Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Wildlife — Commonly Backpacked
Family Friendly: History and easy terrain
Rattlesnake Lodge was built in 1904 by Dr. Chase P. Ambler. His wife died in 1918 and he never returned to the Lodge. He sold it and it burned in 1926. The trail to the lodge was only 4 feet wide to discourage wagons and increase privacy.
There are two trails leading to the Lodge. One is a 1/2 mile steep climb from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the other is a shorter, and easier, hike from Ox Creek Road of about 1.4 miles. Ox Creek is near Weaverville, NC and about 14 miles north of Asheville.
About halfway to the Lodge is a nice view of the mountains. The rock foundation of the Cow Barn is on the right as you approach the lodge area on the Mountains to Sea Trail (from Ox Creek Road). The pool was only a few of feet deep, for safety, and being fed by a mountain spring, was quite cold. The water was furnished by an underground aqueduct.
The remains of the spring house are underneath a fallen tree (great for climbing!). The spring in the rear supplied running water through the bottom of the once fully enclosed house to keep it cool for the milk and other goods stored there. A nice informational sign marks the spot of the lodge. Actual elevation is around 3,700 (not 4,400 that is reprinted on the sign).
The main reservoir is about a quarter mile up a steep side trail which starts beside the large fallen tree over the spring (Blue Blaze). The reservoir, obviously roofed over for protection from the local wildlife, received water from two sources. One was from a spring at the site, which can be seen just above the reservoir, through a built-up, coverless manhole. Continue up the mountain on the trail to the other source, a spring on the Mountains to Sea Trail. This side trail is on top of the ditch dug for the water pipe. A piece of terra cotta pipe can still be seen in the middle of the trail, just beyond a rocky area shortly before reaching the upper spring. Take a right on the Mountains to Sea Trail to loop back down to the lodge area. About a quarter mile past the lodge and a small stream on the Mountains to Sea Trail is the fallen rock chimney of "The Shack." A simple board cabin, with bunk beds and a fireplace, it was built for the lodge construction workers. Later it became a guest cabin, available gratis to anyone hiking or riding through to other locations.