If you are looking for outdoor adventures with beautiful scenery, where you can include your beloved dog then look no further than Rutherford County. From pet-friendly stays in lakeside retreats to stunning trails that take you past waterfalls, Rutherford County is the ideal destination for people looking for an exciting vacation with their four-legged friend in tow.

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is a stunning scenic hike that welcomes dog companions. The 1,000-acre park is in the Hickory Nut Gorge of Chimney Rock, with impressive panoramic views from its scenic vantage points. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is an ideal place to take your leashed dog at any time throughout the year and offers hikers views of the stunning waterfalls along the 1.4-mile round trip. The trail is gentle with gradual uphill sections and rocky terrain and takes approximately an hour with picnic areas and benches located at points around the trail.

Thermal Belt Rail Trail

Previously an unused railroad corridor, the Thermal Belt Rail Trail is a great place to take your dog. This trail is part of a nationwide network of trails that use former rail lines and rail corridors, supported by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The trail is paved from end to end making it an easy walk and begins in Gilkey, ending 13 miles in Forrest Hunt Elementary. There are a few road crossings along the trail as it passes through the small towns of Spindale, Rutherfordton, and Ruth, with plenty of natural scenery to enjoy.

Purple Martin Greenway Trail

This attractive Greenway trail takes in some stunning natural scenery including creeks and waterfalls. The trail offers a wild escape as you wind your way on the 5-mile hike along Cleghorn Creek. The trail is dog-friendly, welcomes children and cyclists, and runs through Kiwanis Park with large open green spaces, picnic areas, bathrooms, and a dog park. The entire trail takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete with the trail being easy for children and handicapped accessible.

Buffalo Creek Park

Located in Lake Lure, close to plenty of dog-friendly areas, the Buffalo Creek Park trail is ideal for tiring out your furry friend. This dog-friendly trail stretches over 3.5 miles across some mountainous terrain, where you can enjoy stunning views of Lake Lure and Bald Mountain Lake. You will be sharing the trail with mountain bikers however it is a great trail that attracts plenty of trail runners. Picnic tables are dotted around the trail and dogs should be leashed during your walk.

Dog-Friendly Places to Stay and Eat

Of course, all that hiking will build up an appetite! Old Rock Café and Medina’s Village Bistro offer pet-friendly outdoor seating with scenic views. At the same time, Geneva Riverside and The Copper Penny provide relaxed atmospheres in Lake Lure and Forest City respectively. Other options include Barley’s Taproom, Main Street Coffee & Ice Cream, and Hickory Nut Gorge Craft Brewery, promising a relaxing experience for all.

Need a place to rest your head? 4 Paws Kingdom Campground offers a unique dog-dedicated experience, featuring amenities like a fenced-in swimming pond and off-leash play areas. Pine Gables Cabins provide rustic retreats near Lake Lure, while The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa offers elegance and welcomes dogs with complimentary amenities.

With plenty of pet-friendly places to stay in Rutherford County and exciting trails that welcome your beloved Fido friend, why not make your next adventure a memorable experience for your whole family?