Lake James is one of the loveliest lakes in Western North Carolina. An easy drive of less than an hour, Lake James State Park lies east of Asheville. We packed up the two eager dogs and went there one beautiful summer weekend. There is no entry fee. That was a welcome surprise. Leashed dogs were welcome, that was another welcome surprise.
The cordoned off swimming area did not allow dogs, though. That made good sense to us. Instead, the park rangers aimed us up a gorgeous trail over a hill and through the woods. About a quarter of a mile up the trail was a little trail turnoff that led to a small lake inlet. We were happy to discover that we were the only ones there, that day. We set up blankets and picnic, and let the dogs run loose. They raced up and down the beach, trying to catch the tiny waves. They came out into deeper water and swam with us. Oh, the water!!! Clear, clean, and warm as a bathtub. That was the most welcome surprise of all! It is an incredibly clean lake. The dogs actually smelled clean when we got home… I’m used to having to wash the creek smells off them when they go swimming, but not at Lake James.
Canoes, jet skis and various floating vehicles went past on the main body of the lake, but all was peaceful in our little private inlet. The wake from the passing boats was pleasant. That inlet would have been the perfect place to bring an inflatable raft or inner tube. I hear fishing is good at this lake, but we didn’t go where any fishing was happening.
Our visit occurred in July. Where were all the bugs? Shouldn’t we have been bitten right and left by mosquitoes and such? It just didn’t happen. Who knows why. There were a few flies, that’s about all.
Bring a picnic, if you go. There are no concessions, and the nearest town really isn’t near. This park is waaaay out in the boondocks, where any good state park ought to be. Here is their website, if you want to find out more: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/laja/main.php