instagram arrow-down
One Charge Trips

Saxapahaw, NC

Renovated mill town that's bigger on the inside

Saxapahaw is a town of just 1,648 located roughly a 45 minute drive from our house in North Raleigh. Part of the trip is by highway and another part is by country roads. The round trip was 81.2 miles and was no problem for our Tesla Model S on this unseasonably warm December day. Other EVs that should be able to handle this trip are Chevy Bolt, 2018 Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, second generation BMW i3, second generation Ford Focus Electric, and the second generation Volkswagen e-Golf. PHEVs can make the trip with the assistance of the gas extender.

For as much as Saxapahaw has to offer, it is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of town. Still, you might be surprised at how much this tiny town packs into a such a small area. A general store, concert venue, coffee shop, restaurant, co-working space, hair salon, ale house, butcher, and charter school all fit in just one building on the main road through town.

It’s especially impressive when you consider that Saxapahaw reinvented itself after its last mill closed in 1994. The red brick mill buildings have been repurposed into the shops and modern lofts overlooking the Haw River that runs adjacent to the town. During the summer, “Saturdays in Saxapahaw” draws patrons from the nearby Triangle to enjoy the local farmers’ market and a free concert series.

The draw of this inviting town has caught the attention of publications across the state and country. Saxapahaw has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Our State, and WUNC TV.

On this Saturday, winter is two days old and Saxapahaw is bustling but not crowded. Our first stop was the Saxapahaw General Store for a late lunch. Part small grocer, part casual eatery, the store offers basic goods, gourmet foods and local treasures in addition to a decent wine and beer selection and a scrumptious menu to fuel our next adventure…


…which was to head down to the river to snap some photos before the forecasted rain started. The Haw River in this part of the woods is rocky and it’s peaceful to watch the river meander around the boulders. Near the bridge, pedestrians walk on a sidewalk high up on the river bank, but a 100 yards or so southeast offers access to a well-maintained, river-side trail.

The entrance to the trail features a picnic area with a stone grill. And the trail has little offshoot paths that take you a few feet to the water’s edge. It brings back the child in you, the time before smartphones and social media when you actually wanted to go outside and step onto a big rock or up into a sturdy tree.

After exploring, we headed up to Cup 22 which is a coffeeshop and the box office of the Haw River Ballroom, a concert venue set in the former dye house of the old cotton mill. We ordered a couple of regular coffees and sugar cookies and headed out to one of the incredible decks overlooking the river and outdoor amphitheater.

Right as we got up to leave, the promised drops of water began to fall from the sky, sprinkling dots across the wooden deck. Thankfully, there’s plenty more to discover about Saxapahaw, and we look forward to charging up to return again.

We only have one suggestion for this delightful destination: add electric vehicle charging! This would allow drivers of lower range electric vehicles such as the first generation Leaf or the Fiat 500e to visit – they need to charge while they eat, drink or hike.

Vehicle Tesla Model S
Distance 81.2 Miles
Energy Usage 24.3kWh — 299Wh/mi
Outdoor Temperature 70ºF
Entertainment The O’Reilly Programming Podcast: Wrangling data with Python’s libraries and packages.