Covered bridges in North Carolina are one of those iconic images of America’s past. It’s that sense of nostalgia and romance that makes them so enjoyable to visit.
In fact, they’re so beloved that there’s a National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges devoted to protecting these historic sites for future generations!
Wood was the most common bridge-building material from colonial times into the 20th century. Most of the remaining covered bridges in the USA are in the New England, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes regions.
All covered bridges were built with roofs in order to protect the wood and trusses from inclement weather, so the bridge would last much longer.
Obviously it worked, because today there are hundreds of covered bridges in the United States to visit. And some of the most beautiful bridges in North Carolina are covered bridges dating back a century or more.
This North Carolina covered bridge adventure will take you from Highlands NC, east to Sandford, up to Greensboro, and looping back toward Asheville on the I-40. Click here for our covered bridge driving map.
For those starting from Asheville and returning to Asheville, it’s 12 hours of driving. But you’ll also be traversing three national forests, a national wildlife refuge, a state forest, and more attractions along the way.
The scenery is fantastic, and hits some of my favorite places to visit in North Carolina. If you want to make a multi-day trip of it, there are major NC cities to explore, including Charlotte, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.
Read on for our in-depth guide to the coolest covered bridges in NC, including a handy map, some details on the history of each bridge, and other important info.
Covered Bridges in North Carolina Guide
- Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge (Highlands)
- High Falls Covered Bridge (Cedar Mountain)
- Gaddy Covered Bridge (Gilead)
- Pisgah Covered Bridge (Asheboro)
- Ole Gilliam Mill Park Covered Bridge (Sanford)
- Kimesville Covered Bridge (Liberty)
- Bunker Hill Covered Bridge (Claremont)
READ MORE: The 10 Most Haunted Places in North Carolina
1. Will Henry Stevens Covered Bridge
323 Franklin Road, Highlands NC
The William Henry Stevens Covered Bridge was originally known as Bagley Bridge. It was built in New Hampshire, where it once spanned the Warner River.
After it was deemed unfit for automobile or pedestrian traffic, the bridge was taken down by city officials, then bought by Arnold M. Graton in 1966 and put into storage.
Sixty percent of the old growth pine lumber had to be replaced. But the bridge was put together without metal, using 1100 tree nails, dowels, and trunnels.
The 200-year-old bridge was opened once more in 2009, and it’s worthy of some love and attention. It’s located on Franklin Road in Highlands NC, about 85 miles southwest of Asheville.
2. High Falls Covered Bridge
Staton Road, Cedar Mountain NC
High Falls Covered Bridge is easy to reach via the High Falls Access Area on Staton Road. From there, take the ½-mile High Falls Loop trail and you’ll find the bridge spanning the Little River at the top of High Falls.
However, the state of North Carolina condemned the property, which became part of Dupont State Forest. The High Falls Covered Bridge is about 50 miles east of William Henry Stevens Covered Bridge.
I highly recommend spending extra time in Dupont State Forest and checking out more of the waterfalls—particularly Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls—while you’re in the area.
Alternative Route: For a great day trip, check out these first two covered bridges from Asheville. You could also include visits to the Nantahala National Forest, Gorges State Park, Brevard, Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and/or Mt. Pisgah.
The remainder of the NC covered bridges on this list are all closer to Charlotte.
3. Gaddy Covered Bridge
Griffin Road, Mt. Gilead NC
Located in the Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge, Gaddy Covered Bridge requires a 0.65-mile hike to reach.
But once you get there, the bridge offers phenomenal views of the Pee Dee River, and the chance to spot many beautiful birds of North Carolina.
The Gaddy Covered Bridge was funded by The Friends of the Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge. It has information about the refuge’s history, benches for resting, and windows for viewing the wilderness around it.
Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It encompasses 8,500 acres, with wetlands, open water, old fields, and forests creating a diverse landscape.
In order to reach the Gaddy Covered Bridge, visitors should go to the Anson County section of the refuge and find the trailhead on Griffin Road.
This is approximately 180 miles, and a 3.5-hour drive from the High Falls Covered Bridge.
4. Pisgah Covered Bridge
6925 Pisgah Covered Bridge Rd, Asheboro NC
One of two remaining original covered bridges in North Carolina, Pisgah Covered Bridge was built in 1911 for a mere $40, though it has received numerous renovations since.
The single-lane crossing bridge spans 54 feet over the West Little Fork River, and it sits on very attractive stone and mortar supports.
This bridge was closed to cars in the 1950s, when a new steel bridge was built nearby. In 2003, the original bridge was destroyed by a flood.
Miraculously, local volunteers managed to recover about 90% of the original material used ion construction, and the bridge was rebuilt much the same as it ever was.
Nowadays, visitors can walk across the Pisgah bridge and have a picnic at the roadside park. The trail to the bridge is half a mile or so, and wonders through the forest.
5. Ole Gilliam Mill Park Covered Bridge
NC-42, Sanford NC
The bridge at Ole Gilliam Mill Park has the distinction of being the longest covered bridge in NC. It measures 140 feet, crosses over Pocket Creek, and is open to pedestrian traffic only.
This bridge doesn’t actually have a name. But it’s part of a historic park built in 1979 to replicate a mill that dated back to 1850. The original mill was washed away in the big flood of 1928.
The reproduction of the mill and other structures in the park was a labor of love by Worth Pickard, with help from friends and family. All of the parts were obtained from old mills scattered around the Southeast.
Nancy and Worth Pickard donated the mill, its accompanying buildings, and 15 acres of land to the Ole Gilliam Mill Park in 2000.
The Covered Bridge at Old Gilliam Mill Park is located 43 miles east of the Pisgah Covered Bridge, about 6 miles outside of Sanford NC.
6. Kimesville Covered Bridge
Humble Rd, Liberty NC
Of our 7 NC bridges, Kimesville Covered Bridge is the only one that is inaccessible to the public, because it’s located on private property. However, it can be seen (and photographed) right from the roadside.
This bridge doesn’t have a lot of known history behind it, either. It is said to have originally been on Layton Road (also in Liberty NC), then moved to Humble Road.
It’s one of two covered bridges in Randolph County, with the more famous Pisgah Covered Bridge being the other.
The Kimesville Covered Bridge is located 39 miles northwest of Old Gilliam Mill Park Covered Bridge, about 20 miles outside of Greensboro NC.
Alternative Route: For covered bridge spotters looking for an out-and-back day trip from Charlotte, the Kimesville Covered Bridge and Ole Gilliam Covered Bridge can be removed for a much more circular route that includes the Gaddy Covered Bridge, Pisgah Covered Bridge, and Bunker Hill Covered Bridge.
7. Bunker Hill Covered Bridge
4180 Hwy 70, Claremont NC
Along with the Pisgah Bridge, Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is one of the oldest covered bridges in North Carolina.
Built in 1895, this bridge began as an open span over Lyle’s Creek.
It was ultimately covered with a 91-foot-long roof in 1900, and the wooden shingles were replaced with tin in 1921.
The Bunker Hill Bridge was later donated to the Catawba Country Historical Association. and was restored in 1994 by master bridge builder Arnold M. Graton.
This bridge is located a couple of miles outside of Claremont NC on Highway 70.
It’s a little over 100 miles west of the Kimesville Covered Bridge, and under 90 miles east of Asheville. –by Jonathon Engels, featured image and pins via Canva