Buckspring Lodge: A Summer Retreat for Sheep

In addition to Biltmore House, George Vanderbilt had another home on the estate’s original 125,000 acres: Buckspring Lodge.

A rustic, Adirondack-style retreat on the slopes of Mt. Pisgah, located about 20 miles from Biltmore House, Buckspring Lodge was a world away from the elegantly landscaped terrain surrounding America’s Largest Home®.

George and Edith Vanderbilt at buckspring Lodge
George and Edith Vanderbilt sitting on the front steps of Buckspring Lodge, their rustic retreat on Mt. Pisgah

An Elevated View

It was fashionable at that time for wealthy families to create summer retreats in the mountains or by the seashore, often spending the entire season away from their main residence.

George Vanderbilt had already acquired a cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine, which he enlarged and renamed Pointe d’Acadie, but he spent less time there after making Biltmore his permanent home, choosing instead to enjoy the cool heights and splendid views of the Blue Ridge Mountains

A flock of sheep being tended near Buckspring Lodge with Mount Pisgah in the background.
A flock of sheep being tended near Buckspring Lodge with Mount Pisgah in the background.

Family, Friends & Biltmore Sheep

In addition to the main Buckspring Lodge building, which was designed by Biltmore architect Richard Morris Hunt and completed under the direction of his son Richard Howland Hunt, there was separate kitchen structure, a smaller guest cottage, and a stable that would eventually become a garage. Edith Vanderbilt added a garden and a tennis court to the site, and guests could hike and hunt to their hearts’ content. 

Family and friends weren’t the only visitors, however—a flock of Biltmore sheep spent time there, as well, providing effective “grounds maintenance” in return for their room and board. The sheep kept the grass short and added a pleasant pastoral note to the ambience of the Vanderbilt’s private mountain retreat. 

Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village
Today, our Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Hill Village is your headquarters for estate exploration.

New Life for an Old Cabin

After George Vanderbilt‘s death in 1914, Edith Vanderbilt sold most of the estate’s Pisgah Forest land to the federal government to become a national forest. Her grandson George Cecil inherited the property, eventually selling it to allow unobstructed construction of the Mount Pisgah section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A ranger’s cabin, constructed in 1912 of decades-old logs salvaged from early settler’s cabins on Vanderbilt’s Pisgah Forest tract, was removed from the site at that time and rebuilt in Asheville as a family home.

In 2015, this historic cabin and some of its furnishings were donated to Biltmore. Now restored in Antler Hill Village, the cabin serves as the headquarters for our Outdoor Adventure Center and Land Rover Experience.

Top 5 Biltmore Family Favorites for Summer 2021

Our top 5 Biltmore family favorite activities for summer are sure to please the entire clan, from grandparents to grandchildren!

Winkie Bar Sundae in a waffle bowl
Try all the ice cream treats, including this delicious Winkie Bar Sundae served in a waffle bowl

5. Favorite Flavors: Ice Cream for Everyone

Did you know that the vanilla ice cream served on the estate is based on a delicious original Biltmore Dairy recipe? Now at Biltmore Dairy Bar® near Biltmore House and the Creamery in Antler Hill Village, you and your family can enjoy the same rich flavor enjoy by estate guests more than a century ago.

Tip: Get sandwiches and ice cream to go from the Creamery and have a picnic on the nearby Village Green. Celebrate summer with Biltmore wine for the grownups and Biltmore sparkling grape juice for the younger set.

Family biking at Biltmore
Bring the whole family along on your next biking adventure at Biltmore

4. Favorite Activity: Biking for All Ages

Ready to explore our wide-open spaces? Visit the Outdoor Adventure Center or Bike Barn in Antler Hill Village and rent mountain bikes for rugged trails or comfort cruisers for paved paths. Tandem rentals also available so the younger members of the family can join the fun.

Tip: Consider our Farm Trail Guided Bike Ride and other new outdoor activities for more exciting ways to explore the estate.

Biltmore Gardens Railway in Antler Hill Village at Biltmore
Marvel at the wonders of miniature trains during Biltmore Gardens Railway!

3. Rediscover a Family Favorite: Biltmore Gardens Railway

One of the absolute must-see elements of the estate this summer is Biltmore Gardens Railway, featuring beautiful garden-scale botanical model train displays. This charming exhibition featuring estate-related landmarks—each handcrafted in meticulous detail from all-natural materials—returns to the Conservatory.

Tip: Experience Biltmore Gardens Railway now through September 26, 2021.

Child explores Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village
The new Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village is fun for all ages!

2. New Family Favorite: Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

Crafted and installed in Antler Hill Village, this unique-to-Biltmore, large-scale outdoor sculpture entitled Free as a Bird is a wondrous combination of Patrick Dougherty’s carpentry skills and love of nature.

Over the last three decades, this internationally-acclaimed artist has built over 300 of these works, which have captivated the hearts and imaginations of viewers worldwide. Enjoy Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty now through September 30, 2021.

Tip: Explore Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty during the day or at night, when the sculpture is lit to enhance your experience.

Family activities for spring at Biltmore
Explore our glorious gardens and grounds during Biltmore Blooms this spring

1. All-Time Family Favorite: Our 8,000-Acre Backyard!

With 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain backyard, you’ll never run out of places to explore at Biltmore! Enjoy more than 20 miles of hiking trails along the French Broad River, through lush green forests, or in the open meadows of the estate.

Tip: Visit the Bike Barn or Outdoor Adventure Center for a detailed trail map and orientation to the trails.

Enhance your Biltmore visit with an overnight stay

In addition to our top 5 family-favorite activities, make the most of summer vacations and long holiday weekends at Biltmore by adding overnight accommodations at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate, or our two private historic Cottages on Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Trails: 22 Miles to Explore

Whether you’re at Biltmore for the day or you’re a Biltmore Annual Passholder, exploring Biltmore’s 22 miles of trails is an excellent way to get some outdoor exercise. From leisurely strolls to intense workouts, our trails offer a variety of routes that can be tailored to your skill level with spectacular views in every season.

Walk in our manicured gardens on paved paths in Biltmore's Italian and Shrub Gardens
Enjoy the manicured landscape along paved paths in our historic gardens.

Easy Biltmore Trails

Historic Gardens (walking)

Our historic gardens paths incorporate the Italian Garden (gravel), Shrub Garden (paved), Walled Garden (paved), and Spring Garden (mulch). Routes stretch approximately 1-2 miles depending on which paths you choose. Enjoy seasonal blooms with benches nearby to take a break and soak it all in.

Azalea Garden (walking)

This mostly paved walking path can be accessed from either the Spring Garden or Walled Garden. It is a great opportunity to go even deeper into Biltmore’s historic gardens, offering benches along the way, and leads to Bass Pond Waterfall and Boat House. Take in spectacular views across the Bass Pond at approximately 1 mile.

View of the west side of Biltmore House from the Lagoon
The Lagoon Trail offers a striking view of the west side of Biltmore House.

Moderate Biltmore Trails

Lagoon Trail (walking, running, biking)

This mostly flat, paved trail leads to the Lagoon, which offers a striking view of the west side of Biltmore House (a popular picnic spot). Start and end at Antler Hill Village for a pleasant 3-mile trip. The French Broad River and estate farmland provide pleasant scenery as you explore the path. 

Farm Trail (walking, running, biking)

This flat gravel and dirt road runs along the perimeter of Biltmore’s grounds and the French Broad River. Totaling 6 miles, this trail leads to the Arbor Trace Trail at one end and the Lagoon Trail at the other.

Westover Trails (hiking, trail running, biking)

Access this set of Biltmore trails from the Bike Barn or The Inn on Biltmore Estate® to see Biltmore’s beautiful woodlands. The green (1.7 miles) and blue routes (2.8 miles) immerse you in nature while offering wide trails for a comfortable experience with a few challenging hills.

On Biltmore's Westover trails, a bridge in the woods
The Westover Trails provide access to some of the estate’s more secluded woodlands.

Challenging Biltmore Trails

Westover Trails (hiking, trail running, biking)

The black route totals 3.5 miles round-trip inside Biltmore’s beautiful woodland. The narrow trail offers steep hills and is great for a technical single-track bike ride or an authentic hiking experience.

Arbor Trace Trail (hiking, trail running, biking)

This trail can only be accessed by first following the Farm Trail. The 3.5 mile round-trip route travels in and out of the woods providing scenic views of the estate’s agriculture and the historic Market Gardener’s Cottage on Biltmore Estate™. The last stretch of the trail (black) is quite narrow and an optional loop.

Deer Park Trail (walking, running, biking)

This challenging uphill trek is quite popular due to the stunning view of Biltmore House it offers. To extend the challenge, start at Antler Hill Village and take the Farm Trail to the Lagoon Trail which leads to the Deer Park Trail. 

Be sure to check out our trail map before you embark. All Biltmore trails are pet-friendly, well-maintained, and accessible only to Passholders, lodging guests, and ticketed guests. If you’re looking for a more curated experience, consider one of our guided hiking or biking offerings. See you on the trails!