Blue Ridge Parkway | ABBOTT LAKE TRAIL (MP 85.4)

Abbott Lake near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Abbott Lake near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Length: 1 mile loop
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

The Abbott Lake Loop Trail is best reached from the parking lot closest to the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. It can also be reached via a long walk from the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center (not recommended) and a very short walk from the Peaks of Otter Picnic Area, though this puts you onto the trail in the middle. The true beginning is at the Lodge.

When at the parking lot, follow the paved path towards a tunnel that goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to hike the Johnson Farm Trail, take the tunnel to the trailhead on the other side, otherwise, stay on the paved path to walk the loop trail around Abbott Lake.

Trailhead for the Abbott Lake Trail at the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Trailhead for the Abbott Lake Trail at the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The trail is handicap accessible and alternates between a paved and gravel surface. There are a few slight hills, and those in wheelchairs will have an easier time if traversing the trail with an assistant. Other than that, there’s not much to it.

Gravel section of the Abbott Lake Trail on the parking lot side of the lake, Blue Ridge Parkway

Gravel section of the Abbott Lake Trail on the parking lot side of the lake, Blue Ridge Parkway

Abbott Lake near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Abbott Lake near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Abbott Lake Trail on the far side of the lake from the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Abbott Lake Trail on the far side of the lake from the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

On the far side of the lake is the historic Polly Wood’s Ordinary, a cabin that was used as an inn during the 1800s. Just hop off the trail for a short walk to see it. This detour, however, is not handicap accessible, as you must cut through the grass and head up a hill to get there. It may be open on occasion, but for the most part all you can do is take a photo from the outside.

Poly Wood's Ordinary near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Poly Wood’s Ordinary near the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Plans for the man-made lake were conceived back in the early 1940s, but were eventually dropped by park architect Stanley Abbott. It wasn’t until 1965, a year after the Peaks of Otter Lodge was completed, that plans for a lake were revived. Ironically, the lake was named for Abbott, who didn’t want it in the first place. The Polly Wood’s Ordinary had to be moved to its current location because it otherwise would now be at the bottom of the lake.

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Last updated on November 3, 2023
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