Just a short drive from the tranquil village of Blowing Rock, North Carolina just beyond Moses Cone Manor and the Boone Fork Trail parking lot at Milepost 297, is where you’ll find the beautiful Julian Price Lake. The lake was named after its former owner whose heirs donated the land to the parkway as a memorial after his passing in 1946. The 4,200 acres of land was purchased by the insurance giant as a recreational retreat for his employees and now turned into a popular hiking destination, with variety of trails, canoeing, kayaking camping, and picnicking opportunities.
Two parking lots are located by the lake. We usually park at the overlook which is the first lot coming from Blowing Rock and start the loop trail from there but you can go either way.
After parking your car turn left walking by the lake pass the large map giving you information on all seven trails that are available and follow the lake trail from there. Right across from the lot is another small trail that leads to the dam that holds the lake water and you might be delighted to see small waterfalls passing through the barrier. Please be cautious while crossing the road.
The 2.5 mile loop trail follows the lake (you’ll be either near or right by it for most of the hike) snaking under mountain laurel arches and occasionally opening to wild flowers surrounded paths. The views are spectacular and even while in the woods the light that picks through the shrubs is magical.
The terrain is pretty flat for the most part but it can get muddy and slippery at times especially after rainfall and in the winter months since it is mostly shaded. Our kids love counting the wooden panels of the many bridges you’ll be walking over, throw rocks in the lake or climb the big boulders along the path.
There are a few benches along the way where visitors can stop for a rest while enjoying the surrounding views and the sounds of nothing else but the birds singing. Occasionally we’ve seen deer walk by and if you are still for a second they’ll take their time and give you the perfect opportunity to snap a picture of them . This trail is perfect to take during summer months since it’s almost entirely sheltered by the shrubs and really cool during the hot months of the year.
Julian Price Lake Trail is absolutely beautiful during the fall months with the yellow, orange and red colored trees framing the lake and reflecting in the clear water along with the background of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the backdrop. It’s a photographers dream. Rarely busy you’ll have the opportunity to take your time and snap the perfect picture of the lake and the surroundings.
At the other end of the loop trail (or if you took a right from the parking lot, on your way there) you’ll be passing by an amphitheater, the kayak rental booth, picnic area, restrooms and the campground. There are 197 campground sites at the 47 acre park open seasonally and about 100 picnic area sites open year-round.
Visitors are able to rent canoes, double and single kayaks, and stand up paddle boards or bring their own. Fishing is allowed for anyone with a valid Virginia or North Carolina fishing license and dogs are allowed on a leash.
The road is open 24 hours a day, weather permitting. Road closures due to inclement weather occur most frequently during winter. Sections of the road may be closed during road maintenance projects. Check the blue ridge parkway road closure map to verify that the parkway is open before traveling. Visitor centers and other facilities have hours and seasons that vary. Most picnic areas, campgrounds, and visitor centers are closed from the beginning of November until early May.
We hope you visit this trail and enjoy it as much as we do. Make sure to bring an extra layer of clothing as weather here changes quickly and don’t forget a water bottle and a snack for the littles.