Price Lake has it all (watch the video below). It's a memorable walk, in spring, summer or fall, when the water laps at the shore and views reach to Grandfather Mountain. It's also a wonderful place to paddle-just rent a canoe, rowboat, or new in 2013, a kayak, at the on-site rental facility that also sells bait and rents fishing tackle for anglers!In winter under deep snow, it makes a wonderful cross country ski tour (for beginners too). It winds through the lakeshore "A" loop of Price Lake Campground-easily one of the premier places on the Parkway to set up a tent (closed in winter).
Price Lake is on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Blowing Rock and just north of Grandfather Mountain. Either of two lakeshore overlooks is a potential starting point. The Boone Fork Overlook is reached by a spur road at Milepost 297.2. Price Lake Overlook is at Milepost 296.7 (where canoe rentals are available). At times a steep hill on the Parkway is gated between Blowing Rock and Price Lake so you might have to reach it from the south via US 221.
Start at the southern end of the Boone Fork Overlook by the trail map sign to descend a wheelchair-accessible ramp behind the boat rental building. The first 0.7 mile of this trail is level and wheelchair accessible to fishing spots on the lake and Boone Fork Creek.
The trail winds through rhododendron and away from the lakeshore to cross a bridge over Cold Prong. The trail crosses a boggy area on a long and level boardwalk at about 0.5 mile through a scenic high elevation forest. The path crosses a longer bridge over the lake's main source, Boone Fork. The trail emerges on the lakeshore opposite the boat launch at an accessible lakeside fishing deck (photo above right). This 1.0-mile or so out-and-back hike is one of the Parkway's best for the wheelchair-bound, the elderly and beginning or very young cross-country skiers or hikers.
From here, around the lake to the Parkway, the trail is a woodsy and quiet walk around the longest arm of the lake. The trail turns right along the end of the lake and climbs a little through a rhododendron before descending back to the lakeshore. This prong of the lake constricts to a marshy area and the feeder stream of Laurel Creek.
The trail turns left, crosses a small bridge at about 1.0 mile (where you might see evidence of beaver activity). The path bears left again bound for the Parkway and the dam that impounds the lake. The trail has benches now and then, but there's one tucked down by the lakeshore at 1.2 miles. The views of Grandfather Mountain are particularly good along this eastern side of the lake. A variety of rocks reach into the water, enticing boaters to land and fishers to cast.
The trail passes a large rock at 1.4 miles then undulates its way to steps down to the Parkway at 1.7 miles. Go left across the bridge over the dam through Price Lake Overlook, a popular fishing spot. Continue on a paved path on the roadside where a lakeside deck creates another wheelchair-accessible place to fish or catch a view.
Enter tall evergreens through the campground, bisecting Loop A on a paved path (past a restroom). At 2.2 miles, the trail crosses the last campground loop to a junction. Go left. To the right, a trail crosses the Parkway to other campground loops and the Tanawha Trail Parking Area. The Price Lake Trail goes left past the campground amphitheater to enter the northern end of the Boone Fork Overlook. Your car should be close, at 2.5 miles.
(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 Price 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!