A classic, handicapped-accessible hike or cross country ski tour around a scintillating High Country lake.
This hike starts on US 221 a half-mile south of the US 221/Business 321 junction in downtown Blowing Rock. From the Parkway, exit at Milepost 294.6 to US 221, turn left toward Blowing Rock. It's a mile downhill to two Bass Lake trailheads. The first is a left turn down to Bass Lake Parking Area on the bank of the lake. Just beyond that turn, the Bass Lake parking slip is on the left side of the road. Print out the Parkway's trail map of Moses Cone Park (scroll down to "Moses Cone" on the Parkway's brochure page).
This is an extremely easy, scenic, 0.8-mile loop that is unpaved but suitable for wheelchairs and baby carriages (no bicycles or horses permitted). Cross country skiers will want to ski this soon after snow before walkers scatter footprints (or take the less traveled sidetrip through The Maze; see below). The Bass Lake loop is easiest from the lakeshore parking area below US 221-a handicapped ramp descends from there past new restrooms built by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Fishing is allowed at the lake-read the sign on the trail by the restrooms. Also see our Parkway fishing guide for details.
Take a right out of the lot (or go left-either direction is fine). The grade weaves in and out along the grassy lakeshore amid maples that flame in fall and reaches a junction right at 0.2 mile-the 0.4-mile side trail to the parking slip on US 221. Head left across the dam, with the Cone Manor House visible well above the lake. Across the dam, keep left as The Maze trail bears right (you could add The Maze loop, see below). Cross a span over the lake's outlet and then a second road, Deer Park Carriage Road, goes right (the return leg of The Maze hike).
Continue left around the lake; the parking area is visible beyond an island on the opposite shore. The trail turns right and then left around the upper end of the lake where a bridge crosses the inlet brook at 0.6 mile. There's another bridge soon after, where hikers with dogs step off the trail to give their pets a drink. It's a few hundred feet back to the parking area for an 0.8-mile loop.
For a longer loop, start at the parking slip on US 221. Pass an iron gate and gradually descend about 0.1 mile to a T junction. The access road to the lakeshore parking area is just to the left. Turn right to the lake 0.2 mile from your car. Turn right to cross the dam. The added access distance makes this a 1.2-mile loop.
To include a 3-mile side-trip through the The Maze, turn right just over the dam and wind your mystifying way around the confusing corkscrew of The Maze. When you reach the junction at the Apple Barn in 2.6 miles, turn left. At the next junction, at 2.8 miles, turn left there on the Deer Park Carriage Road and descend to the lakeshore Bass Lake Trail at 3.3 miles. Head left there and it's a 3.6 total mile hike back to your car at either the US 221 parking slip or the lakeshore Bass Lake Parking Area.
(For more detail on this or other Boone area trails, pick up a trail guide by local outdoor expert Randy Johnson.)
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for the Bass Lake hike. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the trailhead parking map balloon, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the hike from wherever you are!