Regardless of the season, the Blue Ridge Mountains shine in McDowell County, N.C. Numerous campgrounds make it an ideal location for those who prefer to stay close to the action.
Within Pisgah National Forest, Curtis Creek Campground is an idyllic spot beside a refreshing trout stream just a short walk to miles of trails, including six miles of mixed-use trail designed for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians opening in June 2022. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls Campground, Milepost 339.5, features 81 tent and RV sites with easy access to the 70-foot waterfall while Bear Den Campground, Milepost 324.8, offers camping options or cabin rentals with an onsite fishing pond and trails.
Fall asleep to the sounds of the river at Catawba Falls Campground, enjoy the views of Mount Mitchell from Sky Island Retreat, cool off in the lake, creek, pool, and water slide at Hidden Creek Camping Resort, or stay in one of the bunk lodges at Camp Grier. Gold River Camp, a new site, offers tent, cabin, and creekside tiny homes in an area known for gold mining. A number of RV parks, including Buck Creek Campground, Mountain Stream RV Park, Mountain Paradise Campground, and Camping World, provide a laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the setting.
Surrounded by 70,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest, the steep slopes of the escarpment create ideal conditions for mountain biking and hiking. Be sure to check out Woods Mountain Trail, a 26-mile loop that crosses the Mountain-to-Sea Trail, and Snook’s Nose, a trail for the experienced hiker with long-range views from Green Knob Lookout Tower. Stop by Flavors on Main or Old Fort Outdoors for any gear you might have left at home or maps of the area. The Old Fort Ride House rangers also provide expert trail details, maps, and info.
At the end of the day, unwind at a restaurant in Marion, including Marion Wing Factory, Toonez Chop House, Burrito Bros, McDowell Local, and Crabby Abby’s Bar & Grill. Don’t miss The Feisty Goldfish, a funky retro arcade and bar, or the Spillway Bridge, a music hall and bar supporting regional artists.
Walk downtown Old Fort or catch a Sunday outdoor performance at the Mountain Gateway Museum. Hillman Beer is the perfect spot to swap stories and grab a beer before heading back to your campsite for another night in the mountains of McDowell County.
Photos courtesy of McDowell County
Cover photo: Kayaking Catawba River