Discover the Best Things to Do in Old Fort, NC: A Comprehensive Guide

Things to Do in Old Fort, NC

Old Fort, North Carolina, is a small town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a charming destination that offers visitors a variety of activities to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the outdoors, learning about history, or sampling local cuisine, Old Fort has something for everyone.

One of the town’s main attractions is the Old Fort Railroad Museum, which features a retired caboose for visitors to explore. For those who enjoy hiking, Catawba Falls is a must-visit destination.

This picturesque waterfall is located just outside of town and offers a moderate hike that leads to a stunning view. In addition, the Mountain Gateway Museum is a great place to learn about the history of the region and the people who have called it home.

History of Old Fort

Old Fort, NC is a small town located in McDowell County, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town was named after a fort that was built there during the Revolutionary War. The fort was used to protect settlers from Cherokee attacks, and it was one of the westernmost outposts in North Carolina at the time.

After the war, Old Fort became a hub for transportation and commerce. The town was located at the intersection of two major stagecoach routes, and it was also a stop on the Western North Carolina Railroad. The railroad was built in the late 1800s to connect the town of Old Fort to the city of Charlotte, and it played a crucial role in the development of the region.

Today, Old Fort is a popular tourist destination, known for its rich history and natural beauty. Visitors can explore the town’s many historic sites, including the Old Fort Train Depot and the Mountain Gateway Museum. The museum features exhibits on the history of the region, including its Native American heritage, the Revolutionary War, and the development of the railroad.

In addition to its historic sites, Old Fort is also a gateway to the Pisgah National Forest, which offers miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or both, Old Fort is a must-visit destination in North Carolina.

Mountain Gateway Museum

The Mountain Gateway Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the history of Old Fort and mountain life. The museum is housed in a beautiful 1936 WPA stone building on the banks of historic Mill Creek.

Exhibits

The museum offers a range of educational exhibits covering topics related to the history of Old Fort and the surrounding area. Visitors can experience the past firsthand, learning about the people and culture which shaped our community. Some of the exhibits include:

  • Pioneer Day: This exhibit showcases the life of early settlers in the area, including their tools, clothing, and homes.
  • Gem and Mineral Collection: This exhibit features a collection of gems and minerals found in the surrounding mountains, including emeralds, rubies, and quartz.

Gem and Mineral Collection

The Gem and Mineral Collection is a highlight of the museum. The collection features a variety of gems and minerals found in the surrounding mountains, including emeralds, rubies, and quartz. Visitors can learn about the geology of the area and how these gems and minerals were formed.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum offers a number of educational programs and tours. Visitors can learn about the history of Old Fort and the surrounding area, as well as the culture and traditions of mountain life.

Overall, the Mountain Gateway Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the history of Old Fort and mountain life. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and the culture that shaped our community.

Outdoor Activities

Old Fort, NC, is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With its beautiful natural surroundings, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Here are some of the best outdoor activities to try in Old Fort.

Hiking and Biking Trails

Old Fort is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, which offers a wide range of hiking and biking trails. One of the most popular trails is the Catawba Falls Trail, which is a moderate 2.7-mile hike that takes you to a beautiful waterfall. Another great trail is the Andrews Geyser Trail, which is a 1.5-mile hike that takes you to a geyser that erupts every hour.

Waterfalls

Old Fort is home to several beautiful waterfalls, including Catawba Falls, which is a 100-foot waterfall that cascades down a series of rocks. Another great waterfall to visit is the Hickory Nut Falls, which is a 404-foot waterfall that is part of the Chimney Rock State Park.

Fishing

Old Fort is a great destination for fishing enthusiasts. The Catawba Angler is a popular fishing guide service that offers guided fishing trips on Lake James and other nearby lakes and rivers. There are also several great fishing spots in the area, including the Catawba River and the North Fork River.

Picnic Areas

Old Fort has several great picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal with family and friends. The Old Fort Picnic Area is a popular spot that offers picnic tables, grills, and restrooms. Another great picnic area is the Catawba Falls Picnic Area, which is located near the Catawba Falls Trail and offers picnic tables and restrooms.

In conclusion, Old Fort, NC, is a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With its beautiful natural surroundings, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Whether you are interested in hiking, biking, fishing, or picnicking, Old Fort has something to offer.

Railroad History

Old Fort, NC has a rich history in railroad transportation. The town was a strategic location for the Western North Carolina Railroad, which opened in 1858, connecting Salisbury to Morganton. The railroad played a vital role in the development and growth of Old Fort and the surrounding areas. Today, visitors can learn about the town’s railroad history through various attractions and activities.

Old Fort Railroad Museum

The Old Fort Railroad Museum is a must-visit destination for railroad enthusiasts. The museum features many artifacts and exhibits showcasing the town’s rich railroad history. Visitors can see items from the old railroading days, including tools, equipment, and photographs. The museum also features a model depicting the construction of the Western NC Railroad through the Blue Ridge in 1879.

Old Fort Ride House

The Old Fort Ride House is another popular attraction for those interested in railroad history. The ride house was built in 1910 and served as a place for railroad workers to rest and relax during their long journeys. Today, visitors can tour the ride house and learn about the daily life of railroad workers during the early 1900s. The ride house also hosts various events and activities throughout the year, including train rides and historical reenactments.

In summary, Old Fort, NC has a rich history in railroad transportation, and visitors can explore this history through various attractions and activities. The Old Fort Railroad Museum and the Old Fort Ride House are two must-visit destinations for those interested in learning about the town’s railroad history.

Local Events

Old Fort is a small town in North Carolina that has plenty of events throughout the year. Here are some of the most popular events that happen in Old Fort:

Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day is an annual event that celebrates the town’s history and heritage. The event usually takes place in September and features live music, food vendors, and craft booths. Visitors can also take part in various activities, such as candle making, blacksmithing, and spinning.

North Carolina Gold Festival

The North Carolina Gold Festival is held every June in Old Fort. The festival celebrates the town’s gold mining heritage and features gold panning demonstrations, live music, food vendors, and craft booths. Visitors can also take part in a treasure hunt and try their luck at finding real gold.

Jerdon Mountain Challenge

The Jerdon Mountain Challenge is a mountain biking race that takes place in Old Fort every year. The race takes riders through the beautiful Pisgah National Forest and features challenging terrain and steep climbs. The event usually takes place in October and attracts riders from all over the country.

Pisgah Enduro

The Pisgah Enduro is a two-day mountain biking race that takes place in Old Fort. The race features some of the most challenging terrain in the area and attracts riders from all over the world. The event usually takes place in May and includes live music, food vendors, and craft booths.

Old Fort has plenty of events throughout the year that cater to all interests. Whether you’re interested in history, mountain biking, or just having a good time, there’s something for everyone in this charming town.

Where to Stay and Eat

Old Fort, NC is a small town with a limited number of lodging and dining options. However, the town offers some unique and charming places to stay and eat.

Cabins

If you are looking for a cozy and rustic place to stay, Old Fort has some great cabin options. The following table provides a brief overview of some of the popular cabin rentals in the area:

Cabin Name Location Amenities Price Range
Newberry Creek Old Fort Hot tub, fireplace, full kitchen $150-$250 per night
Catawba Falls Campground Old Fort Full hookup RV sites, tent sites, cabins $35-$150 per night
Point Lookout Trail Old Fort Hiking trails, cabins, RV sites $20-$100 per night

Restaurants

Old Fort offers a variety of dining options, from classic burgers to eclectic meals. Here are some of the popular restaurants in the area:

Hillman Beer

Hillman Beer is a must-visit for beer lovers. This brewery offers a wide range of beers, from classic IPAs to experimental brews. The brewery also has a spacious outdoor seating area, making it a great spot to enjoy a drink with friends.

Cultura

Cultura is a farm-to-table restaurant that serves fresh and creative dishes using locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes frequently, but some of the popular dishes include the roasted chicken and the grilled salmon.

The Burger Barn

The Burger Barn is a classic American diner that serves juicy burgers, crispy fries, and milkshakes. The restaurant also has a cozy outdoor seating area, making it a great spot to enjoy a meal with family.

Overall, Old Fort offers some unique and charming places to stay and eat. Whether you want to stay in a cozy cabin or enjoy a delicious meal, Old Fort has something for everyone.

Things to See and Do

Old Fort, NC is a charming town with plenty to offer visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or an art lover, you’ll find something to enjoy in Old Fort. Here are a few of the top things to see and do in the area.

Kitsuma Peak

Kitsuma Peak is a popular hiking destination in Old Fort. The trailhead is located just off of Route 70, and the hike to the summit is about 2.5 miles each way. The trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. At the summit, you’ll find a picnic area and a historic fire tower that you can climb for even better views.

Arrowhead Gallery and Studios

Arrowhead Gallery and Studios is a must-visit for art lovers. This gallery features the work of over 20 local artists, including painters, photographers, and sculptors. You’ll find a wide range of styles and mediums represented here, from abstract paintings to pottery. The gallery also hosts regular events and workshops, so be sure to check their calendar before you visit.

Catawba Vale

Catawba Vale is a historic site in Old Fort that is worth a visit. This site was once home to a thriving community of Catawba Indians, and you can still see the remnants of their village today. The site features a museum with exhibits on Catawba history and culture, as well as a reconstructed Catawba hut. You can also take a guided tour of the site to learn more about its history.

These are just a few of the top things to see and do in Old Fort, NC. Whether you’re interested in hiking, art, or history, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this charming town.

Nightlife

Old Fort, NC may be a small town, but it offers a variety of nightlife options for visitors and locals alike. Whether you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, enjoy live music, or dance the night away, Old Fort has something for everyone.

One popular nightlife spot in Old Fort is Hillman Beer. This brewery and taproom offers a wide selection of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, and lagers. Visitors can enjoy their drinks inside the cozy taproom or outside on the spacious patio. Hillman Beer also hosts regular events, such as trivia nights and live music performances.

Another popular nightlife spot in Old Fort is Cultura. This Latin-inspired restaurant and bar offers a unique atmosphere and a menu of delicious cocktails and small plates. Visitors can enjoy their drinks and food inside the colorful restaurant or outside on the patio. Cultura also hosts regular events, such as salsa dancing lessons and live music performances.

For those looking for a more laid-back nightlife experience, Old Fort has several bars and taverns to choose from. Town Pump Tavern is a popular spot for locals, offering a casual atmosphere and a selection of beers and cocktails. Mulligan Mack’s After5 is another popular spot, offering pool tables, darts, and a jukebox.

Overall, Old Fort may be a small town, but it offers a variety of nightlife options for visitors and locals alike. From craft breweries to Latin-inspired bars to casual taverns, there’s something for everyone in Old Fort’s nightlife scene.