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
Places to Stay: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals, B&Bs and hotels near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
Linville Falls
Linville Falls
Perhaps the most photographed waterfall in NC, Linville Falls is along the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 316). A moderate hike of 1.6 miles round-trip offers four overlooks, add another 1.5-mile hike for two more vistas. Second parking area in National Forest. Also see Dugger Creek Falls here.
Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, 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 round-trip, moderate) Enjoy spectacular mountaintop views overlooking Linville Gorge. We love to hike this and nearby Table Rock on 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.
Chimneys Hike Linville Gorge
Chimneys Hike, Linville Gorge
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike across and through towering rock formations called the Chimneys atop the rim of the spectacular Linville Gorge, starting at the Table Rock trailhead parking area.
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 round-trip, strenuous) Located near Lake James, a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
Linville Gorge
Linville Gorge
Find some of the most spectacular scenery with many hikes along the rim to peaks like Table Rock, Hawksbill and Shortoff. And don't forget Linville Falls!
Wiseman's View Linville Gorge
Wiseman's View
See the spectacular panoramic view of Linville Gorge at Wiseman's View in Pisgah National Forest, overlooking Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains. Near Linville Falls.
Henry River Village, NC
Henry River Village
Take a tour of this ghost town near Morganton that is coming back to life with tours, events, paranormal experiences and more. Film location for The Hunger Games, District 12.
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
Morganton Festival
September 07, 2018 to September 08, 2018
A big street festival in downtown Morganton that includes fine arts and crafts, festival cuisine, a beer garden, 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 04, 2018 to July 07, 2018
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, 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 Distilleries.)

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 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 the... read more
Great news! A ghost town near Asheville has come back to life in 2018. The Henry River mill village has been abandoned since the 1970s. It came back to life briefly for filming of the blockbuster... read more
Linville Gorge is one of Eastern America's most scenic and rugged gorges, created by the scouring action of the Linville River. Sometimes it is referred to as the "Grand Canyon of Eastern USA." The... read more
The 500,000+ acres of the Pisgah National Forest surrounding Asheville feature some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, and the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America... read more
Take a scenic drive in the mountains surrounding Asheville. Go over the rivers, through the woods and by waterfalls, with plenty of things to do along the way in the national parks and forests.... read more