Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure is by far my favorite place in North Carolina; it has been part of my life far longer than I have been a Wake Forest student. Although it has been beloved by my extended family for the last 25 years, my family finally returned last year after a ten-year hiatus.
The 720-acre lake is somewhat unusual in that it is man-made; indeed, it was created when its waters were impounded in the Hickory Nut Gorge by a Carolina Mountain Power Company dam in 1925. However, although the beloved lake was not created by nature per se, it is the perfect destination for nature and adventure lovers. The “nature” aspect I can emphasize from personal experience — on one trip to Lake Lure when I was a child, I walked into the bathroom to find a five-foot black snake stretched out for a snooze on the rim of the bathtub.
Because Lake Lure is clean, calm and warm, it is the ideal spot for kayaking, sailing, canoeing and swimming. However, for me, its most appealing draw is water skiing. If you have never tried it before, it is immensely thrilling to skim across the wake of a boat at top-speed on a slalom ski, especially after the effort and core strength it requires to be yanked up to a standing position. If your parent is a government drone like mine and is immensely unqualified to drive a boat, there are multiple adventuring companies on the lake, such as the Lake Lure Adventure Company, that can take you out for a day of skiing.
If you are not as oriented towards water activities, the lush hills and sheer granite cliffs surrounding the lake are ideal for gentle and scenic hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking, especially in Chimney Rock State Park. The top of Chimney Rock, a 315-foot granite monolith, offers majestic views of Hickory Nut Gorge, the lake and the surrounding countryside. In addition, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, which is run by a Democratic representative in the North Carolina General Assembly, also offers horseback rides and is arguably the best destination for a grilled cheese sandwich south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Although the town of Lake Lure feels small and tucked away from the rest of the universe, it is also less than 30 miles from the city of Asheville, which is a must-visit destination for its vibrant arts scene, historic architecture and top-notch breweries and restaurants. It would be a terrible mistake to attend college in North Carolina for four years and miss out on this delightful gem of a lake.