The gorgeous greenery that is the backdrop to any southern Appalachian road trip is equally appreciated by the region's cows and goats, whose sweet milk is the foundation for superb butters, milks, and cheeses that are establishing the region as a leading dairy producer. By: Hanna Raskin

June 10, 2013
Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

At Cruze Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee, dairy wunderkind Colleen Cruze churns out mango lassi and kale ice cream from the Jersey herd responsible for her father Earl's famous buttermilk.

Approximately 75 miles south of the Cruzes' spread, the newly minted Western North Carolina Cheese Trail picks up in Robbinsville at Yellow Branch Farm, one of the region's oldest artisan cheese operations, then heads an hour-and-a-half's drive east through Asheville and Looking Glass Creamery, which has been honored by the American Cheese Society for its ash-coated goat's-milk cheese. Taste it and other Looking Glass offerings on chef Adam Hayes' menu at Asheville's Red Stag Grill.

The trail winds 15 miles east to Round Mountain Creamery, which offers its Grade A goat's milk as part of a local home-delivery service, and Mountain Farm, a pocket-sized dairy that offers goat-farming workshops. Finish the trip with dinner at Climax's Goat Lady Dairy just south of Greensboro, where the meal starts with rosemary chèvre served on the porch and ends with chocolate goat cheese truffles.