More than 400 acres of groomed gardens and trails near the Blue Ridge Parkway
A thrilling and always-changing forested landscape tucked away from city life and traffic, the North Carolina Arboretum (part of North Carolina’s university system) provides a canvas for relaxation and the simple pleasures of a good walk, sticking toes in streams, and moving among exhibits at the Baker Center.
Within its garden areas, you’ll find one of the loveliest bonsai collections in the Southeast and a quilt garden of individual plotted squares, grown instead of sewn. At Christmastime, the Arboretum’s light show has evolved into an iconic and fantasy-like celebration of the season.
North Carolina Arboretum ~ A 426-acre facility, part of the University of North Carolina, nicely sprawled out near the intersection of the French Broad River and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here you’ll find miles of lush forest trails to hike or cycle and formal gardens, including an “Appalachian Quilt Garden” and one of the South’s finest bonsai collections.
Hiking Trails and Mountain Bike Trails at the Arboretum
While helping design the grounds at Biltmore Estate, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned a public garden for Asheville. Today, the 434-acre Arboretum, located within the Pisgah National Forest, fulfills that dream. Nine trails wind through the Arboretum, some restricted to foot traffic while others can be used for both hiking and cycling. Most trails are easy to moderate.
The North Carolina Arboretum is a center for education, research, conservation, and garden demonstration. Throughout the year, the Arboretum offers a variety of educational programs, including seminars, exhibits, nature walks, and activities for children and families that want to learn about the plants, animals, crafts and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Listen to this living heritage moment to learn more.
The Bonsai Exhibition Garden
Of special interest to many visitors is the Arboretum’s Bonsai Exhibition Garden, where more than 100 quality specimens are on display. The North Carolina Arboretum collection includes not only traditional Asian bonsai subjects such as Japanese maple and Chinese elm, but also plants native to the North Carolina mountains, such as American hornbeam and eastern white pine.
The Arboretum’s Education Center houses a snack bar and art exhibit. The Baker Exhibit Center houses a traveling exhibit, exhibit greenhouse, and gift shop.
For hours and current fees, see NC Arboretum website for details.