Wednesday Walks Episode 8 – TODD, North Carolina – Outdoor Adventure, Music and Fun
Todd, NC, straddling the county line of Watauga and Ashe counties in the NC mountains, lies at about 3000’ elevation and is a 12-mile drive to Boone heading south or 10 miles to West Jefferson to the north. So close to town yet you’ll feel like you’re away from it all while enjoying plenty of outdoor activities during the busy season from May through October and perhaps a mountain hike, wood fire and hot toddy in the wintertime.
Located at the headwaters of the ancient New River, Todd offers a gentle stretch of river offering recreational fun for all ages and great for first timers! Rent tubes or kayaks from one of the local outdoor expedition companies in Todd for a day trip or a short float down the river.
River Girl Fishing company, located in the historic train depot in downtown Todd, offers fly fishing lessons, guided trips, equipment sales, kayak and tube rentals, as well as bike rentals. From downtown Todd you can bike 11 miles each way along the flat Todd Railroad Grade Road, once a part of the tracks of the Virginia-Carolina Railroad (Virginia Creeper Trail). Famously known as part of the course known as the Blood, Sweat and Gears race, the 22nd annual will be held on June 27, 2020. If a 22 mile ride is not for you, stop about 4 miles down and grab lunch at the Riverside Restaurant!
Rather run it out? The New River Marathon, an official Boston Marathon qualifying race, runs along the banks of the historic New River in Todd. Over 17 miles offers pastoral views of the River, Christmas tree farms and horse and cattle farms. For the miles that wind away from the New River Valley, the course offers a few hills, rolling country roads and “the most beautiful race venue ever!”
Todd is also home to the Green Valley Community Park offering a picnic shelter, playground, playing fields, hiking trails and canoe/kayak ramp and a new .28-mile walking track right on the banks of the New River! It’s a great place for the family to spend a day on the water. Open from dawn til dusk.
Todd hosts many opportunities to take in local and national music acts including their Community Summer Concerts. The free, family-friendly concerts are held in Cook Memorial Park in historic downtown Todd. Todd has hosted musicians from Doc Watson and the Kruger Brothers to local acts like Wayne Henderson and friends, King Bees, Lucky Strikes and Amantha Mill. The Todd New River Festival, held in October, offers all day entertainment including music, storytelling, bluegrass jams, puppet shows, vendors and of course barbeque.
Go from the free music in the park to kicking up your heels at a monthly community dance! Todd Mercantile in downtown Todd hosts Contra’s, Reels, Squares, Waltzes and a little bit of flat footing. No experience necessary, the caller runs through all the steps before each dance. Bring the family! Todd Mercantile offers handcrafted art, gifts and other merchandise made in the Appalachian Mountains, many by local artists. It’s also been noted that visitors come from near and far to sample the famous cinnamon rolls from the bakery, not to mention its’ breads, pies, cakes, cupcakes, scones, cookies and more!
Next stop is the historic Todd General Store. Established in 1914, The Todd General Store (originally Cook Brothers General Store) was built by Walter and Monroe Cook in anticipation of the arrival of the Virginia Creeper railroad. After being closed for the past few years, Todd
General Store re-opened in July of 2019, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike! Part General Store, part deli and ice cream, part local musician gathering hole, the Todd General Store is now open Thursdays through Saturdays and is a great place to take in a bit of nostalgia. One of only five authentic general stores remaining in North Carolina, the Todd General Store is in Todd’s Historic District which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Todd, with its rich history, outdoor recreation, music, arts and a sense of community is a delightful place to visit and a wonderful place to live.
New River Fun Facts: It is thought to be the second oldest river in the world, after the Nile. It is one of only three rivers in the world that flows north. The South Fork of the New River starts in Blowing Rock, meanders through Boone and Todd, flows north into Virginia, comes back into North Carolina and then back into Virginia two more times. From there, it continues to West Virginia meeting up with the Kanawha River which turns into the Ohio River, meets with the Mississippi River and empties into the Gulf of Mexico!