National Hiking Day is Tuesday, November 17th. Whether you're looking for an easy stroll or a chance to traverse more challenging terrain, we’ve got the perfect hiking itinerary to celebrate in Mother Nature-approved style!
Thermal Belt Rail Trail
Difficulty Level: Easy
If you prefer your hikes to be a combination of small town strolls intermingled with lovely tree-lined walkways, the Thermal Belt Rail Trail is sure to please. This 13.58 mile trail follows the old railroad line from Spindale to Ruth and travels through Forest City and Rutherfordton in-between. The 12 foot wide partially paved path is perfect for walking or running, is pet friendly, wheelchair and stroller accessible, and allows cycling if you'd rather bike your way along the walkway.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Located on the sprawling campus of Isothermal Community College, this 3.3 mile series of trails was built by the Rutherford County Outdoor Coalition. Perfect for walking or running, the ICC trails circle through a variety of wooded areas and open fields, including a section that passes through a bamboo grove of 50 foot tall canes.
Purple Martin Greenway
Difficulty Level: Easy
This 1.4 mile family-friendly greenway is open to runners, walkers, and cyclists, and is dog-friendly. It additionally boasts multiple access points to Cleghorn Park, has fantastic picnic areas, and is connected to Crestview Park via a 0.5 mile sidewalk.
Dittmer-Watts Nature Trail
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Dittmer-Watts Nature Trail is a 3.5 mile series of trails that wind through forested areas along Lake Lure by Lake Lure Golf Course. The park includes picnic areas and a picnic shelter along the Mountain Laurel trail overlook.
Buffalo Creek Park/Weed Patch Mountain Trail
Difficulty Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Buffalo Creek Park offers over 12 miles of trails in 1,527 acres of natural forest along the head of Hickory Nut Gorge at the town of Lake Lure. The 3.5-mile loop features terrain and elevation changes, moderate climbs, and is perfect for runners, hikers, or mountain bikers looking for a fun yet moderately challenging trail experience. The Weed Patch Mountain Trail extends 8.6 miles from the highest point of Buffalo Creek Park, looping up into Eagle Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.
Chimney Rock State Park Trails
Difficulty Level: Easy/Intermediate/Advanced
From beginner level trails like the 4 Seasons Trail or the family-favorite Great Woodland Adventure; to moderate hikes like Hickory Nut Falls, or nature’s ultimate stairmaster, the Outcroppings Trail; or even more strenuous trail options like Exclamation Point and the park's Skyline Trail that boast some of the most spectacular views on the Eastern Seaboard - Chimney Rock State Park is a hiker’s dream. The park is currently open to visitors on a limited capacity, first come first serve basis, so be sure to get there early to take advantage of all the trails have to offer!
Make a Weekend Adventure of the Trails!
One of the beautiful things about Rutherford County is the short distance between its lovely small towns. Finding the perfect lodging that allows you to experience any of the county’s myriad of hiking trail options is only as difficult as picking your favorite style of stay!
Do you want to continue experiencing nature staring up at the stars after a day of hiking the trails? Hickory Nut Falls Campground in Chimney Rock Village, Foothills Family Campground in Forest City, and River Creek Campground in Rutherfordton all offer tent and RV sites in addition to cabin rentals. If you’re not traveling with the small fry, you can even opt for a “furry friend paradise” at 4 Paws Kingdom Campground & Dog Retreat which offers a variety of cabin, trailer, & yurt rentals in addition to their tent and RV site options.
Is a quaint lodge, hillside, or lakeside cabin more enticing after a day on the trails? A perusal of the Visit NC Small Towns website will connect you to hundreds of cabin options in every style and location. Lodge options such as The Riverside Lodge, Carter Lodge on the River, and the Evening Shade River Lodge & Cabins in Chimney Rock, or Lake Lure’s Geneva Riverside Lodging and The Lodge on Lake Lure, all offer old-world appeal while keeping you only minutes away from the area’s trail action.
Do you prefer the creature comforts of a charming bed & breakfast or local hotel after a day of hiking exertion? Rutherfordton’s Firehouse Inn, Carrier Houses Bed & Breakfast, and Lake Lure’s Grafton Lodge, all offer beautifully historic B&B accommodations complete with amenity-filled charm. Chimney Rock’s Broad River Inn and Esmeralda Inn, Lake Lure’s 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa, and the always wonderful Rumbling Bald Resort all offer exceptional accommodations and on-site amenities that are sure to pamper after a day on the trails.
Hiking Up A Hunger?
We promise, there’s no way you’ll go hungry after a day conquering the trailheads. From local casual bites at places like The Old Rock Cafe in Chimney Rock, The Mason Jar in Rutherfordton, The Fountain at Smith’s Drugs in Forest City, and Granny B’s Bakery & Sub Shoppe in Spindale; to kicking back for munchies with a view at places like The Tiki Bar & Grill and The Point of View Restaurant in Lake Lure, or Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery and Riverwatch Bar & Grill in Chimney Rock Village - it’s easy to find delicious, nearby food options for everyone’s style of craving.
See You Soon!
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate National Hiking Day, Rutherford county has the perfect trails to fit your experience level complete with lodging and dining to round out a hiking weekend well within budget. Come join us! We look forward to making incredible hiking memories with you that will last for years to come!