Jennifer's blog

Mountain Meal at the Dry Hill Store

BUTLER, Tenn. – When Richard Dugger moved back to Butler from Ohio, he had to drive to Johnson City three times a week for supplies. 

On his drive, he spotted a patch of land with nothing but briers on it. And he had an idea to make things more convenient.

“My husband was bored,” says his wife, Carolyn Dugger, with a laugh.

Whatever the reason, he opened the Dry Hill Store seven years ago.

Finding a Mountain Wedding

BOONE, N.C. – Andi Gelsthorpe Peters was at her wit’s end.

She and her fiancée, Rob, had searched high and low all over the North Carolina/Tennessee area for an outdoor wedding venue.

Andi and RobThe couple, in their mid-thirties, had each been to dozens of weddings. They didn’t want to drag family from other states only to spend a few hours with them. They didn’t want everyone to drive back and forth from hotels to a rehearsal dinner to the wedding site back to a reception. They wanted to create a sense of community and spend time with everyone for a weekend.

But they couldn’t find the perfect place. Some venues were close, but too expensive or had strict rules.

“Someone wanted $10,000,” she said. “I thought we weren’t going to be able to do this.”

A friend suggested Sugar Hollow Retreat.

“We had passed the signs for it on 321, but we’d never been up there,” she said.

She and Rob drove up the road to take a peek at the 300-acre getaway in the Cherokee National Forest.

Sugar Hollow Celebrates Fives Years of Getaways

LodgeBUTLER, Tenn. – Surry Roberts had a vision. The old barn didn’t look like much but a dilapidated pile of rotting wood.

But it had a strong foundation. Roberts knew that it was the start to something wonderful.

“The Sugar Hollow tract was simply cutover woodland, totally decimated, and [people] thought I was crazy, but I could see the beauty at the outset,” he said. “We started by fixing up one of the barns for camping and soon saw that all the rehabilitation of five barns and three houses would be significant.”  

Today, a framed photo of the old barn hangs inside a 10-bedroom Lodge. Visitors may be surprised to find out that old barn and the upscale Lodge are the same place.

Sugar Hollow Retreat has been surprising visitors for five years now. It first opened in 2004 as a bed and breakfast with only the Lodge. Now four other guesthouses and a 1,200-squre-foot conference center complete the escape.

Tucked in the mountains of the Cherokee National Forest, Sugar Hollow is midway between Boone and Elizabethton.

Sugar Hollow Awakens the Spirit for Learning Groups

BUTLER, Tenn. – For this group of adults, it was time to connect to the earth and awaken the spirit.


Retreating to Sugar Hollow