Bass Lake, North Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - North Carolina - Mountains -

Sitting snug amongst rhododendron trees, white pines and the 3,500-acre Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Bass Lake is the picture of both tranquility and nobility. Ducks find their way into the small body of water for a quiet swim, disturbed only by the laughter of children playing in the grass along the shoreline. The lake, set in a small valley, is surrounded on all sides by mountains and forests filled with winding trails. Bass Lake is a beautiful stop along the 500-mile long Blue Ridge Parkway. The 22-acre lake was constructed in 1908 by impounding the Middle Fork Creek in Watauga County, North Carolina.

A 1.7-mile gravel path curls around Bass Lake’s shoreline, where park benches are scattered among the overhanging trees and lush grass. This easy, flat gravel path is taken by joggers looking for a quick run, families with young children or elderly couples wishing for a quiet stroll around the lake. A glance to the north reveals the stately Flat Top Manor, also known as the Moses H. Cone Mansion, which is open to visitors during the spring, summer and fall months.

The mansion overlooking Bass Lake was built in 1901 by the park’s founder, Moses H. Cone. Cone acquired the land for his wife, Bertha Cone, so that she could explore the acres of pine and hardwood forests, the valleys, rivers and lakes. In 1950, the estate was donated to the National Park Service and now welcomes about 225,000 visitors each year.

Anglers looking for a quiet place to rest their feet and fishing lines can do so from Bass Lake’s shores, as bank fishing is the only fishing allowed at this lake. Lean back against a tree and patiently wait for a few nibbles on the line from the bass, trout and panfish that swim in the lake’s depths. Come during the week for a quieter atmosphere; weekends are busier at the lake as friends and families use the trail as a way to grab some fresh air.

Those visiting Bass Lake throughout the year easily find ways to stay busy in North Carolina’s Mountains tourism region. Vacation rentals and resorts are available and are only a few minutes walk away from the lake, making it simple to pack a lunch and start exploring the park. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails — once used as carriage trails — that wind their way throughout the park. Hikers and horseback riders are allowed to take advantage of easy, mile-long loops or rugged, strenuous terrain that takes you up the area’s mountainsides.

If you’re armed with binoculars or a camera, move slowly throughout the trails surrounding Bass Lake and take in both the picturesque scenery along with any shy wildlife you may come across. Magnolia trees pop out with pale, yellow blooms while other, lesser-known plant species, like painted trillium, lousewort or wild geranium, find themselves in the nooks and crannies of the trails. Birders with keen eyes and ears can witness a variety of avian species singing from the treetops, like black-throated warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks and Acadian flycatchers.

Fall foliage is a must-see during the latter part of the year, as oak, hickory, birch and maple trees display bright reds, coppers and golds around Bass Lake. As autumn turns to winter, hiking trails morph into cross country skiing jaunts across the park. But outdoor fun isn’t the only way to spend your vacation time.

The city of Blowing Rock is less than a mile from Bass Lake and gives off a purely mountain town type of vibe. Real estate opportunities abound in the city which boasts 1,500 full-time residents and 8,000 summer residents. Boutique, antique and craft stores line the downtown area, attracting anyone wishing to bring memorabilia home with them. Art galleries and the performing arts center bring in quality attractions to the area, while farms and wineries give the area a down-home feel.

While Bass Lake may bring a feeling of serenity to visitors, the area around the lake provides opportunities to lift spirits and energy levels. Travel rugged and rough terrain trails up Grandfather Mountain or picnic by the lake during the day. At night, settle into vacation rentals that are close to all of the area’s activities. Don’t bring Bass Lake home with you — make it your home today.

Things to do at Bass Lake NC

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Bass Lake NC

  • Bass
  • Trout

Bass Lake NC Photo Gallery

    Bass Lake NC Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: US Dept. of the Interior, Blue Ridge Parkway

    Surface Area: 22 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,560 feet

    Average Depth: 11 feet

    Water Volume: 240 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1908

    Drainage Area: 1 sq. miles

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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