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The Blue Ridge Parkway is suffused with natural wonder and beauty. Offering more than its many overlooks and pastures, the Parkway is also home to Trout Lake, one of my favorite hiking spots, just 15 minutes from the center of Boone.
Surrounded by a mile long trail, the lake offers an opportunity to engage with nature at your own pace. On my hikes, I’ve observed a variety of North Carolina wildlife in their native habitat, ranging from chipmunks and squirrels to geese and heron. I’ve even seen several deer romping around the hills. The trail is pet friendly, making this spot one of my favorite places to bond with my dog, allowing us both to get out in nature and enjoy the mountain air.
I walk the trail as often as I can, typically at least twice a week, with friends or alone. The trail is wide and level, making it an ideal place for people of all ages and abilities to jog, stroll, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, explore by horseback. There have been many days when I have seen the Appalachian State University track team running in packs along the shore of the lake. Perhaps one of my favorite places on the trail is patch of grass at the bank of the lake where I have delighted in picnics with my friends as we release the tensions of day to day life. It’s an ideal place to lay down a blanket and celebrate the day by doing anything from playing fetch with your pup to flying a kite, taking a nap, reading a novel, or practicing yoga.
Trout Lake is a place where the seasons are experienced in their entirety. Rhododendrons burst into bloom during the Spring, painting the trail with color and life, while Summer brings lush shades of green and a variety of different birdsong. My favorite season, Autumn, ignites the trees in shades of red and orange, exhibiting the full spectrum of Fall. Even in the depths of Winter, the lake is a sight to behold. Blankets of snow cover the ground while icicles drip from branches. Regardless of what time of year it is, you’ll feel the embrace of each season as you stroll along the lakeside.
Discovering the habitat of Trout Lake is easy, thanks to a paved parking lot off of Shulls Mills Road on the Blue Ridge Parkway Highway. However, I tend to drive straight from Boone, taking Winkler’s Creek road then continuing straight to Flannery Fork road, which has several pull-off spots directly on the trail.
By staying with us at the Art of Living Retreat Center and Spa, you can explore many of the hidden wonders of the Blue Ridge Parkway, like Trout Lake, that lay tucked away among the ancient mountains, and perhaps discover your own inner peace along the way.