The Catawba Falls trail will close on May 2, 2022, and remain closed until spring of 2023. The popular Old Fort area trail will be closed for 9-12 months to ensure the safety of the public and construction crews building retaining walls, boardwalks, staircases, and overlooks. Click the "Play" icon to find alternative waterfall and hiking trails.

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Outdoor Adventure

Join us on a trail! We are a mountain community with elevations exceeding 3,000 feet above sea level inside the Pisgah National Forest where our northern boundary is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Dive Right In

Plan your #lakelife adventure

Discover Lake James
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3-Day Blue Ridge Itinerary

Things to see and do in the mountains.

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High Spirits Trail

Visit 11 uniquely crafted tasting experiences along the Blue Ridge Traveler’s High Spirits Trail to experience the craftsmanship of local brewers, vintners and distillers using ingredients grown right here in Western N.C.

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A travel guide for Marion, Old Fort, Lake James, Linville Falls and Little Switzerland, NC.

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Find lodging in and around McDowell County for your vacation. Browse hotels, campsites, rentals, and more.

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Experience the Blue Ridge

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Aug. 3, 2022, 2:36 p.m.

Top 25 Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains

From waterfalls and vistas to small-town main streets and locally crafted flavors, here are 25 top things to experience in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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July 19, 2022, 4:42 p.m.

Old Fort Gateway Trails: 6 Miles of Hiking and Biking Paths

The Old Fort Gateway Trail System officially opened six miles of new multi-use trails to hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

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Waterfall
July 12, 2022, 4:35 p.m.

Stay Cool in the Blue Ridge Mountains This Summer

As the summer heat arrives across the country, it’s the perfect time to escape to the cool breezes and welcoming towns of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Your Travel Guide To Little Switzerland, Lake James, Marion, Old Fort & Linville Falls

Welcome to the Blue Ridge Traveler's Towns and Trails! With cool mountain breezes, endless views and countless opportunities for outdoor adventure, summer is the perfect time to plan your next vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

Check out our guides to top local hiking trails and stunning waterfalls. Keep an eye open for native wildflowers and colorful bird species as you hike, bike and explore the region. Take a drive on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping to take pictures of mountain vistas and experiencing regional heritage at museums and historic attractions along the way.

Cool off at Lake James State Park where you’ll find fun for all ages including hiking, kayaking, biking and a swimming beach. Wade into chilly mountain streams to try your hand at fly fishing or rent a tube to enjoy a lazy float down the Catawba River.

Step back in time and imagine life in the Blue Ridge during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when you stop by the Historic Carson House, Emerald Village Museum, and Mountain Gateway Museum. Each site interprets different pieces of our region's historic puzzle.

Stroll the small-town streets of Marion, Old Fort, Little Switzerland and the Linville Falls community, where you will encounter the craftsmanship of local artists in shops and galleries. Check out the events calendar for a full line-up of happenings throughout the season.

When it’s time for a bite, pull up a chair at one of our delicious local restaurants. From barbecue to bakeries, burritos to bubble tea, and plenty of scrumptious Southern fare, you’re sure to find the local flavor you’re looking for. Enjoy a pint of locally brewed beer at one of several craft breweries, and look for local wine, mead and spirits along our High Spirits Trail.

At the end of the day, choose from numerous lodging options ranging from rustic campgrounds and mountain cabins to lakeside vacation rentals and national brand hotels. Not sure where to start? Explore our three-day Blue Ridge Mountains itinerary that includes our favorite things to do — plus more to discover on your own!

Note: All images are property of the McDowell Tourism Authority or tourism partners and are not to be copied, duplicated, re-printed, or shared electronically.

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