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Your guide to Lake Junaluska
Welcome to Lake Junaluska
Ensconced in an enchanting valley just 27 miles west of Asheville, this serene lake and its namesake town were constructed as a Methodist resort in the early 1900s. More recently, the destination has welcomed anyone looking to unwind in a tranquil lakefront setting with a majestic mountain backdrop. To preserve the relaxed vibe, gas-powered motors are prohibited in the lake, but non-motorized watercraft including rowboats, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes are popular.
In a nod to the region’s history, the artificial 200-acre lake was named for a Cherokee leader, and there are also a couple of lakefront museums and heritage centers. Surrounding the water are 16 verdant gardens as well as an 18-hole golf course and mini-golf attraction, and the lake’s perimeter is traced by a walking trail. America’s most popular park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway scenic drive are right at the town’s doorstep.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake Junaluska
The four seasons are distinct in Lake Junaluska. Winter is short but very cold, and driving in the mountains can be a challenge when it’s snowing unless your vehicle is correctly outfitted. In springtime the chestnut trees and dogwoods bloom and milder temperatures set in, but occasionally it’s still chilly (definitely layer up, particularly if you’re going hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park). Long, warm summers are ideal for all activities associated with the lake, including lounging on patches of grass beside the water. Understandably, this is the town’s busiest time of year. Fall is gorgeous too, though, with its changing leaves and festivals and farmers markets happening in neighboring communities. Note that clouds and rain can appear year-round, and that certain businesses and attractions may close in colder months.
Top things to do in Lake Junaluska
Walking the Lake
Accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and scooters, a 2.3-mile loop trail circles Lake Junaluska, crossing the Turbeville footbridge and meandering past churches, gardens, and other architecture and natural sites. It’s flat for the most part, with one section that traverses a hilly woodland, and can be extended to 3.8 miles if you bypass the bridge crossing.
More than a dozen lush and pleasant gardens flank Lake Junaluska. Corneille Bryan Native Garden contains more than 500 native plants, which tend to attract local birdlife. The Biblical Garden is a collection of plants noted in the Bible (think herbs, figs, vines, and pomegranates). A rose walk lines the walking path along a section of Lakeshore Drive across from the World Methodist Building.
Paddleboard, kayak, canoe, and rowboat rentals line the lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you don’t want to wield the oars yourself, look for the boat tours that leave from the dock behind the Harrell Center on summer weekends or the occasional lake cruise. Anglers with valid fishing licenses can get their hooks into bass and catfish.