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Jan. 2, 2019, 10:22 a.m.

Winter In The Blue Ridge


It may surprise you to learn that winter is a wonderful time to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains — even outdoors!

Much of our area lies in a regional thermal belt, which keeps January and February temperatures warmer than the surrounding areas. Check out a new favorite hiking trail this winter to catch a glimpse of icicles glistening in the shadow of a waterfall. And bring your camera to capture winter vistas— without leaves on the trees, you’ll find miles-long unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape.

You can hike a trail enough times that it starts looking, and feeling, familiar. But then, the seasons change, and so do the trails! Walking, hiking and running the multitude of trails in the McDowell County area will keep your body and your eyes in tip-top shape during the winter months in these Blue Ridge Mountains, while also allowing you to see the artwork only nature in the wintertime can create. Bring your camera to capture unobstructed long-range vistas, frozen cascades of waterfalls, winter flowers and plants while you’re out creating those winter memories.

You’ll find plenty to fill a morning or afternoon along the main streets of these charming towns. Marion’s Downtown District has an eclectic variety of boutiques, such as The Pickle Barrel, art galleries, restaurants and your pick of taprooms. In Old Fort, at the Mountain Gateway Museum, you can tour nineteenth-century log cabins and learn about mountain life in days gone by, or walk across the street to the Arrowhead Gallery to find a unique piece of art, and grab a cup of coffee at the Davis Country Store and Cafe.

Craft beverage enthusiasts will love the stops on the High Spirits Trail, a collection of 11 breweries, wineries, meaderies, distilleries and taprooms where you can sip and sample and enjoy the feeling of community only a local pub can create.

There’s no better way to get to know a place than to stay a day or so, and explore it a bit. There’s a number of local mountain cabins and vacation rentals, and many feature hot tubs and/or fire pits — both great ways to warm up after a winter day of adventures in these beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Start planning your winter escape now by downloading the latest Blue Ridge Traveler Visitor Guide.