Updated: Nov 6
Asheville NC is one of the most magical places on earth, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At just a little over 2 hours away from Charlotte NC, it is an easy road trip from the city. I just love this place and have been here several times. Asheville deserves millions of blogs. It is so wonderful. So, I will be writing several blogs this summer on The Biltmore Estate and Asheville NC. Today's blog will be about the major water locations at The Biltmore Estate. I am breaking all my Biltmore Estate sights down into several blogs because there is just so much to write about, so much to see, and so many pictures. Today's blog will just be about the Bass Pond, and The Lagoon with a touch of history added in because that is what the Biltmore is all about, history.
Visiting the Biltmore can be quite pricey. If you buy the Gardens and Grounds ticket, you do not have entry into the house. So be aware of that if you want to tour the house also. They do have many different options for tickets so check it out and buy online before you go.
Pictures below are of the Bass Pond.
The estate itself was built over 125 years ago by George Vanderbilt. Not by him, but for him and his guests. The landscape architect was Fredrick Law Olmsted and Richard Morris Hunt was the estate architect.
Pictures below of the boathouse, and bridge over the Bass Pond.
Olmsted was born in 1822 and is thought of as the father of landscape architecture. He helped build the Central Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and many more in the United States and Canada. Vanderbilt hired Olmsted in 1889 for the landscape part of the estate. Side note..... Olmsted was not impressed with the land surrounding the estate and wanted everything to be redone. New forests, farms, everything. Vanderbilt agreed with everything Olmsted said. Olmsted is also considered to be an early conservationist. He helped in making public reserves of land in California at the Yosemite Valley and also in New York at Niagara Falls. He believed beautiful landscapes need to be preserved for people to see and take in their beauty.
The Bass Pond is an old creek filled millpond created for fishing, rowing and general relaxation for Vanderbilts guests. It is about 6 acres, and it is 1 of 2 man-made water features on the property. A rustic boathouse, man-made waterfall, and 2 islands were built in the pond, along with a bridge. There are a few trails to hike nearby too. My favorite thing to do is sit at the boathouse on a slow day and take in all the scenic beauty. It is a great place to just relax and do some thinking and reflecting. I am sure some of Vanderbilts guests did the same thing here over 100 years ago.
The Bass Pond has a channel under it. This helps the low flowing water go into the pond. This channel helps the pond when it's raining. You know how some ponds are muddy when it rains. This helps the pond not be as muddy. Cool huh???
Pictures below are of waterfall at the Bass Pond, and 2 are from the bridge above the waterfall.
I love how the trees hang over the path as you walk to the pond. As you walk onto the bridge the trees nearby just make it beautiful. You walk above the man-made waterfall on the bridge, and at times you can see the reflection of the trees in the pond. One of my favorite things is birdwatching, the ecology of those 2 islands in the pond which serve as a little water bird sanctuary. Bring your binoculars and watch the waterbirds. Olmsted when building did this intentionally. There is a letter he wrote to Vanderbilt that has been saved, that reads how and why he wanted this pond and islands built. The last reason he wrote in the letter stated the islands were "needed as a breeding area for shy waterside birds, many of which will only make their nests in the seclusion of thickets apparently inaccessible."
More pictures of the Bass Pond below.
I advise going when the park isn't as busy. Memorial Day Weekend is busy, but not as busy as the Apple Festival time in the fall (Apple festival is in nearby Hendersonville NC). So, if you want to relax, pick a day in the spring or fall but avoid those days. Although fall is beautiful (early October) for the color change in the leaves of the trees. My favorite time is May b/c of the 15-acre Azalea Garden that you can walk through to get to the Bass Pond. The trail system past the Azalea Garden is easy to follow, it is paved or has pavers to walk on, and only .3 miles away from the Azalea Garden. Side note...... it is an easy walk from the Conservatory 1.3 miles total, but it is slightly downhill, so just be aware you will be going back uphill to get back to the estate. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes to enjoy the estate in its entirety. Another side note........ Prices vary at the Estate, fall prices are more expensive than spring and summer prices.
Over time one of the islands disappeared in the Bass Pond, but last year the estate took measures to rebuild the island to look just like a picture taken of the Bass Pond from years ago. By May 2022 they were doing the landscaping of the island which you can now see today looks great. Covered in Iris's, and other tall grasses. Now the waterbirds will have more areas to nest in, just like they did years ago.
One thing I think would be beautiful here is a marriage proposal. I can see it at the boathouse perfectly. You can contact the Estate and go all out with decorating the boat house to make your wedding proposal magical. But better yet, a simple proposal at the boathouse or on the bridge would be amazing just because you are surrounded by all that beauty. I mean just look at that beautiful rustic railing on the bridge in the picture on the right.
The Lagoon is a beautiful peaceful place for a walk. There are stunning views of the estate from the west side. Sometimes you can even see a reflection of the estate in the water. The Lagoon is a must see stop. Walk or have a picnic while visiting the lagoon and enjoy some relaxation. This is an easy spot to just drive by, on the way to Antler Hill Village. You will always see water birds at the lagoon, and nearby in the farm fields you can see goats.
The Lagoon pictures with Canadian Geese and Goats nearby (The Goats are new this year I believe).
Olmsted also created The Lagoon. He believed that this location would be a great peaceful water feature. With the proximity of the French Broad River, it helps to keep the Lagoon at the same water level, by being built just above the river. Also Olmsted wanted it right here for the way the estate's reflection can be seen in the water. Side note..... did you know that the French Broad River is the 3rd oldest river in the world based upon geologist's research. Also, it gets its name because of the French Settlement that was here many years ago. Real interesting huh?
The Lagoon Trail is a trail that is just under 3 miles long, it is in my opinion an easy walk instead of hike. It is wide, paved and flat. At times you might want to watch out for bikes riding up behind you, so stay to the right and/or look over your shoulder. Start the walk at the Antler Hill Village and you will not miss the path with views of the countryside, farms and French Broad River. Other trails have junctions on The Lagoon Trail, like the Farm Trail, Deer Park Trail and Arbor Trace Trail which are more challenging than this easy walk of The Lagoon Trail.
Some quick trail info, all considered harder than The Lagoon Trail
Arbor Trace Trail -3.5 miles
Deer Park Trail-2.5 miles
Farm Trail-6 miles
Learn how to fly fish at The Lagoon with the Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing School. You will be fishing from a boat (as seen in the picture). It is a 2-hour class if interested and I hear that it is very instructional, and you will go out onto The Lagoon after your educational lesson. You can book at the Antler Hill Village, contact them if interested. I have never been interested because it is pricey, but it is neat to watch the lessons happening while there. Instead of fishing you could rent a kayak or do a float raft tour of the French Broad River. When walking The Lagoon path, you will see people kayaking on the French Broad River as long as you are not walking it in the winter. You can also book kayaking tours with other companies outside the Biltmore, my favorite is French Broad Outfitters. It will save you about $10 bucks after taxes.
Pictures below, 1 from the road in spring, and the other in late fall. See the house above the Lagoon.
Hope you have enjoyed this little bit of info on the water features at The Biltmore Estate. As you can probably tell, the Bass Pond is my favorite of the 2. You should check them both out when you make the trip. If you have any questions about the Asheville area, The Biltmore, or would like any other help planning your adventure anywhere in the world make an appointment on my website. I am cheaper than a travel agent.
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