Make the Most of Your Adventure on the Thermal Belt Rail Trail

Spend a day on this beautiful new trail that extends for more than 13 miles and unites small towns and communities across Rutherford County. The Thermal Rail Belt Trail was completed in 2019 to provide an outdoor escape for locals and visitors alike. This scenic path lies under the shade of a natural tree canopy and offers stunning views of the North Carolina foothills. The 12-foot-wide trail allows visitors to walk, run, bike, or commute between the towns of Ruth, Rutherfordton, Spindale, and Forest City. For more exciting adventures in the area, request access to our carefully curated Vacation Guide and start planning your adventure along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail today!

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Get Ready to Explore the Four Quaint Towns That Run Alongside the Thermal Belt Rail Trail

Dive Deep into North Carolina’s History in Rutherfordton

You can start your adventure on the trailhead at Oak Springs Road in Rutherfordton. As you make your way down the trail, you’ll get to see much of what Rutherfordton is all about. In the Downtown area, you’ll find yourself surrounded by small shops, restaurants, and rich history. One spot you must see along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail is the Bechtler Mint Site Historic Park, where the Bechtlers minted more than $2.24 million in gold coins in the mid-1800s.   

Ride Bikes Through the Town of Ruth 

Next on the Thermal Belt Rail Trail is the town of Ruth. This part of the 13-mile corridor is the best stretch for a biking adventure. For roughly 5 miles, the trail is wide open and has fewer shops, restaurants, and cross-streets, making it perfect for a non-stop ride through a tranquil neighborhood. 

Play a Game of Pickleball in Spindale

Stop by the Spindale House and get a dose of history from the 1920s. While you’re here, pop into one of the Pickleball courts. Grab a ball and a racquet and challenge your companion to a quick game of this unique racquet sport. Once you’ve declared a winner, head to downtown Spindale where you’ll find a variety of unique local shops and tasty restaurants. 

The Final Stop: Forest City  

You’ve reached the final stop on the scenic greenway! Here, you will find a variety of local shops, boutiques, and eateries, but perhaps the most popular spot in the picturesque downtown area is the fountain. Along the trail, you’ll also come across two bridges The first crosses over Highway 74, and the second sits just above a stretch of railroad tracks. Wherever you choose to go in this charming town, be sure to snap a few pictures! 

Useful Spots Along the Trail

As you make your way down the trail, you will find many useful amenities, including: 

  • Bike repair stations
  • Restrooms 
  • Water fountains 
  • Storm shelters 
  • Bike racks 
  • Information kiosks

Stay at The Esmeralda Inn, Restaurant and Spa

Bed view of the Chimney Rock River Cabin

After exploring the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, return to The Esmeralda and enjoy a restful night in our enchanting mountain inn. Our rooms feature beautiful decor and stunning views of the Western North Carolina Mountains. Picture your stay in our lovely Chimney Rock River Cabin. This private oasis features a stone fireplace, three bedrooms, and a porch that overlooks the roaring waters of the Broad River. 

Check our availability and start planning your dream getaway! We can’t wait to hear about all your amazing adventures in North Carolina.