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Located in the Catawba River Valley in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Burke County is situated in the rolling landscape of western North Carolina and is home to some of the area’s best outdoor adventure destinations. Get started in Morganton, where you can gear up for adventure at CBS Sports and finish the day by checking out the many restaurants and breweries that are helping breathe new life into the city’s downtown district. With adventure destinations like the Linville Gorge to the north, Lake James to the West and South Mountain State Park to the south and numerous great adventures to be found right in the heart of Morganton, there is something for everyone in Burke County.
Local Adventure Expert: Burke County Visitor Center
110 E. Meeting St., Morganton, NC
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South Mountain State Park: The largest state park in N.C. with over 20,000 acres offering equestrian trails, backpacking, trout fishing and the impressive High Shoals waterfall cascading 80-feet into the Jacob Fork River.
Bean Stalk Journey: Zip-line Tree-Top Canopy Tour at Catawba Meadows Park with numerous ziplines, rope bridges, and a new Free-Fall attraction.
Catawba River: Below Linville Dam on Lake James, the Catawba River flows through scenic
woodlands, around islands, and over a series of small and exciting rapids until it reaches the nearby town of Morganton. The river features beautiful scenery with clean, cold and clear water along with a number of class II rapids that provide a good challenge for beginning canoeists and kayakers.
Lake James State Park: Tucked beneath the towering summit of Shortoff Mountain and the Linville Gorge, Lake James State Park offers visitors a number of outdoor adventure opportunities. With more than 150 miles of mostly wooded, scenic shoreline, the lake is a great destination for fishing, paddling and boating. Access areas include boat launches at Black Bear Boat Access Area, Linville Access Area, and Hidden Cove Access Area. The newest portion, Paddy’s Creek, spans over 3,000 acres including canoe rentals and a large public swimming and beach area.
Fly Fishing: The Catawba River tailrace below Lake James flows east to the Atlantic Ocean and is the only Special Regulated Trout Waters in NC. We recommend linking up with a local guide for more info. View options at Burke County website.
Paddy’s Creek Biking: Taking a mountain bike ride on the extensive trail system at Lake James State Park is a great way to enjoy the outdoors at your own pace. Around 15 miles of singletrack mountain bike trails are now open at the nearby Paddy’s Creek Area on Lake James, which encompasses more than 30 miles of shoreline on the 6,812-acre lake. Venture out to the Tindo Loops for beginners and Wimba Loops for more of an adventure challenge. Lake James State Park Moutain Bike Trail System Map
Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill: Pick your own apples, purchase fresh cider and other baked apple goodies at this local apple orchard that offers wagon rides through the orchard and apple picking from late August through October.
Linville Gorge: Head out on a guided overnight backpacking trip with Hike More Adventures, a full-service, and fully licensed guide service that help make sure you get the most out of your adventure and navigate the Wilderness Area safely.
Local Brew: Enjoy the local offerings from up-and-
coming brewery Fonta Flora, whose brewers take a unique approach to incorporating natural elements into their tasty beverages, or check out Morganton’s original brewery, Catawba Brewing and stick around for live music and a fun time in their large space.
Getting There: Head to the Burke County Visitor’s Center in downtown Morganton (110 E. Meeting St., Morganton, NC) to get the scoop on these and other great adventures and activities in and around Morganton. For driving directions, download our app, The WNC Adventure Guide, for turn-by-turn navigation right from your phone.
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