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Best Attractions of Hickory Nut Gorge North Carolina

By Editorial Staff

Hickory Ridgeby Info Guru Sara Shea

Hickory Nut Gorge, a spectacular, scenic region of Western North Carolina, is a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts and mountain lovers.

The gorge, carved over thousands of years by the Rocky Broad River, is a 20,000-acre, 14 mile canyon in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the base of the gorge lies majestic Lake Lure.

The region, which includes the communities of Gerton, Bat Cave, Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, and Bill’s Creek, has recently been featured in USA Today, Budget Travel Magazine and National Geographic. Pristine forests, rare geological formations, rugged cliffs and waterfalls draw hikers and rock climbers to Hickory Nut Gorge. Historic inns, lake-side resorts and rustic Appalachian cabins attract vacationers.

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10. Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge is celebrated for its flora and fauna and world-class hiking. The gorge is home to rare plants such as the federally endangered white irisette and the granite dome goldenrod, as well as rare animal species including the endangered green salamander and Indiana Bat. The area’s newest hiking trail is The Buffalo Creek Park Trail System. Phase one of this trail system was completed in 2014. Hikers will also enjoy the Ken’s Rock overlook and Weed Patch Mountain, which were saved from development when the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy acquired the tract in 2009.

9. Boating and water sports

boating and water sports

Boating and water sports are popular on Lake Lure. Private boat rentals, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, wake boarding, water skiing, fishing tours and even dinner cruises are all available on Lake Lure. Contact the Lake Lure Adventure Company or Lake Lure tours. Dinner cruises can be booked through Rumbling Bald Resort.

8. Rumbling Bald Resort

Rumbling Bald Resort

Nestled on the north shore of Lake Lure is Rumbling Bald Resort. The 2,900 acre resort boasts a private white sand beach, a marina, a children’s water park, three swimming pools, a spa and fitness center, restaurants, two championship golf courses and numerous hiking and biking trails.

7. Esmeralda Inn

Esmeralda Inn

In the early 1900’s, The Esmeralda Inn was a favorite spot of silent movie stars. Notables such as Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable and others used The Esmeralda as a hideout. Noted author Lew Wallace finished the script for Ben Hur in room number nine.

6. Horsey Set


Equestrian Activities are gaining popularity in the gorge. The 2014 grand opening of Tryon Resort and Equestrian center, a sprawling $100 million luxury resort in nearby Polk County, has brought more equestrian enthusiasts Riverside Riding Stables and Cedar Creek Riding Stables are two facilities that offer trail rides and equestrian activities around Lake Lure.

5. Rumbling Bald State Park

Rumbling Bad

Rumbling Bald State Park offers world-class bouldering and technical rock climbing with some of the best terrain in the Southeast. The climbing access site is just off Boys Camp Road at the western edge of the Town of Lake Lure.

4. The Lodge on Lake Lure

Lodge on Lake Lure

The Lodge on Lake Lure is a luxurious 1930s hotel surrounded by woods and flower gardens. It’s Tree Tops Dining Room offers panoramic views of Lake Lure and mountains.

3. Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing

The 1987 cult-classic movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in Hickory Nut Gorge. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey danced on the shores of Lake Lure. Every summer, Lake Lure is home to the Dirty Dancing Festival. Festival events, such as dance contests and lake-side movie screenings are held at Rumbling Bald Resort and at Morse Park.

2. Lake Lure Inn

Lake Lure Inn

Built in 1927, The Lake Lure Inn and Spa is an elegant and gracious NC landmark. Over the years, the Inn has hosted a diverse range of celebrities, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Emily Post, and Calvin Coolidge, to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey during the filming of “Dirty Dancing.”

1. Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock, the 535-million-year-old monolith for which Chimney Rock State Park is named, is considered one of the most iconic sites in North Carolina. Privately owned by the Morse family for more than 100 years, Chimney Rock was acquired by the state of North Carolina in 2007. The park features hiking trails, rock climbing, and a host of educational programs, events and activities.

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If you are planning a trip to Hickory Nut Gorge, be sure to contact the Welcome Center for additional visitor information. Peruse the Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber of Commerce website to learn about local events, businesses and outdoor activities.


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