Baby, It’s Hot Out There! Wildcat Lake in Banner Elk Can Provide a Fun Day of Relief

Published Monday, June 18, 2018 at 9:51 am

This lifeguard trio (left to right) of Aidan Betz, Morgan Greene and Sage McKinney from the Williams YMCA of Avery County provided safety for the summer swimmers at Wildcat Lake on June 16.

With high heat warnings across much of the state of North Carolina, it is the mountains that have a solution: Banner Elk’s Wildcat Lake!

Bask in the sun on the beach, then dip your tootsies in the chilly waters of Wildcat. Enjoy a beach volleyball game, then rest under a shaded pavilion or giant tree with a picnic lunch.

Watch the toddlers on the swings, catch a fish—little bass and bluegills for the kids, giant trout for dad. “Relaaaaxxx,” to quote a famous quarterback.

Swim laps, cannonball off the pier, admire giant clusters of gorgeous pink water lilies. Pack up some charcoal and grill a couple ‘dogs for lunch (sorry, four-legged variety not allowed).  

Lifeguards from Williams YMCA guard the waters, neighboring Grandfather Home for Children staff groom the beach and maintain the grounds—all are welcome for something-for-everybody anti-heat therapy!

With free admission, Wildcat Lake draws over 20,000 visitors each summer, so you’ll have to make a reservation for a picnic table for your lunch break! For reservations call Grandfather Home at (828) 898-5465. Donations are appreciated for use of the facilities.

The Lake is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weather permitting. Alcoholic beverages and pets are not allowed, but a good time is! Wildcat Lake is a 13-acre lake located on Hickory Nut Gap Road, Banner Elk, NC.

For more information about Wildcat Lake, visit their Facebook page at

Photos by Jim Swinkola

Family fun in the sand pile.

Smith and Jolley families at the Wildcat Lake beach.

Mike Vannoy enjoyed the day from his beach chair.

Volleyball action with Beech Mountain in the background.

Godfrey (left) and Taszi Gupta, both 13 years old, get ready to swim.

Mandy and Ty Southern enjoy family fishing from the floating dock.

Joey Johnson from Elk Park fished for his dinner.



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