Did you just eat a huge lunch or dinner and are looking to walk it off with gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain views and a lake? Don’t miss Beaver Lake in Asheville, NC. Many people don’t realize that you can walk the 2-mile Beaver Lake Trail and Bird Sanctuary while spying wildlife in the heart of North Asheville.
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When we first moved to Asheville, NC, we kept hearing about this gorgeous lake with walking trails. We had to find it. Before our movers even pulled into the driveway, we landed at our Asheville oasis: Beaver Lake Trail and Bird Sanctuary.
Who knew that in the heart of North Asheville we’d find a private lake that the public could walk? Within the Beaver Lake Perimeter Trail, you can also enter the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, a donation-based, 8-acre sanctuary managed by a chapter of the National Audubon Society.
The Beaver Lake Trail is serene and perfect for a light and easy walk or a picnic on the grass under a shaded tree. You’ll love the crisp blue water and bird homes along the way. There is even a Free Little Library and benches to sit on. Don’t miss the church steeple hidden in the mountains.
Below, find all of the details about this more hidden and lesser-known local lake. We’ll tell you where to park, what to pack, what to expect, and why you should definitely take a stroll at Beaver Lake. Heck, you might even see us there. I always recommend Beaver Lake after dinner at Chiesa or Plant.
Also remember that this is Beaver Lake, Asheville and not in one of the other 50 States — it’s a pretty common name.
Let’s get started!
Where Is The Beaver Lake Trail? Is It Open?
Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and the lake itself are extremely easy to find. I’m not sure why, but people always ask if Beaver Lake Trail is open, too. Yes! Sometimes parts of the trail are shut down for maintenance or flooding, but you can normally still enjoy most of the lake. Please know that there are no restrooms on-site.
Four-acres of Beaver Lake are owned by The Lake View Park Commission, but anyone can respectfully walk here from dawn to dusk.
So, how do you access Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and Trail?
From Downtown Asheville, NC:
Coming from the downtown area, if you drive down Merrimon Ave. (home to lots of goodies that we’ll share below) toward North Asheville, you’ll pass all of the yuppie grocery stories on your left — Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, Whole Foods, etc.
As you slope down the hill after the big intersection, you’ll pass Early Girl Eatery and the North Asheville Library, which resembles a log cabin. Right before the big turn, on your left, you can park at the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Parking is donation-based at this lot. (You’ll also see a golf course on your right.)
You may continue driving a tad further down Merrimon Ave. and park in two more gravel lots before completely passing Beaver Lake.
Coming From South Of Asheville
Take Exit 5A from I-240 West. Turn right and follow the directions above. (I-26 gets you here, too.)
Who Will Enjoy Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and Beaver Lake Trail?
Walkers & Runners: Dog Policies At Beaver Lake, Asheville
Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is for everyone with the exception of your dogs. They will scare the birds and wildlife.
However, you can walk the Beaver Lake Perimeter Trail with your dog BUT you need a permit. The warden enforces this. Because Beaver Lake is technically privately owned but open to everyone, they do charge for pooches. You will find dog stations for bags and trash around the Beaver Lake Trail.
You can learn more about obtaining a dog permit, fishing/boating, and Beaver Lake rules here.
Of course, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is especially grand for birdwatchers. You will find signs posted throughout the sanctuary identifying birds and wildlife. I am not a real birder so take this with a grain of salt, but you’ll see hawks, osprey, herons, vultures, kites, sparrows, woodpeckers, ducks, wrens, swallows, warblers, and bluebirds. There are a lot of bird species here.
You’ll also see fish and turtles in the water. You can catch birds on the Beaver Lake Trail, too, but they are more spread out versus the sanctuary.
On the first Saturday of seasonal months, you may take a guided Audubon Society tour. Information about those bird tours can be found on the Blue Ridge Audubon Society (formerly Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society) website here.
When Is The Best Time To Walk The Sanctuary & Beaver Lake Trail?
If you are looking for birds, you want to arrive in the early AM. Late spring and early fall are good birding seasons.
Personally mid-morning or early evening are our favorite times to walk Beaver Lake Trail. In the summer, afternoons are a tad oppressive here.
How Much Time Can You Spend At Beaver Lake?
The Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary is only about a .5 mile loop on a boardwalk. The wood does get slippery when wet. The Beaver Lake Trail is a little under 2-miles and is more a dirt trail with some roots sticking up and mud. The trail is pretty gently and flat.
We usually visit for an hour or so unless we have a picnic blanket. Then, we bring lunch and a good book until, quite frankly, someone needs to pee. You can always stop at The Early Girl Eatery or Cecelia’s Food Truck for some to-go grub.
What Should You Pack For An Outing To Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary & The Perimeter Trail?
Binoculars – I cannot tell you how many times we are out on the trails throughout Asheville when someone asks us if we have binoculars to borrow. If you love birdwatching, you’ll definitely need a pair for the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and any of Asheville’s trails.
Travel Picnic & Outdoor Blanket – We usually keep a blanket in our car at all times in case we want to spread out on the grass and chill.
More Attractions Near Beaver Lake In Asheville, NC
There is so much fun to be had in North Asheville. Of course, downtown is less than 10-minutes away. If you are looking for a few things to do closer to Beaver Lake, though:
We love The Hop, and yes, they have lactose-free and vegan options. The Merrimon Ave. location is a local spot. Address: 640 Merrimon Ave. Asheville, NC.
If you love parks and gardens, don’t miss the Asheville Botanical Gardens that are 8-minutes away from the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. Located on the UNC-Asheville campus, parking and entrance are free. Discover 10-acres of protected, rare, and endangered wildflowers. You’ll walk easy nature trails over beautiful bridges into wide-open spaces. Address: 151 W T. Weaver Boulevard, Asheville, NC.
Ginger’s Revenge & Zillicoah Beer Company
Now that you are closer to Woodfin and in North Asheville, Ginger’s Revenge is located about 8-minutes driving from Beaver Lake. They brew boozy ginger beer, which is gluten-free and 95% organic. Find Ginger’s Revenge at 829 Riverside Drive.
One of our favorite breweries on the French Broad River, find Zillicoah Beer Company. You can also hit up Ginger’s Revenge before or after. Zillicoah is located at 870 Riverside Drive.
If you enjoy urban art, shops, and strolling down the French Broad River, don’t miss the River Arts District. Discover artists’ studios, endless and colorful murals, hidden shops, Wedge Brewing (two locations), pleb winery, and restaurants. You may also head over to the French Broad Park or hit up one of the river tubing spots here.
North Asheville/Montford Restaurants
If you are hungry, a few of our favorite places to eat around North Asheville and Beaver Lake include: Cecilia’s Kitchen & Food Truck (crepes), Zen Sushi or Mr. Sushi, Chiesa (upscale Italian dinner), and Plant (vegan dinner).
Have You Been To Beaver Lake? What Other Asheville Parks & Gardens Do You Love?
Do you have places in Asheville that you love that are an oasis from the busy city? Have you been to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary or walked the Beaver Lake Trail? What did you think? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments.