The Best Lakes Near Asheville, NC
The Great Outdoors,  Surrounding Areas

The 10 Best Lakes Near Asheville Perfect for a Day Trip!

Nestled within the unforgettable landscapes of Western North Carolina, Asheville stands as a mecca in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains’ stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes, this vibrant city offers an abundance of outdoor activities for local nature enthusiasts and tourists alike. 

Among its many treasures, the region boasts an array of pristine lakes where visitors can go and seek tranquility and recreation. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 lakes near Asheville, what you can do there, and why you won’t want to miss your opportunity to check them out!

The many lakes near Asheville offer a diverse array of recreational opportunities and beauty for the whole family to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure on the water or simply looking to soak up the sun, these stunning Asheville lakes provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor exploration and relaxation. 

So, pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and embark on a memorable journey to discover the splendor of Western North Carolina’s best lakes!

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The Top 10 Lakes Near Asheville, NC

1. Lake Lure

Best Lakes near Asheville, NC: Lake Lure

Lake Lure‘s crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain backdrop make it one of the most popular Asheville lakes for outdoor enthusiasts and families. Whether you’re cruising on a pontoon boat, casting a line for bass and trout, or simply relaxing on the sandy shores, Lake Lure offers endless opportunities for enjoyment. 

Here, you can partake in a variety of boating, fishing, swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking activities. Additionally, Lake Lure offers a unique water park experience for visitors, including waterslides and games to enjoy directly on the sandy shores of the lake. 

Just 40 minutes from downtown Asheville, Lake Lure is an excellent choice for a day’s adventure that will make everyone happy.


2. Lake James

Lakes near Asheville Perfect for a Day: Lake James


With over 6,800 acres of sparkling water surrounded by the scenic mountains of Western Carolina, Lake James State Park is a haven for outdoor recreation. 

Hike along pristine trails, paddle through tranquil coves, or spend the night under the stars at one of the park’s family-friendly campgrounds. A little over an hour south of Asheville, Lake James offers something for everyone.


3. Fontana Lake

Top Lakes near Asheville, NC: Fontana Lake


Stretching across the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, Fontana Lake is a secluded paradise tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains. Its beautiful blue waters and undeveloped shoreline make it a natural haven for wildlife, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. 

There’s plenty to do here – from boating to discovering hidden coves, fishing, camping, picnicking, or even hiking along scenic routes of the Appalachian Trail. Just an hour and a half from Asheville, Fontana Lakes is one of the best Asheville lakes for a great day or weekend getaway.


4. Lake Powhatan

The Best Lakes near Asheville, NC: Lake Powhatan


Situated within the lush confines of Pisgah National Forest, Lake Powhatan offers a serene retreat just minutes from downtown, making it one of the only lakes in Asheville. For a small day fee, you can spend your time lounging on the sandy shores or casting a line for bluegill and bass. 

Alternatively, you can hike many of the trails that connect to the lake for no charge. With its tranquil setting and abundance of recreational opportunities, such as swimming, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and mountain biking, Lake Powhatan is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


5. Beaver Lake

When it comes to lakes in Asheville, Beaver Lake is a popular recreational area located in the charming neighborhood of North Asheville. Its calm waters and scenic surroundings make it an ideal spot for paddling, fishing, or soaking up the natural beauty of the outdoors. Take a stroll along the scenic walking path that encircles the lake, or pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing afternoon by the water’s edge.

Many people choose to park at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, a small 8-acre wetland that connects to the rest of the lake. You won’t want to miss this amazing small lake in Asheville!    


6. Lake Glenville

Often referred to by locals as the “Crown Jewel of the Smokies,” Lake Glenville offers breathtaking views and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. 

Whether you’re cruising along the waters hoping to glimpse one of the three waterfalls that can only be viewed from the lake, reeling in a trophy-sized trout, or hiking within the 1,470 acres of the park, Lake Glenville is one of the coolest lakes near Asheville for an unforgettable experience for nature lovers of all kinds. 


7. Lake Julian

Lakes near Asheville Perfect for a Day: Lake Julian


Conveniently located just south of Asheville, Lake Julian offers a relaxing retreat for all. Cast a line from the fishing pier, paddle around the lake, or enjoy a leisurely picnic surrounded by picturesque beauty. 

With dozens of wild ducks wandering throughout the park, a playground for children of all abilities and ages to enjoy, and disc golf paths to check out, this is one of the most family-friendly lakes near Asheville to spend a fun-filled day!


8. Lake Junaluska

Top Lakes near Asheville, NC:Lake Junaluska


Located in Haywood County just 30 minutes west of Asheville, Lake Junaluska is a soothing oasis offering respite from the stresses of everyday life. Whether you’re lounging on the sandy beach, swimming in the public pool, exploring scenic walking trails, paddling on the water, or attending a spiritual retreat, Lake Junaluska provides an escape for body, mind, and soul. 


9. Lake Toxaway

Surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Toxaway offers a memorable escape for outdoor adventurers and families. Whether you’re exploring its crystal-clear waters by boat, teeing off at one of its scenic golf courses, or hiking through its lush green forests, Lake Toxaway promises a magical experience amidst the beauty of nature. 

Just 40 minutes southwest of Asheville, you won’t want to miss out on this awesome spot. 


10. Lake Santeetlah

Best Lakes near Asheville, NC: Lake Santeetlah


Positioned in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest, about two hours from Asheville, Lake Santeetlah is a hidden gem renowned for its crystal-clear waters and unspoiled wilderness. 

There’s plenty to do here – from water sports to fishing, hiking, camping, and even beach lounging. Its remote location and stunning natural beauty make it an unforgettable sight amidst the Great Smoky Mountains.

There you have it! 10 fun lakes near Asheville perfect for a day trip. Did we miss any lakes near Asheville, NC? Let us know in the comments below!


hough born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, Samantha has come to call Asheville home. First introduced to Asheville as a child (back when Bele Chere was a thing), Samantha has been coming here on and off since 2004, when her grandparents first retired in Black Mountain, NC. As an adult, Samantha graduated from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. An official Asheville local since 2013, Samantha has lived as far east as Black Mountain, as far north as Woodfin, as far west as Candler, and now resides just south of Asheville in Hendersonville, NC. Samantha loves Asheville for its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and people that match its mountains. Owner of Organic Copy and Content, Samantha writes and does marketing for a variety of brands, ranging from nonprofits and local businesses to larger industry-disrupting corporations. Passionate about mental wellness, Samantha is also self-publishing her own memoir in 2024 on the topic of overcoming childhood trauma and navigating mental health challenges and grief as an adult parent. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys hiking with her husband, dog, and son. She also regularly horseback rides, and will talk your ear off about art, music, alternative wellness, and books. A foodie at heart, Samantha may be spotted in many of Asheville's delicious eateries (when not eating a fantastic home-cooked meal from her husband and former Starstuff bandmate).

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