The standout attraction at the Biltmore Estate is obviously George and Edith Vanderbilt II’s huge and lavish French Chateau mansion, built in the 1890s: the biggest private home in the United States, and a shining landmark of the Gilded Age. But the 8,000-acre estate grounds themselves, designed by the great landscape architect (and Central Park visionary) Frederick Law Olmsted, hold just as much magic, and the Deer Park Trail—part of some 22 miles of hiking trails on the site—shows it off at its best.
You need to pay the Biltmore Estate admission fee to hike its paths, but the payout is some of the prettiest countryside in Asheville’s hinterland.
The 2.5-mile-long course of the Deer Park Trail can be accessed from a few places, including from the South Terrace of the Biltmore house itself: Take in the long view out to the Blue Ridge skyline, then pass through the wrought-iron gate and pick up the path.
This upland route serves up vistas worthy of Romantic-era landscape paintings: broad sloping meadows, leafy groves, elegant plantings, and waterways. You’ll peer into the Walled Garden and admire the serene spread of Bass Lake; a spur trail accesses that pond, which includes handsome bridges and waterside benches. You’ll dip through a deep stand of exotic bamboo and skirt the Lagoon, another handsome water feature lying alongside the slow roll of the French Broad River.
All in all, the Deer Park Trail cranks the pastoral splendor up to the max. A ramble on it makes an excellent accouterment to a tour of the Biltmore House interior!
- In the springtime, the Deer Park Trail offers birdwatchers many opportunities for spotting warblers and other migrants in canopies and shrubbery.
- Sunset on the Biltmore Estate is its own special attraction: Consider timing your Deer Park Trail hike to wind down this time of day so you can enjoy the sundown show over the mountains.
- Eager for more Biltmore Estate beauty as seen by foot? You can link up with the Lagoon Trail to make a longer outing.