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Sitting snug amongst rhododendron trees, white pines and the 3,500-acre Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Bass Lake is the picture of both tranquility and nobility. Ducks find their way into the small body of water for a quiet swim, disturbed only by the laughter of children playing in the grass along the shoreline. The lake, set in a small valley, is surrounded on all sides by mountains and forests filled with winding trails. Bass Lake is a beautiful stop along the 500-mile long Blue Ridge Parkway. The 22-acre lake was constructed in 1908 by impounding the Middle Fork Creek in Watauga County, North Carolina.
A 1.7-mile gravel path curls around Bass Lake's shoreline, where park benches are scattered among the overhanging trees and lush grass. This easy, flat gravel path is taken by joggers looking for a quick run, families with young children or elderly couples wishing for a quiet stroll around the lake. A glance to the north reveals the stately Flat Top Manor, also known as the Moses H. Cone Mansion, which is open to visitors during the spring, summer and fall months.
The mansion overlooking Bass Lake was built in 1901 by the park's founder, Moses H. Cone. Cone acquired the land for his wife, Bertha Cone, so that she could explore the acres of pine and hardwood forests, the valleys, rivers and lakes. In 1950, the estate was donated to the National Park Service and now welcomes about 225,000 visitors each year.
Anglers looking for a quiet place to rest their feet and fishing lines can do so from Bass Lake's shores, as bank fishing is the only fishing allowed at this lake. Lean back against a tree and patiently wait for a few nibbles on the line from the bass, trout and panfish that swim in the lake's depths. Come during the week for a quieter atmosphere; weekends are busier at the lake as friends and families use the trail as a way to grab some fresh air.
Those visiting Bass Lake throughout the year easily find ways to stay busy in North Carolina's Mountains tourism region. Vacation rentals and resorts are available and are only a few minutes walk away from the lake, making it simple to pack a lunch and start exploring the park. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails -- once used as carriage trails -- that wind their way throughout the park. Hikers and horseback riders are allowed to take advantage of easy, mile-long loops or rugged, strenuous terrain that takes you up the area's mountainsides.
If you're armed with binoculars or a camera, move slowly throughout the trails surrounding Bass Lake and take in both the picturesque scenery along with any shy wildlife you may come across. Magnolia trees pop out with pale, yellow blooms while other, lesser-known plant species, like painted trillium, lousewort or wild geranium, find themselves in the nooks and crannies of the trails. Birders with keen eyes and ears can witness a variety of avian species singing from the treetops, like black-throated warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks and Acadian flycatchers.
Fall foliage is a must-see during the latter part of the year, as oak, hickory, birch and maple trees display bright reds, coppers and golds around Bass Lake. As autumn turns to winter, hiking trails morph into cross country skiing jaunts across the park. But outdoor fun isn't the only way to spend your vacation time.
The city of Blowing Rock is less than a mile from Bass Lake and gives off a purely mountain town type of vibe. Real estate opportunities abound in the city which boasts 1,500 full-time residents and 8,000 summer residents. Boutique, antique and craft stores line the downtown area, attracting anyone wishing to bring memorabilia home with them. Art galleries and the performing arts center bring in quality attractions to the area, while farms and wineries give the area a down-home feel.
While Bass Lake may bring a feeling of serenity to visitors, the area around the lake provides opportunities to lift spirits and energy levels. Travel rugged and rough terrain trails up Grandfather Mountain or picnic by the lake during the day. At night, settle into vacation rentals that are close to all of the area's activities. Don't bring Bass Lake home with you -- make it your home today.
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