A foothills lifestyle offers a bit of everything: large towns nearby, mountains next door, rolling hills everywhere and an abundance of the best apples in the world. Easy to get to; easy to live in; a climate unsurpassed.
Think about it…
Jim and Cindy Gadd lived in the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado, but they’ve never been closer to a sky full of stars than they are in the foothills of the Carolinas.
The Gadds live in The Cliffs at Keowee Falls, one of three gated golf-course communities master planned by The Cliffs on the shores of pristine Lake Keowee, S.C.
Remote takes on new meaning here.
“We love the quiet and all the nature surrounding us,” says Cindy. “We have a hot tub out on our deck and we go out almost every night. It’s so dark out here. We had no idea how many stars there were in the sky.
In fact, there are so many stars we have trouble finding common constellations like the Little Dipper. We can hear the wild turkeys at night and see the deer early in the morning.”
Beautiful scenery, mild climate, a wide variety of community amenities and a location that offers small-town living an easy drive from major cities are luring increasing numbers of residents to the Carolina foothills.
For the Gadds, the foothills serve as a central meeting point for their three children who live in Charlotte and Atlanta.
Designed with an extended family in mind, the Gadds’ 5,000-square-foot home features a master suite, study and living area on the main level and guest quarters. Three bedrooms and three baths offer space for each child, and a pool table, big-screen television, and X-Box 360 make the weekend getaways fun for younger visitors. A fourth guest room will later be used for their two infant grandchildren.
The lower level space opens to a grassy area where the family can walk straight down to the dock and boat.
While the Gadds looked at many lakefront communities around the Carolinas and Georgia, the search stopped when they found Lake Keowee.
“The quality of this water sold us,” says Mr. Gadd. “It’s very clear, and very blue. It’s absolutely beautiful. And right now, there’s not a significant amount of boat traffic on it. Unlike some lakes that turn red in color with all the run-off from construction, this one is very clean.”
Upon moving to Lake Keowee, the couple bought a 25-foot Chapparell that they enjoy together and with their three children and grandkids. Boating newbies, they’ve quickly made cruising a part of their relaxed lake lifestyle. The Gadds’ chocolate Lab, Abby, often comes along, too.
“From April until Thanksgiving, we go out a couple of times a week,” says Mr. Gadd. “When the children are here, we go on picnic lunches by boat or go skiing. Our favorite time to boat is late afternoon, just to see the houses under construction and the peace and calm of the sun setting. Late at night, it’s absolutely quiet and just beautiful out on the water.”
Learning to slow down and relax has been one of the biggest changes for the Gadds, particularly for Jim who traveled an average of 100,000 miles a year with BellSouth.
“We were always on the go,” he says. “But here we can sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.”
When they’re in the mood for activity, the choices are endless. The Cliffs at Keowee features two Tom Fazio courses and a new Jack Nicklaus Signature Course opening this spring, clubhouses, an equestrian center, a marina and a luxury wellness resort called Keowee Springs Lodge & Spa. An inter-community water taxi shuffles residents around the lake to amenities in adjacent neighborhoods.
Residents of The Cliffs also enjoy a private club membership with reciprocal privileges at any of The Cliff’s seven communities within a 70-mile stretch.
“Both my sons play golf and one of the great things about The Cliffs is that there are so many good courses to choose from,” says Mr. Gadd. “We also enjoy the wellness center, which has a fitness center, yoga and exercise classes, a good assortment of bicycles and treadmills and exercise equipment related to golf.”
Indoor and outdoor pools, hiking trails and organized socials, from dinner with neighbors to Atlanta Falcons football games, also are offered. In addition, college sports and cultural activities are a short trip away at Clemson or Furman.
“Everyone’s initial reaction is ‘Gosh, it’s a long way out here,’ ” says Mr. Gadd, “and it is. But once they’re here, they all love the lake, going out on the boat, playing golf and taking part in what the community has to offer. It’s just a great place to relax.”
Eleanor and Franz Damhesel chose Carriage Park in Hendersonville, N.C., another quaint town in the Carolina foothills. They purchased a homesite 12 years ago and moved from St. Louis in June 2005.
“We fell in love with the foothills and found Hendersonville to be a charming little town,” says Mrs. Damhesel. “It’s cute, with a slow pace and almost a 1950s feel. But it has so much to offer. Brevard and Asheville have fantastic classical music and excellent plays. There are good hospitals in the area. We have a wonderful view of the mountains. The climate is so much milder. The people have all lived interesting lives. There’s no competition with anyone. It’s just a perfect place to be and we enjoy it tremendously.”
Carriage Park, which has about 350 homes, draws mostly early retirees, many of whom moved from the Northeast or Florida. Mrs. Damhesel, 62, is originally from Philadelphia while Franz, 67, grew up in Austria.
Residents enjoy planned activities such as a book club, hiking group, dinner group, Bible club and monthly men’s breakfast. A retired high school educator, Mrs. Damhesel teaches French lessons to residents each week.
“There’s also a Lunch Bunch with about a dozen groups of eight women each,” she says. “Every few months the groups change so you get to meet new people.”
Mountain waterfalls, Chimney Rock, Brevard College and the Biltmore Estate are other nearby attractions that Hendersonville residents can enjoy.
“Everyone here is very friendly,” says Mrs. Damhesel. “It’s not as aggressive as living in the city. If you cross the street in Hendersonville, cars will stop for you. If you did that in Philadelphia or St. Louis, you’d get hit. It’s just a nice, laid-back community, but it’s not the boonies. It has everything you’d want or be interested in right here.”
Editor’s Note: Looking up into the mountains offers a very soul-satisfying vista. No wonder the foothills attract folks who long for a mountain view without the mountain roads or altitude. Some towns, like Hendersonville, N.C., are more foothills, even though they are in the midst of the mountains. Others, like Seneca or Clemson in South Carolina, are near those peaks, but not in the middle of them.