If you are up for a late night adventure, the Applewood Manor is only a little over an hour drive from one of the great unsolved mysteries of the mountains—the Brown Mountain Lights. The lights are a phenomenon in the Pisgah National Forest—ghostly orbs that rise out of the land floating over Brown Mountain and the Linville Gorge area. Sometimes they move randomly over the vista and at other times they move as if intelligent—following and avoiding.
The phenomenon has been investigated countless times, and they are continually studied and photographed by students at Appalachian University without finding an explanation. Nor are the lights a recent discovery. The Cherokee and Catawba Indians had their legends for explaining the lights. Native American tribes battled over the land. One of their legends holds that the souls of Indian maidens are searching with torches for their warrior lovers that never returned from battle. Civil War soldiers wrote home about their frightening experiences with the lights—tales of lights that seem to follow them through the woods. The early mountain settlers had their own ghostly explanations—lantern-carrying spirits searching for the master of the house who never came home from his last hunting trip. The notoriety of the lights inspired the movie Alien Abduction, and the lights were also featured in an episode of X-Files in 1999.
If seeing these mysterious lights is on your bucket list, the easiest way to secure a front row seat is to drive 70 miles to Brown Mountain Overlook on a moonless night. Unfortunately, although the overlook will give you that front row seat, it will not guarantee success. The lights appear only sporadically. While they do so throughout the year, October and November seem to be the months they are seen most consistently. Locals say the best chance of experiencing the phenomenon is after a rainfall. For the adventurous, there is another way to view the lights. Wiseman’s View is a 56 mile drive from Applewood Manor and involves a short hike to the Wiseman’s Overlook. Be sure to take flashlights because the trail is unlighted. In the daytime, the Overlook provides a spectacular view of Linville Gorge. But at night the view is transformed into silhouettes. You will be looking over Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountains toward Brown Mountain beyond that ridge. The view is the area of the ghostly lights that have baffled scientists, government researchers and local residents alike and to this day no one knows what natural or unnatural forces are behind them.
Some say the quartz laden mountains have an energy all their own—crystal powered vortexes transferring energy from an unknown source with alleged paranormal connections beyond our understanding.
To reach Wiseman’s View take I-40 to Marion. Take exit 81 and turn left on Sugar Hill Road. Go about 3 miles to US 221 North. Drive US 221 for about 24 miles to the community of Linville Falls. Turn right onto NC Highway 183. Go one mile to the large Linville Gorge sign on right turning onto the Kistler Memorial Highway (also known as 1238 and old NC 105). Drive four miles to Wiseman’s View. Brown Mountain Overlook is only about 14 miles from the Wiseman’s location on Highway 181 between mile marker 20 and 21.