For the most part, you can navigate a Hayesville craft-discovery visit on two feet, moving about town circling the Clay County courthouse, which has defined the center of Hayesville since 1888. Wonderfully restored in recent years, this iconic building was rechristened the Beal Center in 2018 and serves as a gathering place for concerts, community events and celebrations. Drop into the Courthouse Gift Shop (828-360-2368) where you can purchase printed blocks made from the original floor patterns of this treasured building of Italianate Vernacular style.
Just to the north of the town square is Historic Hayesville Centennial Exhibit Building and Moss Memorial Library. Historic Hayesville (828-361-7058) boasts a variety of exhibits of rural life, information about the town and the Clay County Barn Quilt Trail, which has created quilt blocks that pepper the town and countryside.
Diagonally across the road on Anderson Street is Moss Memorial Library (828-389-8401, open Tuesday through Saturday), housing the Cherokee Cultural Center, a fitting place to begin walking the Quanassee Path, a two-mile homage to the remarkable civilization of the Cherokee and their valley town culture which alighted in the region. Historic and contemporary crafts make up much of the exhibit, including Pisgah pottery from 1000 AD and river cane baskets featuring the work of Snowbird artist Emma Garret.
As you circle the green space and gazebo of historic Hayesville Square, you’ll be circling the staging area for Hayesville’s summer concert series, mostly
featuring bluegrass and old-time music every Friday night through the summer. Drop by the town’s visitor center at 96 Sanderson Street for details and a raft of information about mountain biking, hiking and enjoying the town’s nightlife, including stage plays at the Peacock Performing Arts Center.
The Old Jail Museum, on a nob near the town square, houses an intriguing display of Cherokee artifacts along with historical tidbits about the jail itself, including two restored cells, claustrophobic enough to cause a person to reconsider train robbing as a general pursuit.
Just next door, the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit, open ’round the clock, unlocks another portal into Native American heritage as a colorful stop along the Quanassee Path. The exhibit features meticulously constructed summer and winter Cherokee houses and other salutes to Cherokee history encompassing language, spirituality and art. From there, the path wends its way through the county’s Native Botanic Garden and crosses 64 to take visitors on to Spikebuck Mound, the ceremonial center of an ancient Cherokee settlement.
If you’re up for a fun bike ride or good hike, take off on the Jackrabbit Mountain Bike and Hiking Trail. It’s a trail system off JackRabbit Road and is located on a peninsula on beautiful Lake Chatuge. It is designed to appeal to all skill levels. With close to 15 miles of machine-constructed singletrack trails are complete, the 3.1 mile Central Loop is the “core” trail that all other optional trails are connected. Many of the trails border Lake Chatuge, while others meander through the woods or ridge-top.
Informed by rich Native American history, watched over by the Tusquitee (in Cherokee: Where the Water-Dog Laughed) Mountains, encircled by lakes, Hayesville inspires creative, original work as evidenced by:
Goldhagen Art Glass ~ The creative home of David Goldhagen, a Southern Highlands Craft Guild member, and a masterful and inventive glassmaker. David’s sculptural and functional pieces are for sale in a light-flecked gallery near the rim of gorgeous Lake Chatuge, minutes from town (7 Goldhagen Studio Drive). Best to call ahead: 828-389-8847, though generally open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Joe Waldroup Wood Turning and Sculpting ~ Intricate and beautiful wooden bowls, lovely to behold, by appointment (828-389-3117), about five minutes from town on Cherry Road (767 Waldroup Road).