Lake James is one of the most beautiful lakes in western North Carolina. Less than an hour’s drive away, Lake James State Park is east of Asheville. We packed up the two eager dogs and went there on a beautiful summer weekend. There is no entrance fee. That was a pleasant surprise. Leashed dogs were welcome, that was another pleasant surprise.

However, the roped off swimming area did not allow dogs. That made a lot of sense to us. Instead, the park rangers directed us on a beautiful trail over a hill and through the forest. About a quarter of a mile down the trail there was a little turnoff that led to a small inlet of the lake. We were happy to find out that we were the only ones there that day. We set up blankets and picnics, and let the dogs run loose. They ran up and down the beach, trying to catch the little 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 amazingly clean lake. The dogs smelled clean when we got home… I’m used to having to remove the creek smell from them when they go swimming, but not in Lake James.

Canoes, jet skis, and various floating vehicles passed through the main body of the lake, but all was quiet in our little private cove. The wake of the passing ships was nice. That entrance would have been the perfect place to bring an inflatable raft or inner tube. I heard the fishing is good on this lake, but we didn’t go where the fishing was happening.

Our visit happened in July. Where were all the bugs? Shouldn’t we have been bitten left and right by mosquitoes and so on? It just didn’t happen. Who knows why. There were a few flies, that’s all.

Bring a picnic, if you go. There are no concessions, and the nearest town really isn’t close. This park is sooooo in the suburbs, where any good state park should be. Here is their website, if you want more information: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/laja/main.php

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