Winter Hikes Are The Best In Burke County

Burke County, NC
February, 2023

Winter is the perfect time to come explore Burke County. With no obstruction from leaves, views of our waterways, lakes and mountains are so much more visible and exquisite. There will also not be as many people on the trails so you can spend as long as you like, taking in the views without feeling rushed or stressed to keep a certain pace. There are also less bugs, snakes, and other critters because they are hibernating for the winter. Lastly, with it not being as hot you don’t sweat as much so you can enjoy your trek even more! Below are some of our favorite winter hikes for you to explore next time you are in Burke County.
Fonta Flora State Trail- This trail will eventually connect downtown Morganton to downtown Asheville but currently 18+ miles are completed around Lake James. The most popular trail head starts on highway 126 and hikes through a wooded area near Lake James State Park. Normally during the warmer months the leaf cover makes it difficult to see the lake or surrounding mountains but this time of year there are many amazing views of both. It is an easy trail that is meant to do in segments so you can do as little or as much as you please. It is also a great beginning mountain bike trail.

Chestnut Knob Trail- This trail in South Mountain State Park is a moderate 5.3 miles out and back trail that is perfect for a day long hiking experience to burn off those holiday calories. It is a relatively steep trail but it is very defined with lots of trail blazes so it is easy to follow. The trail goes through the woods until you get to the top, but this time of year you are able to see so much more of the South Mountains as you are hiking.

Shortoff Mountain- This trail is a 5.5 mile out and back trail in the Linville Gorge that overlooks Lake James. It is considered a moderate trail but has many switchbacks and climbs approximately 1,200ft. Although the top is a bald and has 360 degree views year round, the ascent up the mountain is covered in trees and obscures views of Lake James. This time of year hikers have more sustained views which makes the hike more engaging the entire way.

Come see why Burke County is deemed “Nature’s Playground.”  Plan your visit today!

The Burke County Tourism Development Authority is located in Morganton, North Carolina, and serves the tourism interests of Burke County, NC.  Morganton is hailed as, “The Trailhead of Western North Carolina”, centrally located in Burke County. Our Visitor’s Center is full of information about unique attractions and activities in the area. Stop by and visit us! or visit

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