Riverside Cemetery Hike
Riverside Cemetery Hike Details
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
Facilities & Parking: Parking along paved road
Features: Wildflowers, Kid Friendly
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.
Consult 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.
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.
Photos by Joshua Darty, Riverside Cemetery.