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Jan. 26, 2023, 3:07 p.m.

New Experiences Coming to McDowell County in 2023

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This new year brings exciting new projects and celebrations to McDowell County, NC!

Old Fort turns 150 this year, and the 150 Project is planning festive events throughout the year to commemorate the occasion. New construction is already underway expanding the Old Fort Trail complex, adding new mountain-biking and hiking trails. And some area attractions are evolving their focus to attract more outdoor enthusiasts to the county.

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The 150 Project

Old Fort turns 150 years old in 2023, and the 150 Project team is planning 150 activities throughout the year to celebrate! Everyone is invited to help “elevate the past, present, and future of our community” at the Sesquicentennial Kick-Off Event on February 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. Join organizers at the Old Fort Elementary School for music, a historical presentation, student art exhibit, and refreshments. Admission is free.

“A Writer's Walk: Elevating the Literary Significance of Old Fort, NC” and “Maude and Ethel Celebrate 150 Years of Old Fort” comedy show are slated for March with additional events to be announced.


The Year of the Trail

The year 2023 has been proclaimed the “Year of the Trail,” and Old Fort is celebrating with 4 miles of new trails!

NEW: Meadows Loop Trail - Construction has started on this new expansion project to help you access swimming, wildlife viewing and fishing in the Pisgah National Forest. This 1-mile, accessible loop trail will take visitors over 3 bridges and a boardwalk through wetlands and along a wildflower meadow.

NEW: Bernard Mountain Trail, located north of the Fonta Flora State Trail and south of Mill Creek Road, will bring an added element of adventure to the Old Fort Trail complex. Looking to extend the downhill mountain-biking experience of the nearby Kitsuma Zone, the Bernard Mountain Trail will offer plenty of its own adrenaline-pumping action. Following the path of a heart-stopping rocky ridge, the 3-mile “classic Pisgah intermediate” biking route with switchbacks also welcomes hikers, although the trek can be pretty strenuous.

Coming this spring, Catawba Falls will reopen. The popular trail near Old Fort, NC, has undergone some improvements over the past several months including new retaining walls, boardwalks, staircases, and overlooks that will greatly improve the trail and visitor safety.

Old Fort Trails and Trains Festival

To celebrate North Carolina's Year Of The Trail , Old Fort is hosting a new street festival, The Old Fort Trails and Trains Festival, scheduled for June 3rd, 2023. This downtown celebration will focus on Old Fort's growing collection of trails and pathways, plus the town's railroad and Pisgah National Forest history.

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Music Under the Stars

Originally the Blue Ridge Country Club, the North Cove Leisure Club has announced plans to open “the largest outdoor music venue and premium outdoor club celebrating nature, outdoor leisure, and recreation". The 157-acre property in North Cove, located at the base of the Linville Falls Mountain Club, also serves as a beautiful wedding venue.

The club has already opened two 18-hole disc golf courses for which it received national attention after a player achieved a 611-foot hole-in-one-world record. Thhe natural outdoor amphitheater and Birdie’s Restaurant and Bar is slated to open in the near future.

Watch this space for more McDowell County news and celebrations in 2023!