Stories from the Smokies

On just about any drive through the North Carolina countryside, you may see a colorful painted quilt block pattern adorning a barn, public building, shop or private home. Such encounters are always a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

They’re all part of grassroots movement that began in 2001 when an Ohio women painted a block on her family barn to honor her mother, a quilter. From that first block, the idea has spread across the nation resulting in thousands of painted quilt blocks. Swain County’s artists are no exception.

We have organized a dozen of our roadside quilt designs into a self-guided driving tour. Some are in the countryside, others in town. The Quilt Trail webpage provides information about each unique design, including accounts of the artists’ inspiration, such as:

  The painter of ‘Diane’s Passion’ wrote “This Barn Quilt is a replica of one of my mother’s most beautiful of many quilts.  I couldn’t believe the unbelievable detail in her sewing.”

  Another quilt block, located in Bryson City’s Island Park, is based on the popular ‘double wedding ring’ pattern yet painted in a “colorful way that celebrates the woodlands and the flowers gracing the grounds of Island Park during the summer months”.

Viewing these quilts is a great way to explore the county. For more information, including Google Maps driving assistance to each location, visit the Swain County Quilt Trail.

Quilt trail quilt block on Deep Creek Tube Center Barn, Bryson City NC

Around Deep Creek

Quilt Trail Quilt block at Calhoun House Inn & Suites, Bryson City NC

American Dream

Quilt Block on business exterior

Diane’s Passion

Quilt Trail quilt block on a stand at Island Park, Bryson City NC

Double Wedding Ring

Quilt Trail Quilt block at Calhoun House Inn & Suites, Bryson City NC

American Dream

Quilt trail quilt block on Harmony Hall at Lands Creek Log Cabins Bryson City NC

Harmony Square

Quilt Trail quilt block at Bryson City NC Chamber of Commerce

Appalachian Dream

quilt block on large red barn

East Alarka Mountains

Quilt trail quilt block on Harmony Hall at Lands Creek Log Cabins Bryson City NC

Smoky Mountains

Quilt Trail quilt block at Bryson City NC Chamber of Commerce

12-Pointed Star

Quilt Trail quilt block at train depot in Bryson City NC

Railroad Spirit

Quilt trail quilt block on outside of SWCC Swain Center, Bryson City NC

Southwestern Community College