Enter to Win A 2-Night Stay + Spa Treatments at Omni Grove Park Inn

Enter to Win

Surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, Old Fort is a small quaint town easily accessed from Interstate 40's Exit 73, just east of Asheville and Black Mountain. Old Fort is one of fifteen NC Mountain Heritage Trout Cities and is known for its pre-Revolutionary War era history, mountain biking, hiking, and waterfall trails. (Banner Image: Blue Ridge Traveler)

Here's a sampling of what you will find:

Visitor Center: Less than a half mile from I-40 at exit 73 is the McDowell County Visitor Center at 91 South Catawba Avenue. Stop there for all sorts of maps and brochures about things to do.

Mountain Gateway Museum

Adjacent to the Visitor Center is the Mountain Gateway Museum, the state museum exhibiting mountain lifestyle and history from the earliest inhabitants to the twentieth century. Summer music programs, festivals and a variety of other activities are held there and at their outdoor amphitheater on Mill Creek. Free. Read more.

Old Fort Arrowhead Gallery

Across the street from the Visitor Center, see and buy works from 40+ artists and artisans at Arrowhead Gallery and Studios, featuring a wide variety of arts and crafts, classes and workshops. They are closed Mondays all year, plus closed Tuesdays in January-March. 78C S Catawba Avenue.

Old Fort Ride House
Old Fort Ride House courtesy of McDowell Tourism Authority

Hillman Beer Old Fort NC
Hillman Beer courtesy of McDowell Tourism Authority

Enjoy some brews and grab a bite at Hillman Beer (78 Catawba Avenue, Suite F) where you can sit creekside on their patio. Old Fort Ride House (59 Commerce Street) is also a fun spot for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts where they serve snacks, espresso, coffee drinks, and beer. Plus, they sell Kitsbow Cycling Apparel.

Point Lookout Trail

The Point Lookout Trail is a unique, paved greenway that follows a former road up the ridge, so it's a constant walk or bike ridge for 3.6 miles. It takes you through Pisgah National Forest with mountain views along the way. Read more

Other mountain bike trails include Kitsuma Peak and Jarrett's Creek. Woods Mountain Trail is a multi-use trail just north of Marion designated for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian use. In the Curtis Creek Area, near the campground, is Snook's Nose - great for hiking or mountain biking.  Also in the Curtis Creek area is Newberry Creek Trail. This former forest service road is ideal for beginning hikers, with a trout stream running in and out of the trail.  

Carson House Museum

Located 9 miles east of Old Fort on US Highway 70 is the very historic Carson House. Today, it's a fascinating museum covering 200+ years of regional history. Read more.

Fishing: Anglers will appreciate the four mountain trout streams, Mill Creek, Curtis Creek, Newberry Creek, and the upper section of the Catawba River. Mill Creek flows through downtown Old Fort, bordering the Mountain Gateway Museum. To fish in a stream that is designated as a Mountain Heritage Trout Water, purchase a 3-day license for $5.

Old Fort Arrowhead Monument: In the center of Old Fort, built in 1930 this hand-chiseled granite monument served to honor the peace finally achieved between the pioneer settlers and the Native Americans (pic at top of page). At the unveiling, over 6,000 people attended including chiefs from both the Catawba and Cherokee tribes. These two tribes had never smoked a pipe of peace together until that day.

Places to Stay

Inn on Mill Creek, Black Mountain

Tucked away on seven private, wooded acres inside Pisgah National Forest, this casual B&B is located near the charming small town of Black Mountain and has spacious guest rooms decorated to… read more

Blue Ridge Travelers: Small Towns & Outdoors

Explore McDowell County east of Asheville, with the small towns of Marion, Little Switzerland, Old Fort and Linville Falls. Includes Pisgah Forest, with hiking, waterfalls, fishing, Lake James and… read more


Pioneer Day

Experience traditional Appalachian crafts, food, games, music and storytelling (10-4) at the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort with historic log cabins. Free admission.

Andrew's Geyser

Andrews Geyser: Located just outside Old Fort in McDowell County, this manmade geyser shoots up over 80 feet high at times. Its water supply is drawn from the Mill Creek. Enjoy the mighty, misty column of mountain water that shoots straight up, twisting a bit in the wind, always raining down. Andrews Geyser is free, open to the public, and surrounded by a sizable concrete wading pool that’s a super spot to get misty. The park includes picnic tables and stone benches, where you can watch the water show. Catch a rainbow with early morning or late afternoon sun. About 5 miles west of downtown Old Fort at 2111 Mill Creek Rd. Turn left onto Main Street, then right onto Old US 70.

Old Fort History
Since 1869 travelers through these mountains looked for the familiar sight of a tall water plume, a geyser, and a resort hotel tucked away at the base of the Blue Ridge this signaled the start of the long climb to Asheville through some of the most scenic terrain in North Carolina. Originally a fort built by the colonial militia before the Declaration of Independence, the settlement served for many years as the western outpost of the early United States. The fort is now being rebuilt by the non-profit corporation "Davidson's Fort Historic Park. 

Go to Blue Ridge Traveler's website.

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