Biltmore Forest is an affluent suburb of Asheville, with the highest per-capita income of any NC town over 1,000 people. That’s what happens when you’re keeping up with the Vanderbilts; Biltmore Forest is the nearest community to the nation’s largest privately-owned home, the historic Biltmore House.
Your furbabies will find plenty of creature comforts in Biltmore Forest. There are three veterinary practices within five minutes of town. Pet supply stores are just over the city limits to the north and south on Hendersonville Road, and Woof Gang Bakery is located in the Biltmore Park Town Square nearby.
Fortunately, you can also get in a workout in Biltmore Forest. Rosebank Park is nestled between Vanderbilt Road and Park Road, and this open space with a kids’ play area is long enough to get in some good chasing with your high-energy friends. The pocket-sized Greenwood Park between Stuyvesant and Greenwood Roads is also good for a quick stretch. Many local subdivisions also maintain private parks and trail systems and most have well-maintained sidewalks: just grab a leash and meet your neighbors while your buddies do some getting-to-know-you sniffing.
Of course, with the wild and rugged Blue Ridge Mountains on your doorstep, it’s easy to find a more daring adventure. The Appalachian Trail passes by Asheville, and several satisfying day hikes can get your fur family a taste of that trail life without walking all the way to Maine.
Built by George Vanderbilt II in the 1890s in the spirit of European palaces, the Biltmore House also has a stunning 250-acre estate designed by NY Central Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead. Vanderbilt was a famous dog lover, particularly his Saint Bernard Cedrick. Famous Gilded Age visitors noted that Cedrick had the run of the home’s first floor, but unfortunately, pups aren’t allowed to tour the home these days (even though yours are very, very good boys). They can tag along for your exploration of the grounds, including a network of paths, Azalea Garden, Rose Garden, and pond. Your buddies can even dine with you on patios at the restaurants at Antler Hill Village. Be sure to make reservations in advance to be guaranteed outdoor seating.
Whether you like to look at trees or pee on them, the North Carolina Arboretum is as good as it gets, and it's only 6 miles from Biltmore Forest. Over 400 acres of deep forest and cultivated garden are explored on the 10 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, all of which welcome on-leash dogs. Depending on how long your buddy’s legs are, you might prefer the gentle half-mile loop through the Azalea Collection, or maybe the difficult 3.5 mile loop on Owl Creek Trail and Hard Times Road. Connecting trails also lead from the arboretum to Lake Powhatan and the Pisgah National Forest. A small parking fee applies and supports the facility’s conservation efforts, and be sure to bring water and waste bags.
Five miles from Biltmore Forest, Downtown Asheville prides itself on a funky, artsy vibe, and that means dogs are welcome in a variety of local businesses. There are more than 150 dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating in Asheville, and many downtown boutiques and galleries let your pup join while you browse. Let’s hope he has a nose for fashion! To make sense of all your options, stop by the Doggy Visitor’s Center at the Dog Door Behavior Center & Dog Hugger Outfitters. They’ll welcome you to town with maps and information, plus a few goodies for your pals to try. You might also download the trail map for the Asheville Urban Trail. This 1.7 mile tour of downtown includes dozens of works by public art; the trail map explains their significance to Asheville history.
If you’re going to hike, then hike! Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi with a summit at 6,684 feet above sea level. On-leash pets are welcome at Mount Mitchell State Park, about 37 miles from Biltmore Forest and well worth the drive. The park has 5 hiking trails to choose from. Those who want to summit Mount Mitchell should prepare for a difficult 6-mile one-way hike, and only the fittest trail-hounds should try it. Tamer pups can get a great view of the peak from the Upper Summit Parking Lot and catch the Balsam Nature Trail there for a moderate 0.75-mile loop (and interpretive signs that might interest you a bit more than your furry friends).