Bring Fido to Rutherford County

Date: November 6, 2018

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The Dog-Friendly Guide to Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, and Forest City, NC

isabella-and-penelope-chimney-rock-2.pngIf you caught our post, The Pup’s Travel Guide to Lake Lure, NC, then you already know how much we love taking Isabella and Penelope to visit this little lake town nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains. 

Well, we recently teamed up with Rutherford County to showcase all of the best dog-friendly activities, accommodations, and restaurants throughout not only Lake Lure, but the neighboring towns of Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, and Forest City!

If you’re planning a trip to the Blue Ridge foothills and you want to bring your pup(s) along, keep on reading for a full recap of our journey for ideas of things to do on yours.

Chimney Rock, NC

Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock has so much to offer visitors traveling with dogs. 

We began our trip with a hike up to the peak of Chimney Rock. One of the great things about Chimney Rock State Park is that there are a variety of different hiking options for different skill levels, making it suitable for all sizes of dogs. Plus, if you’re not looking to hike far, but want to see the views, you can take your car almost all the way up to the top.

isabella-and-penelope-chimney-rock-3.pngTo get out some of Isabella and Penelope’s pent-up energy after a two-hour car ride the night before, we started at the bottom of the mountain and hiked the Four Seasons Trail to the Outcroppings Trail. The Four Seasons Trail is a moderate to strenuous-level trail that is 1.4 miles round trip with a 400-foot gain in elevation.

The Four Seasons Trail lets out on the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. When you meet this trail, you can go right to head to the Hickory Nut Falls or turn left to head to the Outcroppings Trail, which is what we did.

The Outcroppings Trail is a 0.4-mile round-trip hike that takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. Keep in mind, this trail is primarily stairs. There is an elevator that enables people to bypass the stairs, but the elevator is not dog-friendly so if Fido is with you, be prepared to climb the stairs. Outcroppings Trail offers some fantastic views of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village down below. 

isabella-and-penelope-chimney-rock-state-park.pngUpon reaching the peak at Outcroppings Trail, you can continue your hike, taking the Exclamation Point Trail (strenuous) to the Skyline Trail (moderate). These trails lead hikers up to the very top of the mountain and offer some incredible views! While we did not take these trails on our most recent visit, they are worth exploring if you’re planning on spending the whole day hiking around Chimney Rock.

While hiking back down the mountain, we took the Hickory Nut Falls Trail (moderate) out to see the waterfall before going back down the Four Seasons Trail to return to our car. 

You can view the trail map here.

Like I said before, the great thing about Chimney Rock is all the various trail options and the fact that you can drive all the way up to the Outcroppings Trail if you wish. So if you want to see the views, but you’re not interested in hiking the whole mountain, you can do that.

isabella-and-penelope-old-rock-cafe-chimney-rock-nc.pngChimney Rock Village Shops and Restaurants

After our hike, we spent the afternoon relaxing and exploring in Chimney Rock Village

We started with lunch at Old Rock Cafe, located right at the entrance/exit of Chimney Rock State Park. Old Rock Cafe has a huge back patio overlooking the Broad River where dogs are welcome to accompany you. With Southern staples such as fried green tomatoes, pecan chicken salad, homemade biscuits and gravy, fresh lemonade, and pimento burgers, Old Rock Cafe’s menu is chock full of delicious options. There’s even an array of grab ‘n go options so you can take your breakfast or lunch up into Chimney Rock State Park and eat with mountain views.

After lunch, we spent some time walking along the Broad River Walk and letting Isabella and Penelope wade in the water. 


isabella-and-penelope-coffee-on-the-rocks-chimney-rock-nc.pngNeeding a pick-me-up, we then visited Chimney Rock Village’s coffee shop, Coffee on the Rocks. The owner, Bruce, is a huge dog-lover and is super welcoming to all visitors - both human and canine. 

While we let Isabella and Penelope nap in the air conditioning for a little while, my husband and I enjoyed refreshing iced coffees while playing Checkers. 

After the girls rested, we made our way across the street to The Burntshirt Vineyards Tasting Room & Bistro, brand new to Chimney Rock Village. Let me tell you - the patio at Burntshirt has INCREDIBLE VIEWS! 

We spent the afternoon sipping refreshing North Carolina wines (the Lake Lure White Blend is AMAZING!), getting to know the friendly Burntshirt team, and Isabella and Penelope were soaking up all the love and attention from visitors. Dog people really are the best people!


As our day came to an end, we winded down next door at Medina’s Village Bistro with great food on the intimate patio. If you stop in for dinner, you have to try the Smoked Trout Dip and the Spaghetti Bolognese. 

Lake Lure, NC

The Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure

During our trip, we stayed at the Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure. The 3,000+ acre property offers dog-friendly lodging and plenty of things to do where your dog can accompany you. We stayed in a condo within Apple Valley, and it was the perfect size for two of us and Isabella and Penelope.

isabella-and-penelope-rumbling-bald-resort-sup-boarding.pngThe condo was complete with a queen-sized bed, a bathroom, a kitchen with a fridge, microwave, and utensils, and an enclosed patio. The patio was the perfect place to unwind at night with a glass of wine, and the pups enjoyed looking out for squirrels. What I liked about the Rumbling Bald Resort condo is that it felt like we were staying in our apartment; you forget that you’re staying at a hotel!

Our first night in Lake Lure, we dined at Legends on the Lake at the Rumbling Bald, a restaurant with a patio looking out onto the beach and Lake Lure. Open for lunch and dinner, Legends on the Lake offers an array of burgers, pizzas, and entrees. 

While staying at the Rumbling Bald Resort, we also took advantage of the many dog-friendly amenities by going SUP boarding with the dogs. We decided to go out on the lake first thing in the morning before many other people were on the water and it was a fantastic experience. The water was like glass! Isabella and Penelope enjoyed coasting along the water looking for fish and, of course, jumped off multiple times to swim in the water.

isabella-and-penelope-rumbling-bald-resort-lake-lure-nc.pngKeep in mind that if you decide to go SUP boarding at the Rumbling Bald, everyone - including the dogs - need to wear life jackets. I highly recommend this one from Kurgo.

Morse Park in Lake Lure

While in Lake Lure, we also spent a lot of time wandering around Morse Park. This area holds a special place in our hearts because it’s where my husband, Alex, and I got married, and Bella and Penny were our flower girls!

The entrance to the park is right by the Lake Lure Marina, and the park is literally a peninsula - it jets out into the lake with beautiful mountain and water views on all sides. There’s a long walking trail through the park, and there are tons of places to rest and enjoy the sights, bring a packed lunch, or fish. Plus, there’s even a hill you can climb up to get a bird's eye view from the park itself.


The Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival

During our trip, the Lake Lure Arts & Crafts Festival was also taking place. Held twice a year - in spring and autumn - the festival regularly boasts 90+ artisans, 10+ food vendors, live music and entertainment, and more.

isabella-and-penelope-scoop-ice-cream-lake-lure-nc.pngSince the festival is dog-friendly, we wandered around with Isabella and Penelope checking out the various products, artwork, and foods. We love meeting local business owners, and festivals like these are so fun to visit when exploring a new area. 

Of course, we had to stop for ice cream at Scoop. Bella and Penny thoroughly enjoyed their scoop of vanilla!

Rutherfordton, NC

Just outside of Lake Lure is Rutherfordton. In fact, it’s on the way to Lake Lure if you’re coming from Charlotte, NC like us. Rutherfordton is one of the oldest towns in western North Carolina and was once home to Christopher Bechtler, the man who minted America’s first one-dollar gold coin.

While we were in Rutherfordton, we stopped by Paws & Purrs Barkery & Boutique off of Main Street. I mean, when traveling with dogs, how could you pass up the opportunity to go shopping, right?

Another cool thing about Rutherfordton? It’s home to the charming Carrier Houses Bed & Breakfasts, which are dog-friendly, and the small town is only continuing to become more pet-friendly. More restaurants are set to open up with dog-friendly patios within the next year.

purple-martin-greenway-rutherfordton-isabella-and-penelope.pngThe Purple Martin Greenway

Afterward strolling down Main Street, we went walking on the Purple Martin Greenway, Rutherfordton’s first natural trail system. A little over a mile long, it’s a great way to get some puppy energy out before grabbing a bite to eat or heading in for the night. The foliage along the Purple Martin Greenway is beautiful, and there’s even a stream that runs along the path too. 

Walking along the greenway with the dogs, you almost forget you’re right outside of downtown Rutherfordton.

isabella-and-penelope-forest-city-nc.pngForest City, NC

The last stop on our trip was Forest City, NC and let me tell you - it’s rightfully named. The small town is lined with beautiful, tall trees and there are some stunning murals on several buildings. We had never been through Forest City before and located only six miles outside of Rutherfordton, it was so worth the trip!

The Copper Penny Grill

We wandered around the town with the girls before settling down for dinner at the Copper Penny Grill. There was quite a bit of outside seating in the front of the restaurant, so we were able to have the dogs with us while we dined. 

isabella-and-penelope-copper-penny-grill-forest-city-nc.pngIt was a cool atmosphere as all the trees on Main Street lit up around us as we were eating. The staff was so personable, sharing all kinds of information about Forest City and the surrounding areas with us as we were unfamiliar. It’s always refreshing to learn about new places from the people who call it home! 

And the food was delicious! The Copper Penny is a five-star dining experience right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Foothills… and better yet, it’s dog-friendly!

Plan Your Trip to Rutherford County!

And that wraps up our trip to Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, and Forest City! We had so much fun exploring Rutherford County and scouting out all the best dog-friendly things to do, places to eat, and places to stay to share with you. If you didn’t catch our live Instagram Stories while we were there, we have them saved on our profile here.

If you’re looking to plan a trip to Rutherford County with your pup and you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! We love hearing from you! Or, feel free to reach out to our friends at The Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority Office

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Post Sponsored by Lake Lure & the Blue Ridge Foothills (Rutherford County, NC)