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Walking the Beautiful Lake Lure Flowering Bridge in North Carolina

Built in 1925, repurposed in 2013, the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is a gorgeous pedestrian bridge and attraction in the lake town.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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When a 90-year-old concrete bridge was slated for demolition, residents clamored to save it. But they didn’t want to save it for vehicular use – the bridge was unsuitable for continued use on a motor highway. Instead, they wanted to save it as a pedestrian path. And then they covered it with flowers.

I had been driving all day and was eager to check into my room at The Carter Lodge – a comfortable roadside motel with a captivating view of Chimney Rock. My eyes were steadfastly focused on the two-lane road – so focused that I almost didn’t see the bridge covered in blooming flowers.

Checking in at the motel, I asked Brenda Carter about the bridge. “Oh, that’s the Flower Bridge. You really need to check it out.”

The Flowering Bridge? My interest was piqued, my travel itinerary just changed, and now I had a story to follow.

The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge seen from the new bridge built for traffic along US Highway 74.

The Rocky Broad River Bridge

Dr. Lucious Morse traveled into the Hickory Nut Gorge on horseback in 1900. Immediately falling in love with the mountains, he bought thousands of acres. Standing on Chimney Rock with his wife, Elizabeth, Morse announced his plans to build a dam at the far end of the gorge and create a lake. “It will be sure to lure people,” his wife commented.

In 1925, a three-arched concrete bridge was built over the Broad River for the first highway through the Hickory Nut Gorge. The bridge allowed the passage of construction equipment and materials for Morse’s dam, completed in 1927.

For nearly 90 years, the Rocky Broad River Bridge carried thousands of vehicles across the river along US Highways 74 and 64 and NC Highway 9. But then, in 2011, the North Carolina Department of Transportation deemed the bridge unsuitable for traffic and irreparable. Plans were announced to demolish the old bridge and build a new one in its place.

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The Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

When NCDOT announced plans to demolish the Rocky Broad River Bridge, residents and frequent visitors sprang into action to save the old bridge. Kathy Tanner was one of the founding members of the non-profit Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. At the time, she lived two hours away in Waxhaw on a farm where she raised ponies. But her hobby was gardening, and it was something she wanted to bridge to Lake Lure.

NCDOT agreed to transfer the bridge to the Town of Lake Lure and build the new bridge adjacent. The bridge was saved, but the work had just started.

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The non-profit organization raised nearly $20,000 to enhance the Rocky Broad River Bridge, connecting it to a three-quarter-mile walking path along the lakeshore. Raised flower beds were built on the bridge, flowers planted, and benches installed.

After three years of driving back and forth between Lake Lure and Waxhaw during the initial work, Kathy Tanner finally sold the family farm and moved to the mountain town. Since then, she has served as the origination’s president and continues to work on the gardens.

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From the middle of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, pedestrians can see the Rocky Broad River flowing into Lake Lure.

Visiting the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

It’s 155 feet long and 20 feet wide, though you wouldn’t know it by walking across it. The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is part of the three-quarter Town Center Walkway, and the bridge seamlessly connects to the trail at either end.

A serpentine path across the old bridge winds around raised flower gardens. Interpretive signs name each plant and offers a description for the curious. A few benches scattered here and there offer the chance to enjoy the beauty of the bridge covered in flowers.

Park at either end of the bridge for a short walk, or you can leave the car at the nearby marina at Morse Park.

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The Carter Lodge is a quaint roadside motel with comfortable rooms, and those balconies provide a captivating view of Chimney Rock.

Where to Stay

Between Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, there are dozens of rental homes and mountain cabins that would make an excellent place to stay during a getaway. Check the Booking.com website to see what might be available for your travel dates – or check out one of these recommended properties.

Budget

The Carter Lodge is literally a roadside motel – only a narrow gravel parking lot separates it from the highway. The renovated rooms with updated bathrooms feature balconies or patios with stunning views of Chimney Rock. Choose from rooms with two full beds, a single queen bed, or a king bed.

The Chimney Rock Inn & Cottages are a budget-friendly option in the lake town. The small rooms feature outdated furniture, but the outdoor swimming pool and stunning views make up for it. Choose from rooms two full beds, a single queen bed, or a variety of suites that include a sleeper sofa.

The Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground is locally owned and operated by Robin and Bennett Phillips, the third generation of the family who began the campground in 1970. Located along the Broad River at the edge of Chimney Rock Village, the campground features a commanding view of the 404-foot-tall waterfall. The cozy campground includes back-in RV sites, tent sites, and log cabins.

Moderate

The Broad River Inn is another bed and breakfast located at the very edge of the shopping district in Chimney Rock Village. New owners have worked hard to revamp the menu – opening the restaurant for lunch and dinner – and providing quality service to guests. Choose between rooms with a queen or king bed, and be sure to book a balcony room for a stunning view!

Luxury

The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa was the original hotel built by the Morse family shortly after construction on the dam was complete. The towering hotel – the largest in town – is located across the street from the beach and offers breathtaking views of the lake. The hotel features 69 guest rooms and suites and 3 cabins for rent.

The Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant is a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Chimney Rock Village and one of my top recommendations for places to stay. Take advantage of the outdoor swimming pool, on-site restaurant, and peaceful garden during your visit. Rooms include private bathrooms, stunning views, and rustic mountain décor. 

Pro Travel Tip

Planning to spend more than a few days in a cabin or rental home with a full kitchen? You’ll need supplies. Fortunately, the one modern amenity available in Lake Lure is an Ingles Market. It’s located on NC Highway 9 near the dam on the east end of the lake. The market has all the groceries you could need along with fresh meats, a deli that serves hot lunches, and wine and beer.

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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