Located in the adorable village of Flat Rock, near Hendersonville, and 30 miles south of Asheville, find the fascinating home of America's poet Carl Sandburg. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1968 (part of the US National Park Service) to honor Sandburg's massive collection of stories about the American people's plights, struggles, joys and hopes. Wife Lilian has a fantastic story of her own, breeding and milking her prize-winning goats. It's free to explore the grounds, but there is small fee for a guided house tour.
From the parking area, walk a 1/3 of a mile trail up a slight hill to reach the house. If you are unable to walk, get a ride by using the phone at the restrooms near the parking. Your first stop should be the first floor of the house (enter under the front staircase) to book a house tour. These 30-minute tours begin every hour, starting at 9:30 AM. See where Sandburg wrote a third of his work. He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. He was also famous as the singing bard. It's well worth the $5 fee (cash or check). House tours are limited to 15 visitors. If there's a little wait until the next tour, you can watch a film or stroll the farm first.
The highlight for many are the goats. Mrs. Sandburg owned and operated a premier goat dairy from 1935 to 1965. Mrs. Sandburg's goat breeding program produced champion goats and led to the improvement of goats as milk producing animals. The park service raises goats that represent the three breeds of goats Mrs. Sandburg raised at Connemara. Rangers and volunteers are on hand to share stories.
Find a 5-mile network of trails that takes you by many original farm buildings and to the highest point on the farm, Glassy Mountain (elevation 2,783 feet). You can hike a 3.5-mile loop from the parking area by taking the Front Lake Trail to the left before the info station and follow signs to Glassy Mountain (pic above). On the way back down, follow signs to the house or barn.
Attend many events and special programs during the year. Each summer, the Summer Stage Series features morning performances on Wednesday-Saturday. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas at Connemara (10 AM-1 PM) features musicians and storytellers, crafts and sing-a-longs, hot cider and cookies. The house will be decorated in the simple style of the Sandburgs through early January.
Admission: Free for grounds, trails and barn; no park entrance fee.
Guided House Tour Fee: $5 for Adults 17 and older; $3 for seniors 62 and older (cash or check only); Children under 16 admitted free
Hours: Open daily 9 AM until 5 PM, except Christmas Day.
Directions from Asheville: (40 minute drive from downtown) GPS address: 1800 Little River Rd, Flat Rock. Take I-26 east to exit 53 - turn right onto Upward Road. From Upward Road and intersection with U.S. 25, continue straight. Upward Road turns into North Highland Lake Road. At the light, turn left onto NC Hwy 225/Greenville Hwy south. At next light take a right onto Little River Road. Visitor parking on left.