Sit a spell on The Swag’s front porch
Spend a weekend in the North Carolina mountains at The Swag.
You've grown up. But, you still can’t get those memories of summer camp out of your head. Every recollection involves blissfully childish activities—like fishing in a pond, racing down a dusty trail, carving hiking sticks, picnicking atop an ancient rock, climbing a tree or searching the woods for scat. Take it from us: You’ll love The Swag, a 14-suite log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains. The luxury hideaway brings summer-camp living just the way you remember it, but with a dash of sophisticated yet rough-hewn grandeur.
Adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Parkii, this bastion of bucolic elegance manages to fuse old-school luxury (think gourmet meals, roaring fireplaces, original art, top-notch linens and other amenities) with the permission to play hard outdoors and to relax indoors via the activities you cherished as a kid (card games, piano singalongs, arts and crafts). Bring your better half for a weekend, and, together, you can hike myriad trails, watch bears steal apples from the trees, photograph some elk, cast a line and snuggle up in front of the fire.
It all begins when you ascend the 2 1⁄2-mile road built by the owners to access the 250-acre parcel of land. Past gurgling brooks, verdant woods and rhododendrons, the thoroughfare leads to the top of the Cataloochee Divide Trail, a ridge that forms one of the national park’s borders. There, in the main house, you’ll be greeted like old friends and asked to choose your complimentary walking stick, carved from a variety of woods by local craftsmen. A fresh redesign of the common spaces and several guest rooms by Charleston-based designer Kathleen Rivers helps relax you. You’ll also be given hiking maps and a box lunch, a The Swag tradition that encourages you to get out and experience the landscape.
Hike and explore on your own, or with the authority of someone like Dr. Michael Pelton, a bear expert
Exploring, you’ll find storybook spots with evocative names, such as the riveting Gooseberry Knob.
Explore on your own, or hike with an authority, such as black bear expert Dr. Michael Pelton. “This trail has been a pathway for wildlife for thousands of years,” he says of the Cataloochee Divide Trail, traveled by early settlers and the Cherokee. “To this day, we see abundant wildlife, from bear to bobcat.” When in residence, Pelton will regale you with evening bear tales; on other nights, enjoy lectures from a rotating program of other experts, from botanists to ornithologists—all beneath a Goliath-size antler chandelier.
In the afternoons, relax in the sauna or outdoor hot tub located in select rooms, then join new owners Annie and David Colquitt, who are around from time to time, for cocktail hour and dinner, where you’ll share your day with other guests. The Colquitts are longtime family friends of The Swag’s original owners, Deener and Dan Matthews, and are responsible for some of the updates to the decor and more.
While any season at The Swag entices, guests rave about autumn—especially Thanksgiving week, which caps with a bountiful Wednesday picnic atop Gooseberry Knob, something returning guests book a year in advance. A celebration of nature and nostalgic authenticity, The Swag reminds guests to revel in the glory of nature. All-inclusive rates from $520 per night, two-night minimum, 2300 Swag Road, 828.926.0430
Photography by: The Swag