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explore western north carolina

Rivers Ridge Lodge is approximately 3 miles from Interstate 40, Exit 75 (Parker Padgett Rd). We are located in the rural community of Old Fort, NC, roughly 5 miles from the quaint and historic center of town. In downtown Old Fort you will find no chain retailers - just a thriving artisan community, some great restaurants, the Mountain Gateway Museum, the Train Depot (housing a railroad museum, the Chamber of Commerce and McDowell County Tourism Authority), and great live music every Friday night. If you want to venture beyond Old Fort, check out some of our suggestions below. Western North Carolina has something for everyone!

Asheville’s crown jewel, Biltmore, was created by George Vanderbilt in 1895 as a retreat reminiscent of the grand castles and estates of France and Britain. Vanderbilt fell in love with the North Carolina mountains after visiting with his mother in the late 1880s.

Visiting Biltmore today is as close to time travel as you can experience. Touring Biltmore House, which includes upstairs as well as downstairs, usually requires at least two hours. It’s all self-guided, although there’s a topnotch audio tour that will enhance your experience and deep dive into history and what it must have been like to live at the estate. There are additional guided tours for the curious: rooftop tours, behind-the-scenes tours and tours of the property itself.

Olmsted’s formal gardens spread below Biltmore House like separate rooms – the Italian Garden with its long pools, the natural Shrub Garden and the English Walled Garden with its espaliered trees and seasonal floral pattern beds. It is easy to spend a whole day strolling the gardens and walking the estate’s beautiful trails, which spill out into forest and then farmland.

Beyond Biltmore House and grounds is Antler Hill Village, home of Biltmore’s winery, which opened in 1985. The winery is a true production facility bottling varietal wines using estate-grown fruit.

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Asheville is that type of unique, special place that lingers sweetly in your mind and memories for years to come. The city's rich architectural legacy with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Neoclassical styles is the perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that emanates from the locally owned-shops and art galleries, distinctive restaurants and exciting entertainment venues.


A bastion of cutting-edge art and technology in the Blue Ridge, the city also prides itself on its fascinating Appalachian past and celebrates this culture with annual events such as Shindig on the Green. While many cities underwent major overhauls in past decades, Asheville's historic and architecturally diverse downtown remains beautifully preserved.

There's something special about Asheville, and the world is just beginning to discover it. This thriving mountain city features a funky and eclectic downtown, 30-plus art galleries downtown alone, a burgeoning culinary scene, a thriving live music scene and, of course, the awe-inspiring scenery of the Appalachian Mountains.

Asheville is the ultimate playground, with a wide diversity of outdoor adventures and the ideal destination for an active and healthy getaway.

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Escape to Rivers Ridge Lodge for an unforgettable fly fishing
experience. With 3000 feet of river frontage, you are never more than a stone’s throw away from Rainbow Trout and Catfish. We stock the river annually, and only our guests have access to these waters. Guests are asked to provide their own fishing equipment.


North Carolina mandates that fishermen ages 16 and older must obtain a regular NC fishing license to fish our private waters at Rivers Ridge Lodge (a trout stamp is not required). A youth under the age of 16 accompanied by a properly licensed adult may fish without a license.


You may purchase licenses in advance through the NC Wildlife Resource Commission online. In Old Fort, licenses may be purchased at Faw’s Hardware: 11 Catawba Ave., Old Fort (828) 668-4548 or at Presnell’s General Merchandise: 2668 US 70 W between Old Fort & Marion (828) 724-4815. After business hours, licenses may be purchased at any Walmart.

New to the sport of fly fishing? Check out the NC Wildlife Loaner Program that works like a library and provides loaner rods and reels (free of charge) to anglers of all ages.

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Rock Climbing
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If the weather is favorable, save an afternoon to hike or cycle Point Lookout Trail just minutes from Rivers Ridge Lodge.  It is a gorgeous 3.62-mile (one way) paved path closed to motorized vehicles.  Surrounded by Pisgah National Forest, it climbs in elevation approximately 900 feet between Old Fort and Ridgecrest. Visit the McDowell Trails Association website to download the Point Lookout Trail Map.

The Black and Craggy Mountains, northeast of Asheville, are composed of Pisgah National Forest, watersheds, Mt. Mitchell State Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and privately held land.  Home to Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern United States, this area was considered for National Park Status earlier in the 20th century but lost to The Great Smokey Mountains.  The celebrated Craggy Gardens are located at milepost 364 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The “Craggies” are strikingly beautiful high heath balds that, at 5,500 ft elevation, are uncharacteristic of mountains in the area.  There are three hiking trails to chose from at Craggy Gardens:  Craggy Pinnacle Trail, the Craggy Gardens Self Guiding Trail, and the Mountains to Sea Trail. 

The Appalachian Trail courses through Western NC covering 88 miles in NC from Virginia to Georgia.  The “A.T.” mostly hugs the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and comes closest to Rivers Ridge Lodge near the Roan Mountain section about 30 minutes north of Spruce Pine.

For more hiking in Southern Appalachia, visit the Foothills Trail Conference website.

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