I have a passion for finding and photographing old historic covered bridges, which must be the reason why I walked about 1.5 miles on a day with severe summer thunderstorms passing through the area. I got as far as the bridge, stood at the entrance, just in time to hear a crack of thunder loud enough to rattle my spine. I came back a few days later.
I was out and about working on a road trip story about traveling through Western North Carolina on Highway 16. It had been a long day, I hadn’t yet visited my hotel in nearby Hickory, but I had an amazing, fresh pizza with me from Branciforte’s Italian Ristorante in North Wilkesboro, a cooler full of ice cold water, and I was feeling adventurous. I already had the historic Bunker Hill Covered Bridge programmed into my GPS unit, so despite the thunderstorms moving into the area I decided to visit anyway.
It didn’t take long to find the parking area for the bridge, only about ten minutes off Interstate 40. There is a gate on the site, but it is left open from dawn until dusk seven days a week for visitors. The parking area is large, but it’s a primitive, lightly graveled parking lot. There is a sign in the parking lot with a map showing visitors how to get out to the bridge, which involves a roughly 1.5-mile round trip hike on a simple dirty and grassy path. It’s a flat path, but visitors begin with a few steps across a log on a creek so it makes it impossible for those in wheelchairs, and difficult for those with walking disabilities.
Just as soon as I had grabbed my photography gear out of the trunk my brother called. We always joke about calling each other an inconvenient times, but I told him for once he actually had about 10-15 minutes for me to walk to the bridge. The sky was getting dark, even though sunset was hours away. The wind was picking up. I hurried.
I could hear the thunder rolling in the distance as soon as I rounded a corner and saw the bridge. I told my brother I needed to go so I could capture a few quick photos and get back to my car before the rain arrived. Not thirty seconds later, as I stood in the entrance to the bridge, a boom of thunder cracked through the otherwise silent air and sent chills down my spine. Yeah, I was done. I’m all for getting the photo in the can, but I also prefer to be alive when I get it. I called my brother five minutes later when I returned to my car. “You finished the photos already?” he asked.
I returned a few days later on a clear, warm summer day to capture the photos I wanted to begin with. The bridge is pretty neat in the fact that it’s one of only two original historic covered bridges left in North Carolina (the other is the Pisgah Covered Bridge in Asheboro). It was built in 1895 by Andy Ramsour along an old Native American trail through the region. It is open to the general public now, owned and maintained by the Catawba County Historical Association.
There isn’t much else to do here other than walk out, see the bridge, and walk back. It only takes about a half hour to fully enjoy the little adventure, which makes this the perfect destination off the beaten path. You could zip right past this on nearby Interstate 40 and never know it was here. Well, now you do.