Recently, I went hiking in the Smoky Mountains with my daughter, Sarah, before going to a family reunion in South Carolina. We stayed on the North Carolina side of the Smokies in Maggie Valley, a much more low key alternative to the excesses on the Tennessee side at Gatlinburg. We did briefly drive through Gatlinburg with amusement park type rides leading off the main street in both directions and the Aquarium of the Smokies. You know you have reached a sure sign of the approaching apocalypse when Ripley’s Believe it or Not is the most tasteful attraction in town. And next door in Pigeon Forge you can find the theme park, Dollywood, hosted by Dolly Parton.
Maggie Vally, NC, in contrast, seems a bit more authentic. It has a large number of old style blue grass dance halls. We played minature golf at a place with actual wood railings and no plastic waterfalls. We were also excited to find Butts on the Creek as one of several BBQ places. It resides on Johnson Creek with a screened in porch alongside the river. They cook with hardwood and produce some good cue. Butts is located at 1584 Soco Road (Highway 19) in Maggie Valley, NC 28751 (828.926.7885). The next morning we had breakfast at the Blue Grass Café. I had eggs, excellent country ham, and biscuits with sausage gravy. There was enough cholesterol to last a life time but an 8 mile hike in the mountains perhaps countered this a bit.
I also found a nice site, North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue Joints – Lexington Collection, which offers what seem to be independent reviews of BBQ joints in North Carolina, the home of my favorite styles. Here is a link to a broader review on the topic, Barbeque of the Carolinas: East and West, North and South.