Nestled amid the Blue Ridge Mountains in the valley of Flat Creek sits the compact, secluded town of Montreat. The town (population 700), which is part of Buncombe County, is 18 miles east of downtown Asheville and features natural beauty untouched by commercial development.
Montreat was incorporated as a North Carolina township in 1967. Much of the property in the area is still owned by the Mountain Retreat Association, formed in 1897 by John Collins. Lake Susan, at the center of Montreat, is surrounded by historic stone buildings and offers paddle-boating, canoeing and fishing. Homes in the area allow for plenty of room to spread out: Everything from modern mountain retreats to quaint cabins dot the landscape.
Popular Montreat landmarks
Among the spots Montreat is famed for is Montreat College, a four-year liberal arts institution founded in 1916. The college brings many special events to Montreat, including symphonies, plays, community arts festivals, adult learning programs, community trips abroad and sports programs.Montreat Conference Center, one of three national conference centers affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, draws 35,000 visitors every year, and includes a hotel, guest lodges, and a stone auditorium. The Rev. Billy Graham and his wife called Montreat home, and lent significant support to the town and the college during their lifetime.
Montreat offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoor beauty for which Western N.C. is famed. In addition to a greenway, Montreat has five tennis courts, a playground, and plenty of hiking. The five-mile Greybeard Trail Hike leads to the top of Greybeard Mountain (elevation 5,480 feet). The trail starts on the edge of Montreat, following Flat Creek for a mile or two over rocky technical terrain before reaching a section of the trail called the Trestle switchbacks.
From there, the trail climbs more steeply to the summit of Greybeard through many short, technical sections. The summit offers stunning views of Black and Craggy Mountains as well as the foothills below.
Montreat's nearby destinations
Montreat is a quick drive to the charming town of Black Mountain, an arts and crafts, furniture and music mecca. Formerly home to the renowned Black Mountain College, Black Mountain offers an array of restaurants, specialty shops and breweries, as well as enviable access to lakes, waterfalls and hiking trails.
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