Excellent views, no snakes.
Winter hiking in Burke County can be “spectacular” according to Ed Phillips, director of tourism.
The Burke County Tourism Development Authority is launching its first-ever effort to market the area as a winter hiking destination.
“We have a moderate climate without harsh winters or really hot summers, so we’re pretty much a year-round destination for outdoor adventurers,” Phillips says. The organization’s new “Winter Hikes, Excellent Views” brochure features five unique winter hiking trails as well as cross-country skiing information. Most all of these trails offer incredible views of the countryside and mountains around Burke County.
Recommended trails are: Shortoff Mountain and Hawksbill near the Linville Gorge Wilderness, High Shoals Falls Trail in South Mountains State Park, Overmountain Victory Trail in Lake James State Park, and Cross-Country Skiing along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trails range from easy to difficult and offer something for all skill levels.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the northern edge of Burke County and when it snows and the Parkway is closed, cross-country skiers flock to the road. Cross-country ski rentals can be found in Morganton at CBS Sports on highway 181.
Promotion of the winter hikes takes a humorous twist as it promises hikes without the worry of “snakes.” Phillips says, “There are snakes in Burke County, but they are all in hibernation around the first of November. So, keep your head up, enjoy the views and don’t worry about any snakes.”
“Traveling from east of here, Burke County is really the first experience of feeling like you are in the mountains,” Phillips says. “This is where you enter the mountains coming from Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, or anywhere east. This really is the ‘trail head’ to Western North Carolina: You get a taste of the mountains, the cultural amenities of Morganton and easy access to the Blue Ridge.”
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– Text & image courtesy Burke County Tourism