Scenic USA - North Carolina

Pisgah Loop Scenic Byway

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Pisgah Loop Scenic Byway - Morganton, North Carolina

Photos by Ben Prepelka

     Thanks to land owner John D. Rockefeller Jr. Autumn Maple - Pisgah Forest, North Carolina who refused to harvest timber on his land, Linville Gorge is one of the few places in America that is covered in a virgin woodland forest. Massive white pines and hemlocks, tulip trees and Fraser magnolias represent a typical pristine forest setting that settlers first witnessed in the mid 1700s.
     The Pisgah Loop Scenic Byway offers sightseers a look at this pristine forestland and some of North Carolina's most picturesque, yet rugged landscapes. Set in the Great Smoky Mountains, the 47 mile byway begins at the edge of the Pisgah National Forest at the intersection of Route 181 and Fish Hatchery Road, just north of Morganton. Byway travelers will head north on Route 181 following Steele Creek, enjoying views of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain. Just past Jones Ridge, the byway follows Route 183, paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway and passing the Linville Gorge Pisgah Forest Overlook - North Carolina Visitor Center. Heading southward, byway travelers are introduced to the rugged and unpaved Old N.C. Route 105 (S.R. 1238). Winding along the mountain crests and through the Linville Gorge National Wilderness area, the Linville River and gorge lie 2000 feet below the road’s edge. This rugged section of the byway is recommended for standard length four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Dog Back Mountain, Lake James, and the Catawba River Valley lie ahead. The byway finishes up on solid ground (a paved Route 126) not far from the starting point at Morganton. Here, byway travelers may stop for a picnic lunch at Lake James State Park.

   Byway Map

Nearby Points of Interest


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