Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
A gateway to somewhere beautifulBy Lee Armstrong
Between Chimney Rock and Lake Lure in western Rutherford County, scenic highways merge to cross the Broad River (locally called the Rocky Broad). Here, a bridge is more than just a way to go over the water below.
On the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge a serpentine path winds through stone-faced raised garden beds. Plants rise out of these beds against the backdrop of a graceful balustrade from another era, a time when bridges were built for form as well as function. The bridge and its adjacent gardens also feature local artwork and ornaments that complement the scenic beauty of the Hickory Nut Gorge backdrop.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, once a bustling thoroughfare, is home today to an eclectic variety of blooms and bushes that pays homage to western North Carolina’s natural flora. This historic bridge built in 1925 was reclassified as a pedestrian walkway in 2011 when a new bridge was opened to traffic.
Volunteers came together to preserve and enhance the bridge, forming the Friends of the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. Over a two-year period, they sought donations and hired a landscape architectural firm to create a design for gardens. Plans in hand, the group prepared the bridge infrastructure to allow for its repurposing. They planted gardens on the east end of the bridge in late 2012, then on the bridge itself in April 2013.
The East Gardens lie along the pathway that begins on the other end of the Lake Lure Town Center and continues across the bridge. Also in the East Gardens is a handcrafted locust bench designed and built by a local artisan. Continued development of gardens is progressing at the bridge’s west end, to be developed further as funds become available. Eventually, the gardens will extend approximately 350 feet from end to end.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge has been recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. The bridge is also part of a year-round walk recognized by the American Volkssport Association.
Getting to the Flowering Bridge
Maps to the bridge are available at lakelurefloweringbridge.com. Access NC Hwy. 9 from US Hwy. 74 or US Hwy. 64 from I-26 in Hendersonville or Highway 74-A from I-40 in Asheville.