For the longest paved greenway for biking, jogging and walking near Asheville, head to Rutherford County to explore the 13.5-mile Thermal Belt Rail Trail. The converted rail line was completed in 2019 with a 12-foot wide trail connecting the towns of Ruth, Rutherfordton, Spindale and Forest City - with plenty to see along the way. Stop for shopping, restaurants and historic sites.
Pick a section perfect for your outing. The Northern Section (Mile 0 to 5) is more rural with long stretches between cross streets - making it the best for nonstop biking. The Southern Section (Mile 5 to 13.5) takes you through the towns with more stops, dining and things to do. Elevation changes are gentle, so it's great for the entire family. The natural forest canopy provides shade on much of the route. Dogs are welcome on a leash.
Find seven parking areas along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail:
Thermal Belt Rail Trail Tips
The name "thermal belt" (also called isothermal) refers to the unique local geographical setting that creates warmer temperatures along the southern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The milder temperature contributes to longer growing seasons than in the immediate surrounding region thanks to protection from the nearby higher peaks.
Go to the Thermal Belt Rail Trail website for more details and updates.
Have lunch at the soda fountain, see an amazing collection of vintage cars and catch a baseball game in small town American. Every winter, the Forest City’s Hometown Holidays celebration lights up Main Street with more than one million lights.
Explore one of the oldest towns in Western North Carolina, with historic antebellum homes and a downtown filled with shops, restaurants and one of the best children's museums in the state. And it's the site of the first minted gold coins in the USA!
Lake Lure & Rutherford County Guide
Order a free copy of the award-winning travel guide to the Rutherford County foothills that includes Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, Forest City and much more!
Get Our Free Email Updates
Get our digest of travel news, new activities and attractions, travel giveaways, and seasonal events in Asheville and the North Carolina Mountains.
Even if you are a not a car nut, you'll love this museum with lots of personality in Forest City. Named “Best Museum in the Nation” by the Antique Automobile Club of...
In 1832, Christopher Bechtler minted America's first gold coin in Rutherfordton, 17 years before the U.S. Mint. During the mid-1800s, the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24...