In Western North Carolina, you never have to worry about the scorching summer heat radiating off the pavement. Sure, it can hit the big 9-0 in the height of the season. But when the city feels too stuffy, it’s easy to head to the cool canopy of the wilderness.
Some people prefer to beat the heat by heading downhill to local rivers, parks, and streams. Others head uphill, along the Parkway and other scenic routes, to hiking trails leading to mountain peaks. If you’re new to the area—or just looking for something new to you—there are no shortage of great nooks and crannies to kick back and enjoy a tasty snack and an awe-inspiring view.
As experts in the region, our Beverly-Hanks associates each have their own favorite summer spots. We asked them: Where are the best picnic spots in Western North Carolina?
My family and I love to picnic at Max Patch mountain. Max Patch has a huge grassy summit with amazing 360-degree views. There is no better place to take in the splendor of WNC!
If you haven’t been there already, you should check out North Mills River Recreation Area, located only 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. It’s a fantastic little spot to do it all—picnic, swim, tube, hike, or bike. It is a great day trip for all ages!
Head down Hemphill Road in Jonathan Creek, up past The Swag, and the science center at Purchase Knob makes a great hiker and picnic spot just minutes from Waynesville. My family loves to head that way on a Sunday afternoon with a picnic. We grab a blanket for a relaxing nap after an invigorating hike with 180-degree views. Captivating.
I love Lake Louise in Weaverville. It is a picturesque place that is always bristling with folks enjoying this small-town lake. With a walking trail, picnic tables, a playground, picnic shelter, brand new workout equipment, and lots of ducks and geese, it is perfect for all ages. On any given day, you will see people fishing for small fish, people walking and running the trail, and kids having fun on the swings and jungle gyms. The Town of Weaverville puts a lot of money and manpower into keeping this lake pretty, safe, and clean for all. I love walking it in late afternoon and catching glimpses of turtles and the occasional blue heron. For certain patriotic holidays, there is usually something going on, from music to bagpipes to fireworks. Everyone is friendly—-it is truly a joy to visit and “break bread” with nature! Best place to picnic!
A magical place for a picnic is the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Enjoy the wildlife and many historic buildings on your visit. There are also plenty of places to hike and play in the creeks while you’re there.
Nothing is so restful as picnicking with the family along one of WNC’s many rivers. My family’s favorites as the kids grew up were the Mills River Campground and Davidson River Campground in Pisgah Forest. Mills River is the absolute best for little ones, as well as the older family members. It is level ground, and so easy for little legs to walk right out into the shallow water. There are always lots of other families and kids to play with, and plenty of smooth, and sometimes shiny rocks to pick up and collect. Davidson River was for many years our #1 place to picnic and camp. The deep swimming hole, complete with a swing out over the water, was a huge fun factor for the older kids, and so many hours were spent tubing down the river while waiting for the watermelon to cool in the REALLY COLD mountain water.
Our family has kept our Biltmore Estate passes for over 25 years. Our most favorite place to picnic is at the duck ponds on the estate. We always take bread to feed the ducks. This is the only time you can see the back of the Biltmore House. It is such a beautiful piece of architecture, and the view while you are picnicking is just amazing.
While there are numerous spots to picnic in Western North Carolina, two of my favorite are located in Haywood County. Picnic areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway range from full-fledged parks with tables, grills, and restroom facilities to scenic pullouts where you can grab a bite to eat in your car, on the curb, or a blanket on the ground. Tailgate and watch elk graze nearby in the meadows just after sunrise or just before sunset in beautiful Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our favorite picnic spot is the front porch of the Hiram Caldwell House, built in 1909, located near the end of the road past Palmer Chapel.
Fletcher Community Park is a great place to picnic. It’s a dog park with a trout stream to fish or play in. It’s fun for the WHOLE family!!!
Photo submitted by Amanda Hill.