An easy loop hike around Price Lake with beautiful vistas of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock North Carolina is the 4,200 acre Julian Price Memorial Park. This beautiful section of the parkway is home to rolling mountains, numerous creeks, and a couple of mountain lakes including the 47-acre Price Lake. This popular spot supports camping, fishing, kayaking, and a number of hiking trails including the easy 2.7 mile Price Lake Trail that loops around the beautiful Price Lake.
Julian Price Memorial Park was named in honor of Julian Price who was an insurance executive in the early part of the twentieth century. Mr. Price originally purchased the area in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s to create a retreat for the employees of his insurance company. When he died suddenly in 1946, his heirs gave the land to the Blue Ridge Parkway as a memorial to the man who enjoyed sharing the area’s natural beauty with others. Julian Price Memorial Park is adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park which, combined, comprise the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Parkway.
Price Lake is located at about Milepost 297 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are two common starting points for the loop; either the Price Lake Overlook at Milepost 296.7 or the Boone Fork Overlook at Milepost 297.1. You could also start at the Julian Price Campground if you were staying there. Whereever you choose to start, the trail is easy to find as there is good signage along the parkway and you can’t miss Price Lake as you drive right past it on the parkway. Price Lake isn’t too far from any of the North Carolina mountain towns like Blowing Rock, Boone, or Banner Elk.
The trail is easy to find as it is well marked at all of the common starting points. We started at the Boone Fork Overlook and we describe the hike from there. Head towards the boat rentals at the South end of the parking area and take the ramp down behind the building. The trail begins at the bottom of the ramp.
The hike around Price Lake is mostly flat and the trail is very well maintained and easy to follow. There are numerous benches throughout the hike as well as a number of great views of the gorgeous Price Lake as it mirrors the surrounding mountains in its waters.
The tail goes through several distinct sections that are beautiful and keep the hike interesting. The trail initially begins with a beautiful walk in the forest as you wander away from the lakeshore through tress and rhododendron. You then enter a boggy area where some of the trail is on an elevated boardwalk. There are a few creek crossings but they are all bridged. As you reach the far end of the lake, opposite the boat launch, the trail stays closer to the lake and you get some great views. If you look carefully, you may see evidence of beavers that live in the area.
As you head towards the far end of the lake, at Laurel Creek, the trail narrows slightly and weaves between the forest and the lakeshore. As you approach Laurel Creek, there is a short boardwalk as the area becomes marshy and you cross over the creek. This is a nice spot to enjoy the view of the creek but the lake is somewhat obstructed here.
After crossing Laurel Creek, the forest becomes noticeably thicker with some areas of the trail becoming tunnels through rhododendron. We thought that this side of the lake afforded the best views.
As you near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the area becomes very rocky with a number of large boulders. Eventually you reach a short set of stairs that leads down to a path at the dam that forms Price Lake. Cross over the bridge and follow the sidewalk to the far end of the Price Lake Overlook. The paved trail parallels the Parkway for a bit as it passes a nice viewing platform on the side of the lake.
The trail then leads back into the woods for a short jaunt through the campground. The trail through the campground is mostly paved and passes directly beside a restroom facility. After the campground, the trail will pass a small amphitheater where you complete the loop as you arrive back at the north side of the Boone Fork Overlook parking area.
We hope you enjoyed your hike, and the priceless views, around Price Lake. We certainly enjoyed it when we visited.