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The North Carolina Arboretum (434 acres) is an arboretum and botanical garden located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, southwest of Asheville, North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is open daily except for Christmas Day. There is no admission charge, but some parking fees do apply. Although the idea for the arboretum stretches back to landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1898, who wished to create an arboretum at the nearby Biltmore Estate, today's arboretum was established by the General Assembly relatively recently, in 1986, as a facility of the University of North Carolina. In 1989 the site was officially designated the North Carolina Arboretum. The arboretum is still under active development. It includes many hiking and bicycling trails, a bonsai collection, a holly garden, a stream garden, etc., as described below. Its tree collection includes a fine set of Metasequoias planted in 1950, and now said to be the tallest in the south (over 100 feet (30 m) in height).

  • North Carolina Arboretum
  • North Carolina Arboretum
  • North Carolina Arboretum

Natural History Walks and Activities

The Blue Ridge Mountains offer the perfect place to learn more about the natural world, and the Arboretum has five different ways you can experience the natural history of the great outdoors.

  • Take a self-guided walk on the Natural Garden Trail. This 3/4 mile mulched trail connects the two main visitor facilities, the Baker Exhibit and the Education Center, and has trailheads easily reached from either building. Interpretive signs along the trail explain plant, animal, ecologic and environmental topics. Click here to download a .pdf map of the Arboretum campus, including trails and gardens.
  • Join a guided walk.  Each Saturday and Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m., April through November, interpretive guides lead small groups of participants along woodland trails and through a variety of forest types. Depending on the season, topics of discussion include wildflowers, plant and tree identification, natural history and the cultural and land use history of the Arboretum. Walks are free but donations to The North Carolina Arboretum Society are appreciated. For more information or to register for a walk, click here or
  • Bring a group. Planning a group visit of the Arboretum. You can schedule a guided trail walk exclusively for your party. Click here to view the group programs menu.
  • Register for a class. The Arboretum offers adult education programs on natural history topics, such as native trees and plants, ferns, mosses and lichens which are led by regional naturalists. Click here to view the latest class calendar and register for the programs of your choice. Program fees vary; Arboretum Society Members receive discounts on all adult education classes.
  • Become a Blue Ridge NaturalistThis 240 hour curriculum includes lecture series and multiple session field studies on such topics as geology, metereology, insects and botany and requires a 40 hour final project. Click here for more information.