Hitting the Trails: Love Valley, North Carolina

If riding through a western town is on your bucket list, Love Valley, NC is a must!

Love Valley is a western town nestled in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina. The town was created by Andy Barker in 1954 after he left his contracting business with a dream to live in a western town. He moved himself and his family into a small cabin and utilized his contracting crew to build the town.

In 2020 the estimated population of Love Valley was 154 people. On Trip Advisor, 92% of travelers recommended the experience of visiting. This article will coincide with that 92%.

In this article we’ll discuss the experience in its entirety. We’ll cover amenities, trails, the town, food and southern hospitality. Hopefully, you’ll be ready to plan a trip!

Photo by Marlee Fritz


While in Love Valley, we stayed at JCR Campground. This campground is a full service campground with electric hookups, stalls, restrooms and a bathhouse. The stalls were spacious, the barn and bathhouse were clean and water drainage around the campsites was adequate — we were there through the a storm.

The manager of the campground lives on the premises and is there for any visitor needs. She inquired about whether the water was hot enough for us in the bathhouse and made sure the stalls and electric were up to our standards.

It was affordable to stay at JCR Campground. The charge was $30/night for water/electric hookups for the trailer and $20/night per stall.

Riding from the campground to the town of Love Valley on horseback took approximately 15 minutes at a walk. It’s an easy ride on dirt roads and a side trail to the street. We found it was a nice warm up before riding the trails on the other side of town.

You can read more about JCR Campground on their Facebook page.


@mgruc01 JCR Campground amenities in Love Valley, NC. #lovevalley #campground #horsebackriding #trailriding #horsesoftiktok #travel #northcarolina ♬ Life On the Farm – Diamond Steel


The trails at Love Valley have so much variety to them. There are trails with creeks when you head down the mountains and trails with astonishing views when you head up the mountains. Some of the trails have rocky, rugged terrain, while others are velvety red sand. You’ll get to experience steep hills, tall grasses, narrow lanes and large paths.

We were there during a large thunderstorm and decided to ride later in the day after it had passed. The trails were well drained and didn’t have any significant mud holes.


@mgruc01 Love Valley, NC trails! #lovevalley #horsebackriding #trailriding #horsesoftiktok #travel #northcarolina #aqha #aqhaproud #horses #horse #ottb #thoroughbred ♬ Going to the Country – Caamp

Many of the trails are accessible by riding through the town of Love Valley. At the end of town is the Caroline Thread trail head.

Off of this main trail are multiple other trail heads that are marked with different colors. Some are smaller loops while others are longer rides. While there, we were able to go off onto each of these trails and ride. There were side trails off of each of them, so there was a plethora of trails we didn’t get to ride.

Photo by Marlee Fritz

We also spoke with locals who gave us directions to the Power Tower trails. These trails were absolutely stunning. They had great views and had some wide open, smooth places to do some cantering. We didn’t have nearly enough time to explore even half of these trails.

The locals also proceeded to give us directions to two different waterfall trails that we didn’t get the chance to explore. Next trip to Love Valley, we’ll navigate those. The people we met were so nice they even offered to tack their horses up and show us more trails. They stated that Love Valley is known for having over 2,000 miles of trails.

Photo courtesy of Marcella Gruchalak


Of course, the biggest attraction that brings trail riding enthusiasts into Love Valley is its quaint western town. The town of Love Valley prohibits automobiles, quads, side-by-sides and dirt bikes. It is a horse-only town with hitching posts in front of each western building.

@mgruc01 Riding through the western town of Love Valley, NC #lovevalley #horsebackriding #trailriding #horsesoftiktok #travel #northcarolina #aqha #aqhaproud #horses #horse #ottb #thoroughbred #western #westerntown ♬ Country Town – Michael Aarons

Shelby’s Place is the local watering hole. They serve a great selection of beer — and Jell-O shots! The bar has dart boards and pool tables. Every Friday night they have karaoke and on Saturday nights they have a live band.

Owner of Shelby’s Place, Mark, and a lovely bartender. Photo by Mark

On nights where it’s warm and dry the band sets up outside to make it a street dance. They had hot dogs, hamburgers and walking tacos offered for sale to raise money for their annual Christmas extravaganza, where they provide toys to the children in the town.

People ride into town on their horses and hitch them to the posts for the evening. It’s a neat experience.

You can read more about Shelby’s Place here.

Photo by Marlee Fritz

There’s also a charming bed and breakfast called Miss Kitty’s Bed and Breakfast. The owner and staff are absolutely outstanding to chat with. Available rooms here are spacious and the breakfast is SO GOOD! On our last day there, they invited us to have breakfast. We tacked up the horses, rode down to town, hitched them up under the trees and ate a big breakfast before making our long journey home.

They also have neat western items for sale such as belts, hats, shirts and jewelry. Make it a point to stop in and take a peak at those items!

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak


Food directly in town is a bit scarce, but we didn’t go hungry. Pack your lunches for on the trail, but make it a point to venture to the town of Statesville for breakfast and/or dinner.

Statesville is a cunning town with cute little shops and restaurants and it’s approximately 20 minutes to drive from Love Valley. While it was storming one of the mornings we stopped at Bristol Café for breakfast. They had GREAT breakfast, amazing service, and mimosas! Bristol Café seemed to be a local hot spot. We had the opportunity to talk with locals and enjoy a fun café atmosphere.

Many of the locals also told us about a diner that serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner at the local Valero gas station five minutes from the town of Love Valley. This is where they recommend campers go for a bite to eat. We did not have the opportunity to try it but many raved about it.

Breakfast from Bristol Café. Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

Southern Hospitality

I will begin by saying this, I have NEVER in my entire life met nicer people than the locals at Love Valley. They welcome you and provide you with the resources you need to have a great stay. You can approach any person there and they will help you to the best of their ability with complete kindness.

Hangin’ with the locals. Photo by Mark

One evening, we had just returned from riding and were beginning to make dinner. A side-by-side with locals pulled up and they invited us to a birthday party with karaoke and quite the spread of grilled foods. We decided to go and ended up making fabulous friends. We sang karaoke and danced until it was time to go to town for the street dance.

The friends we made at the birthday party introduced us to many other locals when we made it to town. One person we met at the street dance was Dale, a farrier who drives a carriage with his two mules, Henry and Harry. Dale gave us a ride around Love Valley, sharing stories about the town.

@mgruc01 A carriage ride in Love Valley, NC #lovevalley #horsebackriding #trailriding #horsesoftiktok #travel #northcarolina #western #westerntown #mule #carriagedriving ♬ Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker

While the band played, I was able to find two step and country swing dance partners — which made me exceptionally happy because I love to dance. My friend met her match as her and another local made it on stage to dance with the band. We also met a great group of individuals that invited us back to their residence after the band for a fire. I couldn’t believe how extremely welcoming everyone was.

Photo by Marlee Fritz

Overall, if you like great trails and western towns with history, this is a great experience. There are so many little things such as tying to hitching posts at the local saloon and experiencing beautiful trails that made this adventure an unforgettable one. Enjoy the journey and don’t forget your western hat!

Hit the trails, Horse Nation and go riding!