Nature and Outdoor Recreation in Morganton, NC

For nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, few places rival Western NC. There are so many opportunities to step outdoors for fresh air and invigorating activities.

Our trails lead you to stunning bluffs and waterfalls, clear lakes for canoeing, greenways, and mountain overlooks that have made the Blue Ridge Mountains legendary. Pick apples at an orchard, explore caverns in Linville, ride a horse by a mountain stream, watch wildlife at Grandfather Mountain, or seek treasures at nearby gem mines.

Just steps from our door, you’ll find Catawba Meadows Park, complete with a municipal greenway that meanders along the picturesque Catawba River. In addition to special seasonal events, the park houses a 17-hole disc golf course, sand volleyball courts, softball and baseball fields and picnic shelters (your grandkids will thank you)!

Our partnership with Mimosa Hills allows Grace Ridge residents to enjoy a complimentary membership to one of North Carolina’s top-ranked golf facilities. Just 10 minutes away from Grace Ridge, the 1929 Donald Ross-designed course offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and an old-style layout.

After a round on the links, head to the clubhouse for a casual bite with friends. Make it a special date night with couples golf and dinner or cosmic putting under the stars. Or check out other social events like wine tasting, ladies yoga, murder mystery dinner theater and trivia.

mountains in North Carolina

Scenic Drives

  • Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s most iconic scenic drives
  • Brown Mountain Overlook and mysterious Brown Mountain Lights
  • Wiseman’s View Overlook with stunning views of the 1,200-foot deep Linville Gorge
  • Grandfather Mountain featuring the Mile-High Bridge (37 miles)
  • Lake James State Park (no better place for a picnic!)
  • Lake James Loop
  • Mount Mitchell State Park, home to the tallest peak east of the Mississippi! (55 miles)
  • South Mountain State Park with enchanting waterfalls
  • Table Rock Mountain, extending views of our entire region
  • Pisgah National Forest
a group of residents go hiking together

Hiking/Biking Trails

  • Catawba River Greenway Trail (4.2-mile paved walking & biking trail)
  • Grandfather Mountain Trail (Linville)
  • High Shoals and Shinny Creek Loop Trails (South Mountain State Park)
  • Linville Falls Trail (Linville)
  • Shortoff Mountain Trail (Lake James State Park)
  • Table Rock Trail (Morganton)
  • The Western Burke Classic (bike trail through the South Mountains)
  • Upper Lake James Loop (bike trail around Lake James)



Water Recreation

If you enjoy boating, kayaking or just dipping your toes in a lake, Burke County features many rivers and lakes. Don’t miss Lake Rhodhiss; Lake Hickory; and Morganton’s own jewel, Lake James. Or stop by the Catawba River Outpost for fishing or a canoeing expedition.

Off the Beaten Path

Looking for something really different? Fly below the trees with Beanstalk Ziplines or hit the ski slopes in Boone and Banner Elk just 40 miles north of Morganton. Mine for gems and emeralds at Spruce Pine Gem Mines or Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, NC, both less than an hour away. You can also try your hand at prospecting at Thermal City Gold Mine in nearby Union Mills.

Morgantown features a number of museums, galleries, theaters, festivals and other fun and interesting activities for you to enjoy.

Morgantown features a number of museums, galleries, theaters, festivals and other fun and interesting activities for you to enjoy.

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