Updated: April 2019
Envisioned by F. Olmsted in 1898
American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted originally envisioned the North Carolina Arboretum in 1898, shortly after he finished the beautiful grounds on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, which include → The Gardens at Biltmore House.
Frederick Olmsted was well known through his design of Central Park in New York City and the designs of many other parks in the U.S. and Canada, on which he had worked with his senior partner Calvert Vaux. However, it took another 90 years to make his idea of an arboretum a reality. Finally, in 1986, the North Carolina Arboretum was created and is part of the University of North Carolina.
11 Trails for Hiking and Biking
The North Carolina Arboretum covers over 434 acres within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, of which 65 acres are cultivated gardens. A total of 11 trails for hiking and biking offer over 10 miles (16 km) of fun and relaxation through western North Carolina woodlands. The trails are categorized from easy to difficult. If you are up to a serious hike, the Bent Creek Trail connects to the trail leading to Lake Powhatan.
Tours with Volunteer Guides
On Saturday and Tuesday afternoons at 1 pm, trained volunteer guides lead small groups along woodland trails through a variety of forest types and explain wildflowers, plants, and trees.
Extensive Bonsai Collection
One of the North Carolina Arboretum’s highlights is their extensive bonsai collection. The Bonsai Exhibition Garden, which opened to the public in 2005, shows more than 100 display-quality specimens. Usually, the age of the tree is given much focus in a bonsai collection. As the age of the bonsai plants is mostly unknown to the North Carolina Arboretum due to the many donations, curator Arthur Joura focuses more on the artistic design and health of the bonsai plants. He is also a fan of using Southern plants like the Eastern white pine, red maple, Virginia creeper and American hornbeam for his bonsai creations to add to the traditional Chinese elm and Japanese maple, which are the more typical bonsai plants.
April to October:
Mon. to Sun.: 8am to 9pm.
November to March:
Mon. to Sun.: 8am to 7pm.
Baker Exhibit Center, Education Center:
Mon. to Sun.: 9am to 5pm.
Mon. to Sun.: 9am to 5pm (May to Oct.).
Rocky Cover Railroad:
Sat. to Sun.: 12pm to 4pm (Apr. to Oct.).
$14 per car.
Parking at the Baker Exhibit Center.
Great trails for hiking, biking or just to enjoy nature.
The Arboretum offers 11 hiking trails. Some are shared with bikers.
The Arboretum offers 11 biking trails. Some are shared with hikers.
The Arboretum is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available at the Education Center and the Baker Exhibit Center.
Sandwiches and soft drinks can be purchased at the Savory Thyme Café in the Education Center.
Restrooms are located in the Education Center, the Baker Exhibit Center and the Outdoor Events Center.