Riverside Cemetery Hike

Riverside Cemetery in Fall

A stroll through Asheville history

Designed in 1885 in the park-like Victorian style, Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place of some of Asheville’s most prominent citizens, including Thomas Wolfe.  Set on 87 shady acres, Riverside is a walk through Asheville’s past on smooth, paved trails, past over a dozen family mausoleums and impressive statuary. Stroll through this serene landscape for traces of Asheville’s early days.

What To Expect

There’s no designated parking place in Riverside Cemetery, so you may want to pick up a map (to the left inside the gate) and find a place to pull over on the side of the road. All the paths here are paved.

One of the cemetery’s most famous graves is that of Asheville’s most famous author, Thomas Wolfe, whose grave can be found on a small hill to the left not far from the entry gate.

Heading toward the back of the cemetery, you’ll find some of the most impressive Victorian mausoleums. Toward the back of this section, you’ll find the cemetery’s Jewish section, where one of Asheville’s most prominent historic figures, Solomon Lipinsky is buried. If you continue to along the back edge of the cemetery, you’ll come to the grave of Zebulon Vance, governor of North Carolina during the Civil War.

Riverside CemeteryConsult the printed map to find the grave of William Sydney Porter, also known as O. Henry, who lived in Asheville for a time (although he was in New York at the time of his death). There are a number of prominent Asheville educators buried in Riverside Cemetery, including Issac Dickson, who was born a slave and was the first African-American appointed to the Asheville City School Board. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, the first woman elected to the North Carolina General Assembly is also buried here.

During World War I, there was an internment camp for German officers at Hot Springs, north of Asheville. When typhoid fever spread through the camp, 18 of the interred officers dies and they are buried here.

Before exiting the cemetery, take a stroll by the Veteran’s section in the southeast section of the cemetery. Right next to it is the anonymous pauper’s section.

Hike Details

Difficulty: Easy

Distance from Asheville: 1 mile; 5 minutes 

Length: 3.5 miles of paved roads inside the gates 

Region: Asheville (Montford neighborhood) 

Duration of Hike: Up to an hour

Elevation Gain: 107 feet

Pet-Friendly? Leashed dogs welcome (clean up required) 

Multiple Use? Bikes allowed

Blazes? No

Facilities & Parking: Parking along paved road

Natural Features: Shade trees, flowering trees

Directions

From downtown Asheville, take Montford Road. Turn left onto West Chestnut Street then make the first right onto Pearson Drive. Turn left onto Birch Street. The street will dead-end into the cemetery.

GPS Coordinates

N35.600780, W82.570824

Photos by Joshua Darty, Riverside Cemetery.