Burke County & Morganton, NC

Burke County: Lake James & Linville Falls

Burke County is home to the cool city of Morganton, about 55 miles east of Asheville via I-40. The county extends north to Linville Gorge and the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Parkway, take scenic NC 181 South ("The Snake") for 27 miles to Morganton, passing along the way the entrances to Linville Gorge, Table Rock, Hawksbill, Upper Creek Falls, Brown Mountain Light and more! Burke County and the surrounding foothills are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Plus, visit wineries, historic sites, festivals and plenty of fine art and craft. Click here to visit the Burke County Web site.

Burke County Things to Do

Located about 60 miles east of Asheville, Morganton's charming downtown centers around the stately historic courthouse. Shop, eat and taste local brews at two breweries: Fonta Flora and Catawba. In September, attend the big Historic Morganton Festival with arts and crafts, festival cuisine, wine garden featuring many nearby wineries.
Inn at Glen Alpine
Just 40 minutes east of Asheville, this 1913 Country Manor turned Bed & Breakfast offers luxurious guest rooms including two suites, spacious and elegant common rooms, a 'green' environment, the best porch in Burke County and unbeatable event space perfect for weddings and family reunions. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the... read more
Lake James Cabin
Cabin Rentals: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
Linville Falls
Linville Falls
Probably the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 316). Trails lead to views of both the upper and lower falls. A moderate hike of 1.6 miles round trip offers four overlooks. Also see Dugger Creek Falls here.
Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles roundtrip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain
(1.5 miles roundtrip, moderate) Enjoy spectacular mountaintop views overlooking the Linville Gorge. We love to hike this and nearby Table Rock the same day! Take a picnic.
Lake James beach
Lake James State Park
This state park has a wide beach with a nice pavilion with changing rooms, open for swimming May-September. Also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and more.
South Mountains
South Mountains State Park
(2-40 miles, easy, moderate, strenuous) This state park near Morganton has 40 miles of hiking trails. Our favorite is High Shoals Falls 2.7-mile loop trail to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Combine several trails for a much longer hike.
Upper Creek Falls
Upper Creek Falls
This beautiful waterfall setting has multiple cascades and a swimming hole with a rope swing for diving! Located in Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181, about 13.5 miles north of Morganton. It's about a half mile hike from the parking area.
Shortoff Mountain
Shortoff Mountain
(4.5 miles roundtrip, strenuous) Near Lake James is a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
Morganton NC
Morganton Trail Guide
Order a free guide to Morganton and Burke County, located east of Asheville and home to Linville Falls, South Mountain State Park, small towns and hikes to Table Rock and the Linville Gorge.
Morganton Festival
Historic Morganton Festival
September 08, 2017 to September 09, 2017
A big street festival in downtown Morganton that includes fine arts and crafts, festival cuisine, a wine garden featuring NC wines, teen and kid zones, four stages of entertainment, a sunrise run on Saturday, and much more. Free admission!
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
July 01, 2017 to July 04, 2017
Go to one of the top bluegrass music festivals in the South, with 20+ bands including some national headliners. Camping, food, crafts and more in a beautiful park in Morganton. Fireworks on the 4th. Daily admission starts at $25/advance and $30/gate. Four day pass is $60/advance and $75/gate.

Burke County NC

Catawba Valley Wine Trail
Take a tour of four wineries conveniently located near I-40 (see our Catawba Valley Wine Trail Guide). Three of them are just a few miles apart - Belle Nicho Winery features Seyval Blanc, Catawba, Chambourcin and Sweet Dog Red wines. Silver Fork Winery has a beautiful tasting room and great views of their vineyards and the South Mountains. South Creek Vineyard & Winery has a charming century old Italian Renaissance Farmhouse and deck to enjoy an award winning Bordeaux style wine.

Also, Defiant Distillery Tours at Blue Ridge Distilling Co. offers a guided tour and a sampling of Defiant Whisky. And Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill makes nine varieties of apples plus jams, jellies, honey, cider spices, apple-related products and homemade cider. (Read more about Distillieries.)

Burke County, NC

More Things to Do

  • The Catawba River Greenway Park has 3.8 miles of paved, fully accessible walking and biking trail along the Catawba River from the Rocky Ford Access area off Lenoir Road/NC 18 N. to the Greenlee Ford Access adjacent to the Catawba River Soccer Complex Loop located off Greenlee Ford Road. Along the trail there are picnic shelters, fishing piers, canoe launches, a gazebo, multilevel observation decks and pedestrian bridges which cross the river and tributaries. The National Park Service formally certified the Greenway as part of the Overmountain Victory Trail.
  • The Valdese Heritage Arts Center features arts and crafts by local artists
  • Waldensian Trail of Faith is a series of exhibits that recall the passion and determination of the area's early Waldensian settlers.
  • Waldensian Heritage Museum offers artifacts and special exhibits remembering the early Italian settlers that founded Valdese
  • The Beanstalk Journey at Catawba Meadows is a great adventure for the entire family. The exciting zip line course takes you first across sky bridges then from treehouse to treehouse suspended from a series of zip lines.
  • Fly Fishing in the Catawba River tailrace below Lake James in the state's only "special regulation" trout waters. Trophy brown trout up to 20 inches are common. 

Discover More! Go to the Burke County Web site for more attractions and great places to stay.

Sample wines at one of these 15 area wineries in the North Carolina mountains and foothills near Asheville! Create your own winery tour for a fun afternoon. Talk to the winemakers and stroll through... read more
Asheville and the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina have been the setting for many movies. The blockbuster movie The Hunger Games was filmed in several locations during the spring and... read more
Linville Gorge is one of Eastern America's most scenic and rugged gorges, created by the scouring action of the Linville River. The steep walls of the Gorge enclose the Linville River for 12 miles.... read more
The 500,000+ acres of the Pisgah National Forest surrounding Asheville features some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, and the best recreational opportunities in eastern North... read more
Take a scenic drive in the mountains that surround Asheville. Go over the rivers, through the woods and by waterfalls, with plenty of things to along the way in the national parks and forests in... read more