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Jump right in: Lake Logan reflects on rich history, ponders next step

Located just outside of Canton, the Lake Logan Retreat Center has been a place of respite and recreation for many years. File photo Located just outside of Canton, the Lake Logan Retreat Center has been a place of respite and recreation for many years. File photo

Nearly seven years ago, Laura Elliot first stepped foot on the bucolic grounds of the Lake Logan Retreat Center, cradled by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was June 2017 and the event onsite was the inaugural Cold Mountain Music Festival. 

“Quite simply, I absolutely fell in love with the sheer beauty and tranquility of Lake Logan and knew somehow this was where I was meant to be,” Elliot said. “[And] this has been our family’s summer vacation spot and Sunday afternoon retreat since that time.”

Earlier this year, Elliot accepted the position of executive director at Lake Logan, with the retreat center underneath the banner of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina. Originally from Rocky Mount, Elliot lived out west for a period, working with children with severe learning differences in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and as a whitewater river guide in Moab, Utah, and Taos, New Mexico.

“[Lake Logan] is a culmination of my outdoor education and recreation background, my nonprofit leadership experience and my lifelong relationship with the Episcopal Church,” Elliot said.

As it stands, the retreat center is a 300-acre property buffering the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah National Forest. This landscape also includes Lake Logan, a mile-long body of water replenished by the West Fork of the Pigeon River.

“Lake Logan truly is a gem of the Smoky Mountains,” Elliot said. “What we have to offer Haywood County and Western North Carolina is profound and I believe we’re just starting to tap the true potential of this incredible resource.”

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The lake was initially constructed as a reservoir for the Champion Fibre Company in 1932 as a way for the vastly expanding business to have a large supply of water readily available for the paper mill in nearby Canton.

“My brother was a forester for the Canton mill for nearly 11 years,” Elliot said. “He’s taught me a lot about the ecology and histories of Haywood County, the Pigeon River, Lake Logan and its role within the Cradle of Forestry — it’s a fascinating story and one that is certainly evolving as we speak.”

The mill closed in 2023, but the lake and its endless recreational opportunities remains. As does its bountiful resources amid a stunning backdrop of natural beauty.

“Lake Logan has a rich natural history that spans millions of years as part of the oldest mountain chain and one of the most diverse forest ecosystems in the world,” Elliot said. “Recognizing the depth of our environmental and cultural history, we want to provide interpretive and engaging experiences for lifelong learners of every age.”

In terms of the retreat center itself, it houses numerous cabins, bunkhouses and primitive campsites, all with direct access to the lake and its amenities, including a boathouse.

out lead LauraElliot

Laura Elliot. File photo

“I have a very strong connection to this sacred space,” Elliot said. “And an even stronger calling to share and preserve Lake Logan’s important past while leading it toward a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Beyond what’s available on the lake — swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, paddleboarding — there’s also fishing allowed in the river and hiking trails through the Cold Mountain games land and Shining Rock Wilderness.

To access these outdoor amenities, there’s a variety of day passes and an annual membership that the general public can purchase online (lakelogan.org). The property can also be rented for events.

“We’re open to the public in many exciting ways,” Elliot said. “‘Stewardship of God’s creation’ is a core value at Lake Logan and, to that end, I’m really excited about the current development of our Outdoor School. This program is just taking off and already a big hit with school groups from across the Southeast.”

A large part of the Lake Logan experience, Camp Henry will soon kick off its summer season with its family and bilingual camps. There’s also a bevy of recreational/backcountry excursions held throughout the year at the Outdoor School.

“The Diocese of WNC truly believes in the power of summer camp and boasts a strong scholarship program to ensure no kid ever has to miss out on these incredibly fun and formative experiences,” Elliot said. “And now we have the Outdoor School, which offers learning opportunities in one of the most dynamic outdoor learning labs in the country.”

With the annual Cold Mountain Music Festival right around the corner (June 1), Lake Logan is once again gearing up for a jam-packed summer of fun, family, adventure and authenticity, something that’s resided at the property since its inception.

“The sky’s the limit,” Elliot said of the property’s potential. “If someone has a great idea, I’d love for them to come visit and let’s figure out how to make it happen — together.”

For Elliot and the staff at Lake Logan, it’s business as usual in this cultural and ecological touchstone for Haywood County and greater Western North Carolina — memories preserved, memories created.


“There’s no greater reward than hearing stories from folks who are just coming to Lake Logan for the first time or returning year after year,” Elliot said. “There’s a thread that connects each of those stories and it always begins and ends with the transformational power of retreat — in the woods and on the water — at Lake Logan.”

Want to go?

To learn more about all of the recreational and lodging opportunities, day/season visitation passes, upcoming events and a full schedule of activities at the Lake Logan Retreat Center, click on lakelogan.org, call 828.646.0095 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cold Mountain Music Festival

The annual Cold Mountain Music Festival will be held on Saturday, June 1, at the Lake Logan Retreat Center in Canton.

The lineup will feature Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Toubab Krewe, Darren Nicholson, Grizzly Goat and Townes Council. There will also be a special appearance by the J Creek Cloggers.

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Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters. File photo

CMMF will offer local food and drink vendors, family-friendly activities and more. Lodging is available onsite (cabins/camping), with the lake open throughout the event for recreational use.

The centerpiece of the almost 300-acre property is a mile-long lake surrounded by the Shining Rock Wilderness Area of Pisgah National Forest. 

For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to coldmountainmusic.org or call 828.646.0095.

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