Art lovers, nature lovers, photography enthusiasts and those seeking a little adventure will find precisely what they’re looking for in Burnsville, NC. A treasure trove of natural beauty, Burnsville offers its visitors tokens not readily found elsewhere – an often untouched landscape, a cold and rushing stream, a piece of unique artwork. For those keen on exploring the magic of Western North Carolina, a visit to Burnsville is a must.
Things to Do:
Mt. Mitchell, the area’s most popular attraction, is not just the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains, but the highest peak East of the Mississippi River. Visitors from all over the world hike its trails, swim in its swimming holes, and behold the view from the summit. Dozens of trails to the top, ranging in difficulty, are available to hikers and it is just a short but beautiful scenic drive to the observation deck. Views from the top are breathtaking and expansive - worth every moment of the ascent.
Burnsville is in a prime location for trail access in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mountain bikers, avid hikers, nature lovers, and casual strollers find themselves drawn to the majestic beauty of the area and awestruck upon departure. Alive with the sweet trill of songbirds, vibrant with the splash of wildflowers, the mountains and valleys in Burnsville offer visitors something unique and powerful to take home with them. Below are some popular hikes of which to take note:
Briar Bottom Trail
A short 1.2 mile trail, Briar Bottom follows the South Toe River upstream. Hikers will pass though hemlock groves before crossing rustic bridges built from the forest’s yellow locust trees. Expect an easy hike with plenty of bird sightings. To get to this hike from Downtown Burnsville, travel East on US 19E to Highway 80 South. Travel 11.6 miles on 80 South, passing the Mt. Mitchell Golf Course, then turn right on Forest Service Road 472. The road will turn to gravel before arriving at an intersection - take a right at this intersection. Follow the road until you reach a parking lot where you will see a bulletin board with trail maps and area information.
Higgins Bald Gap Trail
A more moderate hike, Higgins Bald Gap Trail is a 1.3 mile section of the Mountains to the Sea Trail. Hikers can expect to see plenty of local flora and fauna as they pass through the breathtaking beauty of red spruce groves. To get to this hike from Downtown Burnsville, follow directions to Briar Bottom Trail - there are multiple trailheads located at the parking lot.
Bald Knob Ridge Trail
Also rated "moderate”, the Bald Knob Ridge Trail extends 2.8 miles up a ridge before reaching a summit which offers breathtaking and expansive views of the Black Mountains. Though the switchbacks provide for a difficult ascent, the sight from the top is well worth the effort. To get to this hike from Downtown Burnsville, follow directions to Briar Bottom Trail. Instead of pulling in to the parking lot on Forest Service Road 472, continue on until you pass the Buncombe Horse Range Trail Sign. Bald Knob Ridge Trail is marked with a trailhead sign.
Mt. Mitchell Trail
Mt. Mitchell Trail is a strenuous 5.5 mile hike that leads to the peak of Mt. Mitchell. Hikers will finish the hike at an elevation of 6,684 ft – an excellent feat of endurance which will end with a rewarding view of the mountains and valleys below. The Mt. Mitchell State Park Museum is conveniently situated at the end of the journey. To get to this hike from Downtown Burnsville, follow directions to Briar Bottom Trail. The trailhead is located next to the bulletin board at the edge of the parking lot.
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A History of Craft
Western North Carolina has a strong and vibrant history based in craft. Our Appalachian heritage has instilled in us a deep respect for the resources around us and our artists have taken that respect and created beautiful work based in area traditions. There are dozens of opportunities in the Burnsville area to see this craft movement at play, any one of which will prove to be both family friendly and exciting.
Yancey County, and Burnsville in particular, has a vibrant history based in folk arts and crafts.
Visitors to the area may enjoy taking one of 7 different quilt trails, each one meandering through the beautiful countryside surrounding downtown Burnsville. Explore the quaint farm estates, the beautiful back roads, and the magic of the mountains.
Toe River Arts Council
Burnsville is home to some truly remarkable artists and craftsmen, many of whom open their studios to visitors who wish to learn more about the creative process. The Toe River Arts Council, located in downtown Burnsville, contains a gift shop where the works of local artists are featured. More information about the area, the local studios and the local
galleries can also be found there.
Penland School of Craft
The Penland School of Craft is a renowned center of craft education. Students from all over the world travel to study under Penland’s instructors and it is a true Burnsville treasure. Book and paper making, pottery, sculpture, glasswork, ironwork, and many more crafts are learned and practiced within the walls of this fantastic area resource. Visitors are welcome and encouraged anytime and access to the gallery, where visitors can view and purchase work made by artists associated with the school, is open 7 days a week.
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The forests and rivers of Western North Carolina are filled with precious stones. Aquamarine, emerald, tourmaline, sapphire – these are but a few of the treasures to be found at any one of the local gem mines. Gem mining is an important part of the area’s heritage – with a rich well of natural resources ranging from the more utilitarian minerals like mica and feldspar to the fine, luxury stones like ruby and amethyst, the environment surrounding Burnsville is a hotbed of mining activity. Today, visitors can partake in the excitement of mining their own precious stones at any of the following locations:
Spruce Pine Gem Mine
The Spruce Pine Gem Mine has a long history dating back over 200 years. Indeed, the family that owns the site holds the illustrious honor of being known by the Smithsonian Institute as the oldest continuing mining family in the nation. Visitors to the mine will not only have access to the extensive history of the era, but will actually mine for their own gems from the finest gem ore taken from native gem mines. Spruce Pine Gem Mine is located 18.5 miles from Downtown Burnsville, in Spruce Pine, NC.
Emerald Village is a full day trip in and of itself. Located just 14.5 miles from Downtown Burnsville in Little Switzerland, NC, Emerald Village transports you to a totally different time and place. Take an underground tour of the Bon Ami Mine, complete with a history lesson on the area and the thrill of being up close and personal with the Bon Ami Waterfall. Or, for the diggers among us, purchase a Gem Bucket and mine for your own special treasures. Tours of the Discovery Mill, rugged adventures in the world renowned Crabtree Emerald Mine, and After Dark Black Light tours of the underground mine are also available.
Located just 17 miles east of Downtown Burnsville, in Spruce Pine, NC, Gem Mountain offers several mines for visitors to explore. Rockhounds can expect to unearth mainly aquamarine, as this location primarily sources the beautiful green and blue gemstone. A perfect outing for families, friends, adventurers and curious travelers, Gem Mountain will leave you feeling excited and flushed with the glow of discovery.
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Mountain Air Country Club
As Burnsville’s premier private club, Mountain Air Country Club offers the community and its visitors some of the best family-oriented fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With a private air strip, fine dining options, golf and tennis courses, and hundreds of acres of hiking, Mountain Air Country Club offers its patrons some of the finest amenities in the area.
For those interested in staying on the sprawling estate, contact Carolina Mornings to learn more about our rental options.
Where to Stay
Renting a vacation home in Burnsville is a rewarding endeavor. Whether you're looking to bring your family back to nature or explore the hidden magic in the forests of North Carolina, the beauty of the area will leave you with a truly memorable experience. Carolina Mornings helps make the search for a Burnsville cabin an easy process. Our dedicated and knowledgeable Vacation Planners will work with you to create the ultimate mountain vacation. To learn more about renting your first cabin in Burnsville, contact Carolina Mornings at (844) 412-6881. Be sure to ask about our Mountain Discovery Pass, included with every Carolina Mornings Rental!