Bear Lake Reserve (Everything You Need to Know about this NC Mountains Getaway)

Last Updated on October 6, 2021

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If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

Nestled in the mountains of Jackson County, between Glenville and Sylva is Bear Lake Reserve. Comprised of 13.5 miles of shoreline along Bear Lake, this all-inclusive luxury resort in North Carolina is perfect for families, romantic getaways, and making memories. 

Bear Lake Reserve is a 2,100-acre gated community with private residences and rentals peppering the 500-acre Bear Creek Lake. Start your adventure at the Lake Club and enjoy delicious dining, a dip in one of the pools, and shopping. 

Regardless of which path you choose, Bear Lake Reserve is ready to host your amazing getaway in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Inside our guide, we’ve broken things down to share this wonderful place “at a glance,” its location and when to visit, things to do, and more.

If you’re looking for something specific, here’s how we’ve organized things (Categories in Bold followed by Sub-categories):

  • Bear Lake Reserve at a Glance
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Indoor Activities
  • Where is Bear Lake Reserve?
  • When to Visit
  • The Secret Season
  • Stay Info
  • Things to Do
  • Explore Nearby

Bear Lake Reserve At A Glance

Outdoor Activities

  • Hike
  • Fish
  • Boat rentals: pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle-boards
  • Golf 
  • Lakeside beach
  • Camping
  • Pickleball & Tennis
  • Disc
  • Golf 
  • Concerts at The Amphitheater 
  • Two Pools with a waterslide

Indoor Activities

  • Restaurant 
  • Lounge
  • Movie Theater 
  • Kids Play Area
  • Library 
  • Fitness Center 

Booking and More Info: bearlakereserve.com

Where is Bear Lake Reserve?

The Views at Bear Lake Reserve are a huge part of why we endorse this NC mountains getaway.

Bear Lake Reserve is a beautiful yet isolated slice of North Carolina heaven. It is near Cashiers and Sylva in Jackson County, about 90 minutes away from Asheville.

Before checking in, we stopped in Cashiers for all of our groceries. However, if you forget a basic idea, Bear Lake has grocery packages to help out!

Once you reach the Greeter’s Cottage, there is a 5-mile drive through lush forests and stunning lake views to the Lake Club and most of the rentals. 

When to Visit

Bear Lake Reserve is beautiful all-year-round, but when it comes to activities, the best time to visit is in the summer.

Hit the lake with a boat, slide down the waterslide at one of two pools, and play a round of golf. During the summer, Bear Lake Reserve is full of memory-making activities!

Fall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy the changing colors and staying up late laughing by the fire. You also might be surprised to find out that winter is a fantastic time to retreat to Bear Lake Reserve as well, with the season dubbed the “Secret Season.”

Why You Should Visit during the Secret Season

Fire place at Bear Lake Reserve

While summer and fall are most well-known for outdoor activities at Bear Lake Reserve, the Secret Season is just as good!

Sunsets and star-gazing are magical with the colder temperatures, and snuggling in front of the fireplace makes for wonderful memories. During the winter, relax with a massage, a delicious meal at the Lake Club, and beautiful views.

Villas at Bear Lake Reserve

While many of the water activities at Bear Lake Reserve aren’t ideal in the winter, this is the perfect time to go for a hike. Fewer leaves on the trees mean more epic views of both the lake and the expansive views.

Staying at Bear Lake Reserve

The accommodations at Bear Lake Reserve are luxurious. Their rentals are perfect for families, couples, or a girl’s getaway.

We stayed in their Villas, but there are accommodations for all family sizes and styles. We can guarantee clean, beautiful, and modern rooms and living spaces at this reserve.

Things to Do at Bear Lake Reserve

The Lake Club

Bear Lake Reserve Image Courtesy of Bear Lake Reserve
Photo Credit: Bear Lake Reserve.

The Lake Club is your base of outdoor recreation and entertainment at Bear Lake Reserve. From here, you’ll find beach access, two restaurants, pools, and more!

Enjoy the outdoors at Bear Lake through the many lake activities. Kayak, canoe, swim, paddle-board–there are endless options! 

If you are like us and always looking for a trail, Bear Lake Reserve has over 20 miles of winding trails. 

Golfing at Bear Lake Reserve

The Bear Lake Golf Club greens are a par-29, nine-hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Sitting between 3,400 to 3,700 feet of elevation, this golf course yields some of the best views of North Carolina’s mountains.

Make sure to take a moment to pause at No. 7 for a view of Clingmans Dome

Getting Married?

Bear Lake Reserve is also a popular destination for North Carolina weddings. With four different venues, say “I do” while enveloped in greenery and the ones you love.

Make yours a true destination wedding for you and your guests to celebrate your love. 

Camping at Bear Lake Reserve

If you want to sleep under the stars, Bear Creek Park is a camping ground with treehouse-style tent platforms. Wake up and sip your coffee by the stream and enjoy your own fire pit, grill, and picnic table. 

Explore Nearby

Upper Whitewater Falls near Bear Lake Reserver
Upper Whitewater Falls.

While there are tons of things to do at the Reserve for an entire weekend, there is also plenty to explore nearby.

Within an hour, you can reach the tallest waterfalls East of the Rockies: Upper Whitewater Falls and Rainbow Falls, with the latter offering more of a challenging hike. If you’re traveling south on NC 107 to Upper Whitewater Falls, stop at Silver Run Falls along the way.

Panthertown is also about an hour away and home to wonderful hikes, such as the one that leads to Schoolhouse Falls.

If you’re looking to shop at quaint stores and sip local beer, then head into Sylva or Cashiers. Both mountain towns have a charm to them that is worth soaking up.

You’ll also want to stop in Cashiers for a supermarket if you did not bring any groceries from home.

Dry Falls Roadside Waterfall near Highlands North Carolina
Dry Falls.

A bit further away is Brevard, the land of waterfalls! We have shared our favorite Brevard waterfalls before, but there are so many that it can be hard to pick the best one!

Many guests at Bear Lake also head toward Highlands to Dry Falls, a unique walk-behind waterfall that is easy to access.

Ready to Stay/Live at Bear Lake Reserve?

Porch at Bear Lake Reserve

Bear Lake Reserve is a beautiful hidden gem in North Carolina. Tucked away in Jackson County, there is plenty of fun to be had on the property.

Enjoy the water and beach during the summer and snuggle up and rewind during the winter. No matter what season you visit, Bear Lake Reserve is a fantastic vacation spot in North Carolina!

More Things to Do in Western North Carolina

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