▶ BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
A MAN-MADE MARVEL
Situated in the middle of textile entrepreneur Moses Cone’s 3,516 acre estate, this man-made lake affords excellent fishing and hiking opportunities. From the Parkway, exit at milepost 294.6 to Highway 221 and then turn left toward Blowing Rock. It’s a mile downhill to two Bass Lake trailheads and parking areas on the left with restrooms. If you choose to bypass the Parkway, parking for the lake can still be accessed a half mile south of the US 221/Business 321 junction in downtown Blowing Rock. Or hike in the long way by parking at Flat Top Manor (milepost 294) and then meander along miles of carriage road just past the estate’s old apple barn and orchards until Bass Lake comes into view.
Grab a pole and head to the lake for a chance to catch some trout. A North Carolina or Virginia fishing license is required for all fisherman.
One of the easiest and most scenic hikes is along the .8 mile loop around the lake itself. Start at the lakeshore parking area near the restrooms (see directions above), where a handicap ramp feeds into the trail. This hard-packed, gravel path is perfect for runners, walkers, and even those in wheelchairs and baby carriages (no bicycles or horses permitted). During the winter months, cross country skiers can also traverse these trails. Enjoy brilliant colored trees during the fall as you meander along the grassy lakeshore. The trail passes over a couple bridges before ending back at the parking lot.
For a slightly longer hike, bear right from the loop trail entrance at the parking lot, and after .2 miles, fork to the right toward The Maze Trail. Wind your way through until you reach the apple barn in 2.6 miles. Don’t forget to take a photo of the Moses Cone Manor House in the distance before continuing. Turn left, and in .2 miles, turn left again onto Deer Park Carriage Road, which descends back to the remaining .6 miles of lakeshore trail.