By Vivian Scimone
Saxapahaw is a town for the easy going, adventurous, and free-spirited souls of North Carolina. The endearing community is a 5.5 square mile community just under a half hour drive from Chapel Hill. It is home to the Saxapahaw Rivermill, a beautifully restored cotton mill and dye house on the banks of the Haw River. The Saxapahaw community offers many attractions to visitors, including a Farmer’s Market, concerts, hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking, and many places to grab some food.
Saturdays in Saxapahaw, an event located in the center of Saxapahaw, starts up every year in May and runs through the end of August. The weekly festivities include performances by top bands featuring bluegrass, back porch, blues, folk, funk, roots, americana, and old time music. Also featured during the festivities is a thriving Farmer’s Market with fresh local produce, eggs, baked goods, flowers, organic meat, locally produced wine, hand made arts and crafts, and more. In the midst of this idyllic setting are also games and activities for children and the young at heart.
The Haw River Ballroom is a beautiful music venue set on the Haw River that most recently has hosted concerts from Neon Indian, Jr. Jr., and X Ambassadors. Cup 22, Saxapahaw’s ultra-cool coffeehouse which serves pastries and locally roasted coffee, also acts as the Ballroom’s box office.
The Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co. offers trips, lessons, and rentals for people interested in canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding. Located on the Haw River, their trips range from paddleboarding on the flatter sections of the river to kayaking on class III rapids. Trips are offered year-round and walk-ins are welcome as well.
The Saxapahaw area also contains many hiking and walking trails along the rivers and in the woods. The Haw River Trail is a 70-mile long multi-use trail following the path of the Haw River from Haw River State Park to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. For over half of that stretch, the Haw River Trail will combine with the statewide Mountains to Sea Trail. In Saxapahaw, one can enjoy the Haw River Trail on a small hike or as a day trip.
The Saxapahaw General Store is a wonderful mix of gas station, local diner, convenience store, supermarket, and hang-out place. The News & Observer rated the Saxapahaw General Store as one of the area’s top restaurants in 2011. The atmosphere there is friendly and welcoming, definitely influenced by the close-knit community of Saxapahaw. Close by, the Eddy Pub offers feel-good food made with local ingredients.
Whether you’re interested in adventure, trying delicious no-frills food, or attending a concert, Saxapahaw has it all. Since the cotton mill’s closing in 1994, Saxapahaw has become an exemplary mill town turned hipster destination. If you love to have fun, go to Saxapahaw.