Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lake Junaluska and the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

Tucked away in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, about 20 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, is the small town of Lake Junaluska.
It is home to a large and lovely man-made lake named for a prominent chief of the Cherokees.  For centuries, this land was theirs.  
For the past 100 years however, it has been the home of a retreat and conference center operated by the United Methodist Church of the Southeastern District.

This was stop #29 on our 2013 Summer tour.  Every two years this center hosts the National Older Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren, our church family.
We enjoy the use of their spacious auditorium and many comfortable meeting rooms for about four days.
Sleeping accommodations range from this elegant hotel to the very simple campground where we stayed.
Inspiration Point, on a high rocky bank, overlooks the lake.
But our favorite spot -- and one of the reasons we arrived four days early -- is the walking trail around the lake.  Circling the entire lake is four miles but this foot-bridge cuts one half mile off the hike.
At the far end of the lake, this ancient, one-lane vehicle bridge crosses above the dam where walkers are drenched in the sound of water rushing down to the creek below.
Another reason for our early arrival -- besides being guaranteed a camp site for Labor Day week-end! -- was the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival.
This celebration of mountain music and dance is regularly held over Labor Day week-end in the main auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference Center.
How we enjoyed two evenings of toe-tapping, hand-clapping mountain folk music and the many skilled and energetic groups of cloggers.  We look forward to the next Smoky Mountain Folk Festival in two years.