Dog friendly lakes, Western North Carolina

May 27, 2022  •  6 Comments

Ah the joys of being able to go swimming in the water without fear of an alligator!  Recently we spent a couple of weeks up in Western North Carolina enjoying the mountains hiking, biking, swimming - outside with nature.

As many of you know, we live a few blocks from the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace, Florida (a small city on the east side of Tampa).  But - the Hillsborough River has alligators.  And those alligators find dogs tasty - so our dogs have been trained that they are NOT allowed in the water - no swimming allowed.  That's mostly for their protection from these big alligators that many times aren't as afraid of people as we would like them to be (hint to those of you that think it might be fun to feed them - it's illegal).

But - when we head up to the mountains, there aren't any alligators.  Sure there are snakes, those are everywhere - but the likelihood of a snake biting our dog in the water is probably even less than an alligator attack.  So, once we scout the water, if it's clear - it's game on.  Abby absolutely loves the water.  Especially if she is hot (but that's probably true for all dogs).

These aren't portraits of dogs, these aren't fancy photographs this week - but they do show my girls Abby, Ollie and Rue enjoying being dogs!  When we arrive at one of these lakes with the 'Georgia red clay' bottoms, this is what I see - a beautiful scene with cool water (it was late April).

Finger Lake, Fontana, North CarolinaFinger Lake, Fontana, North CarolinaFinger Lake, Fontana, North Carolina

And this is what Abby sees. A Place to jump in and cool off.

Dog standing in lake, Jack Rabbit Trails, North CarolinaDog standing in lake, Jack Rabbit Trails, North CarolinaDog standing in lake, Jack Rabbit Trails, North Carolina None of our dogs are much for swimming, so I usually have zero worry that they are going to go very far.  They just love playing at the water's edge where there feet are still on solid ground.  Well, most of the time there feet are on the ground - except when its time to jump on your sister.

Dogs at lake shore, Tsali Trails, North CarolinaDogs at lake shore, Tsali Trails, North CarolinaDogs at lake shore playing, Tsali Trails, North Carolina

Abby splashing along the shoreline of the lake at Tsali bike trails, Whittier, North Carolina (near Fontana, North Carolina).

Dog running in lake, Jack Rabbit trails, North CarolinaDog running in lake, Jack Rabbit trails, North CarolinaDog running in lake, Jack Rabbit trails, near Haysville, North Carolina

Tsali Trailhead - Bike, Hiking, Horse Trails

So where exactly is Tsali bike trails?  It's near Fontana, North Carolina and is located near several different lakes.  In addition to biking trails, there are also plenty of trails to hike on (share them with the bikers or the horses) and also trails available for those with horses.  They alternate by day whether a given trail is for bicycles or horses - so you shouldn't meet both of them if you're hiking on foot.  Snipet from Google maps to help provide location information on these trails.

Tsali Bike Trails LocationTsali Bike Trails LocationGoogle snipet for location of Tsali Bike Trails

Jack rabbit Trailhead - Hiking and Bicycling

Jack Rabbit trails are located near Hayesville, North Carolina.  Several of the trails are located along the lake shoreline.  All trails are marked very well and blazed different colors.  Hikers share the same trails as those bicycling.  There is a 'restroom' on site in the parking lot (but nothing fancy).  Nearby they have camping grounds for those considering spending more than a day. 

Jack Rabbit Bicycle Trails locationJack Rabbit Bicycle Trails locationJack Rabbit Bicycle Trails location

Jackrabbit Bicycle Trails, Hayesville, North CarolinaJackrabbit Bicycle Trails, Hayesville, North CarolinaTrail map for Jack Rabbit Bicycle Trails This trail map is at the entrance to the trails which all start from a common location.  The "You are here" is clearly marked to help orient yourself before setting off on a trail.  For those that are hiking, there are many signs that help identify different types of vegetation providing for a learning experience if you're inclined.


Interested in Pet Photography Session?

If you would like to discuss or book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call/text Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco/Polk counties in Florida).  We have flexible rates and packages to fit most everyone’s budget as we believe that having wonderful photographs of your pet is important to so many people.

Blogging with Pet Photographers

This is a personal project that I try to participate in each week (as much as possible).  This post is part of a 'blog circle' which is with several other Professional Pet Photographers around the world.  Each week a different theme is provided to the group and we, as pet photographers, interpret the theme in our own way.  Follow the link provided at the end of each of my blogs to the next pet photographer's blog - and when you arrive back at my blog - you've completed the entire circle of blogs for this theme.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to Courtney of CM Bryson Photography loves spending Georgia summer mornings kayaking with her dogs. In this blog post she's sharing 3 Must Haves for Kayaking with Dogs.




I absolutely LOVE that first view of the lake, and seeing your pups enjoying life in the water!
I love North Carolina but I've never been to Fontana. What an amazing place and it looks like your dogs loved it! (btw...your pictures are very pretty. I don't know what you are talking about).

As for Florida, my mom lived in West Palm in the last years of her life and thoroughly enjoyed feeding the local alligators whole chickens she bought especially for them. She thought she could tame even the wildest of beasts. They never betrayed her, but once she found out it was illegal and she stopped feeding them, they moved along and she was heart broken. I don't think alligators have any sense of loyalty!
Oh my ALLIGATORS! Makes waterways no fun in Florida! I'm glad you found lovely hiking and some gator free swimming holes to visit on your trip!
Tracy Allard(non-registered)
Abby's view is STUNNING! What a location, I'm so happy for the pups that they too got a vacation along with you!
Angela Schneider(non-registered)
Alligators! Well, shoot ... I'm not sure which one I'd rather stare down. A gator or a grizzly bear.
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