trip hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway, that affords 360 views of the mountains. The options are endless but here are some hiking in Pisgah recommendations.
I’m no fly fisherman but every time I’ve been hiking in this area, I see fly fisherman, which has peaked my interest in the activity. Within an hour of Brevard, there are more than 500 miles of prime fly fishing waters. Headwater Outfitters and Davidson River Outfitters are two of the local companies that provide intro classes and fly fishing trips.
Mountain biking is a big draw to Pisgah Forest and a love of the owners of Pilot Cove, which is why they built their own flow track on the property for use by guests. Here is great info on where to go if you mountain bike near Pilot Cove.
During the summer, be sure to tube the Davidson River in Pisgah Forest. Every time we came to the forest during the warmer months, we saw people tubing and were a bit jealous.
I had no idea river snorkeling was a thing until I saw it on a brochure in the cabin at Pilot Cove. Oxbow River Snorkeling actually offers this cool water activity in rivers in Western North Carolina.
Indoor Family Activities
Don’t let rain stop your family from having fun on your trip. There are two really cool places in Pisgah Forest you should visit if the weather isn’t cooperating for outdoor activities. The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is a fish hatchery where you can see lots of trout getting ready to be released into local waters as well as learn about the environment, watersheds, and foliage in both indoor and outdoor exhibits. It’s free, too.
The Cradle of Forestry has an amazing indoor, interactive exhibit that is outfitted to look like a forest with a little cave and staircase to get to the top of a tree. There is even a helicopter that plays a video where it seems you are flying over a forest fire. Outdoors trails are a part of the Cradle of Forestry as well if you’d like to explore old trains and cabins and learn about the history of the area.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-do if you visit during the fall season when the leaves turn shades of bright reds, oranges, and yellows. Seeing it in photos and see it in person are two separate experiences and choose the latter if you can. The scenery is just stunning and from Pilot Cove, you can be at the entrance to the Parkway within 30 minutes.
The Blue Ghost firefly tour out of the Cradle of Forestry in May is also an experience not to be missed. The small fireflies light up along the pitch black pathway of the trail and it feels like you’re walking in a dream. I did it this year and was mesmerized!
Sierra Nevada Brewery is a great place to spend a few hours with your family as they have a little kids play area, corn hole, a huge outdoor space, live music, and great food and beer. You can get there in 25 minutes from Pilot Cove.
Sometimes I feel like living in Greenville isn’t real, that I’ll wake up from the best dream ever and realize I don’t live here any longer. Not only is Greenville a wonderful place for families, but some of our country’s most astounding landmarks are within a 90 minute drive from the Upstate – how awesome is that?! If you’re considering exploring Brevard during any time of the year, certainly look at Pilot Cove. Those memories you’ll make as a family are irreplaceable.
There’s More to Explore in Western North Carolina!
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The NC Arboretum Is A Dreamy Holiday Light Experience in Asheville, NC