The 15 Best Lakes Near Asheville, North Carolina

Lake Junaluska North Carolina
© iStock.com/digidreamgrafix

Written by Taiwo Victor

Updated: August 10, 2023

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North Carolina is a state with amazing natural beauty located on the United States east coast. The Blue Ridge Mountains in the west have inspired songs about its magnificence, and in the east, you can find the coastline region with its shimmering ponds that catch the light like pearls. The state is dotted with lakes and other bodies of water.

For one, the city of Asheville has a thriving tourism industry and a population of close to 90,000. Asheville, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is known for its iconic architecture, rich history, and vibrant art scene. But in addition to the city’s seemingly endless amenities and activities, Asheville is home to many lakes that are easily accessible by car.

The Asheville lakes are breathtaking, especially with the lovely mountains around them, and they offer a plethora of leisure opportunities. So, if you ever find yourself in western North Carolina looking to relax in cool waters, what are the best lakes you can easily access? This article will list the 15 best lakes near Asheville, North Carolina, and other fascinating facts.

An overview of the 15 Best Lakes Near Asheville.

The 15 Best Lakes Near Asheville, North Carolina

1. Lake Lure

Lake Lure North Carolina

Lake Lure is bordered by the Hickory Nut Gorge’s cliffs.

©iStock.com/dosecreative

Lure Lake, one of the most well-known artificial lakes in western North Carolina close to Asheville, is renowned for serving as the backdrop for numerous movies, notably Dirty Dancing. A Dirty Dancing Festival is held in the fall, offering a day of fun activities and many memories. On a clear day, you can see Lake Lure from Chimney Rock and the other way around. The lake, bordered by the Hickory Nut Gorge’s cliffs, has a sandy beach, a lakeside greenway, and boat trips.

2. Lake Powhatan

North Carolina Lake Powhatan

Lake Powhatan is located in the Pisgah National Forest.

©iStock.com/dosecreative

If you don’t want to travel far, Lake Powhatan is located in the Pisgah National Forest, just outside the well-known Blue Ridge Parkway, and is only a 20-minute drive from the town’s core. The residents travel there to escape the city and enjoy nature. The scenery is breathtaking, with numerous shaded pine trees, a sandy area for lounging in the sun, and picnic tables. Imagine going camping and having access to hot showers, flushing toilets, lunches, and a small dam waterfall. Additionally, this lake in Asheville has a small “beach” for swimming.

3. Lake Louise Park

Lake Louise North Carolina in Fall

Lake Louise is a 15.5 acre man-made lake that’s well worth a visit if you are in the Asheville area.

©Gingo Scott/Shutterstock.com

One town in North Carolina worth visiting is Weaverville, which is only 10 minutes from Asheville. A dog park bar, wonderful restaurants, breweries, and Lake Louise can all be found in the rustic town. Lake Louise Park, which spans over 15.5 acres and features a man-made lake with a surface area of more than five acres, is owned and maintained by the Town of Weaverville. The park also has grills, a walking track, picnic shelters, a playground, outdoor fitness equipment, and fishing. The most often caught fish in Lake Louise are channel catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

4. Lake Tomahawk

Lake Tomahawk North Carolina.

Lake Tomahawk hosts a 16.3-acre park.

©Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Like Weaverville, Black Mountain is a must-see mountain town in western North Carolina with excellent local eateries, breweries, and a charming downtown. One of the nicest lakes near Asheville for a quick family day trip is Lake Tomahawk, which can be found in Black Mountain, approximately 25 minutes away. Lake Tomahawk also hosts a magnificent 16.3-acre park with tennis courts, a playground, amenities, and a walking track with little footbridges. While walking from the lake to Downtown Black Mountain, you’ll see some lovely homes and inn accommodations. However, it’s a bit of a hike.

5. Lake James

Lake James North Carolina

Lake James is well-known for fishing.

©iStock.com/Eifel Kreutz

Lake James, a 6,812-acre lake accessible from Lake James State Park close to the hamlet of Nebo, is just over an hour from Asheville. It has been used as the backdrop for several big-budget movies, including “The Hunt for Red October.” With three campgrounds along its shores, including a distant alternative that is only accessible by boat, it is well-known for fishing, jet-skiing, and camping. There are 25 miles of trails where you can bike, in addition to boating, swimming, and fishing in the lovely, clean waterways. The Appalachian Mountains are also beautifully visible from the hikes.

6. Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake

One of the deepest lakes in North Carolina is Fontana Lake.

©iStock.com/Joshua Moore

Fontana Lake is not only among North Carolina’s largest lakes but also its deepest. The lake has a surface size of 10,230 acres and is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest. It also features the tallest dam in the eastern United States. With scores of inlets, coves, and islands formed by ancient mountain tops poking through the placid surface waters, there is much to see and do with a boat on this lake.

Since animals frequently swim across the lake or along the shores of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s good to bring your camera and binoculars. Otters, deer, foxes, bobcats, black bears, wild boars, bald and golden eagles, ospreys, and turkeys are just a few of the many animals that call Fontana Lake home.

7. Lake Glenville

Lake Glenville NC

Lake Glenville is located at the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi.

©iStock.com/stan99

Lake Glenville, one of the lakes on this list that are the furthest away from Asheville, is a pristine reservoir close to Cashiers, located at the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. You can enjoy swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, water skiing, and other activities at a tiny public beach across the High Falls parking area.

8. Lake Toxaway

Lake Toxaway North Carolina

Lake Toxaway is the biggest private lake in North Carolina.

©Ed Florentino/Shutterstock.com

The biggest private lake in North Carolina, Lake Toxaway, includes 14 miles of picturesque shoreline and numerous million-dollar residences. One of the cleanest waters in the area, it is stream-fed by water that comes from high trees. Lodging alternatives provide guests access to the area, although, in the past, it was solely accessible to individuals who owned homes along its banks. Kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and evening cruises are popular pursuits.

9. Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah is one of the most beautiful lakes in the U.S.

©digidreamgrafix/Shutterstock.com

The Nantahala National Forest surrounds Lake Santeetlah, which is less than a two-hour trip and 100 miles west of Asheville, with 80% of it located along the lake’s 76-mile shoreline. Stunning Lake Santeetlah is frequently cited as one of the most beautiful lakes in the nation and is one of the most pristine lakes you can find in the mountains of North Carolina. You can also find many fishing opportunities and water sports near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including a beach and a campground beside a lake.

10. Lake Jocassee

Lake Jocassee

Situated within Devils Fork State Park, Lake Jocassee has an average depth of 154 feet.

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Lake Jocassee has a surface area of 7,500 acres with an average depth of 154 feet. It is one of the “50 of the World’s Last Great Places – Destinations of a Lifetime” featured in the National Geographic special edition. It is situated within Devils Fork State Park and is supplied by the clear waters from the Appalachian Mountains, 80 miles from Asheville, on the South Carolina border. This body of water, which is 350 feet deep at its deepest point and is fueled by melting snow tops in the Appalachians, is a top diving location. Visitors to Lake Jocassee can take boat trips, go hiking at Devils Fork State Park, or see some of the lake’s magnificent waterfalls.

11. Beaver Lake

Beached Boats at Beaver Lake in Asheville North Carolina

Beaver Lake, one of the best lakes near Asheville, is perfect for bird viewing, sunsets, picnics, and solitary strolls.

©Gingo Scott/Shutterstock.com

Beaver Lake, a 65-acre artificial reservoir in the foothills just minutes from Asheville’s downtown, is managed by the neighborhood but is open to the public for a fee. Beaver Lake, one of the best lakes close to Asheville, is a must-visit for bird viewing, sunsets, picnics, and solitary strolls. Discover chairs, a dirt path for walking, a secret picnic table, a Free Little Library, and trees for hammocks and blankets all around the lake.

12. Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun

Lake Rabun features waterside dining, boating, fly fishing, tubing, and other fun activities.

©PaulDaniel5010/Shutterstock.com

Lake Rabun is a stunning location with 835 acres and 25 miles of shoreline in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northeastern Georgia, just under two hours’ drive from Asheville. Along the banks, there are accommodation choices, restaurants offering riverside dining, and marinas with boat rentals. It is particularly well-liked for water-skiing, fly-fishing, tubing, and several kinds of boating. Additionally, ziplining, horseback riding, and hiking are other options.

13. Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska North Carolina

Lake Junaluska is located outside Waynesville and close to Maggie Valley.

©iStock.com/digidreamgrafix

Just outside Waynesville and close to Maggie Valley, North Carolina, lies a lovely lake and hamlet called Lake Junaluska. Even though the lake is only 200 acres, it is heavy on beauty and amenities, with a 2.6-mile trail encircling it and hotels and cabins on the water. One of the most well-known artificial lakes in the western North Carolina mountains, Lake Junaluska draws visitors looking for a romantic escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are also crappie, bream, bass, perch, bluegill, and trout fishing chances.

14. Lake Julian

Lake Julian Park in Arden, North Carolina

Lake Julian in Arden, North Carolina is stocked with bream, bass, and catfish for fishing.

©Dustin Lee Thibideau/Shutterstock.com

Lake Julian is a family-friendly getaway in Arden, North Carolina, about 10 miles northwest of Asheville. Bream, bass, and catfish are stocked in Lake Julian by Recreation Services/Buncombe County for fishing. A playground, horseshoe pits, and a sand volleyball court are also available in Lake Julian Park.

15. Lake Rhodhiss

Lake Rhodhiss North Carolina

On Lake Rhodhiss, swimming, boating, and fishing are popular activities.

©Orion Chavez/Shutterstock.com

In western North Carolina, at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a picturesque lake called Lake Rhodhiss. The lake covers over 3,000 acres and has a shoreline that stretches 90 miles east of Asheville. On Lake Rhodhiss, swimming, boating, and fishing are popular activities, but activity levels are frequently low, resulting in a peaceful and serene waterscape.

Summary of the 15 Best Lakes Near Asheville, North Carolina

Here are the 15 Best Lakes Near Asheville, North Carolina:

RankBest Lakes
1Lake Lure
2Lake Powhatan
3Lake Louise Park
4Lake Tomahawk
5Lake James
6Fontana Lake
7Lake Glenville
8Lake Toxaway
9Lake Santeetlah
10Lake Jocassee
11Beaver Lake
12Lake Rabun
13Lake Junaluska
14Lake Julian
15Lake Rhodhiss


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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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