What to do in Your Free Time During Montreat Youth Conference

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While Montreat Youth Conference offers many structured events and recreation opportunities, you will occasionally find yourself with a moment of free time and will be eager to find a way to spend it. (In particular, Wednesday afternoon does not include any structured activities, giving groups a chance to make a trip into town or participate in local mission opportunities.) These moments provide you with the perfect opportunity to explore Montreat’s amenities and focus on building stronger relationships within your group. Below we have collected some of our favorite ways to spend this time together. 

Make a Visit to Moore Center

Centrally located in the middle of Montreat’s campus, Moore Center (located at 303 Lookout Road Montreat, NC 28757) is a great place to meet up with friends, look for souvenirs, or grab a bite to eat. Here are a few of the places that can be found in this retail center: 

The Montreat Store

The Montreat Store is a mix of boutique, gift shop, and general store. From snacks to t-shirts to toiletries to books to pottery, the Montreat Store has it all! Also available at the store are maps of Montreat and the surrounding trails, along with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Check it out on the second floor of the Moore Center. 

The Huckleberry

Known to many Montreat visitors as “The Huck”, this recently renovated café is located on the third floor of Moore Center and serves a variety of breakfast and lunch options in addition to coffee and ice cream. With great views of the Lake Susan dam both inside the café or from a rocking chair on the porch, The Huckleberry is a common hang out spot for youth and leaders alike. 

Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade shop that supports artisans around the world. It’s located on the third floor of the Moore Center. Learn more about Ten Thousand Villages in Montreat and find their store hours on their website

Explore the Montreat Wilderness

Montreat is committed to providing an enriching outdoor experience for all. The Montreat Wilderness contains roughly 2,500 acres of pristine wilderness for our guests to explore. Between peaceful green spaces, guided hikes, and more, there’s something of interest for all who visit. Here are a few activities of particular note: 

The Nature Center

Home of our summer Wilderness Rangers, the Nature Center is a great place to learn about the various flora and fauna that you may come across in Montreat. Our Rangers are happy to give recommendations on hikes in the valley or can introduce you to one of the snakes in our reptile exhibit. During the summer, staff will also lead public hikes and nature skills demonstrations out of the Nature Center. 

Hiking & Trails

There are more than 20 trails in Montreat which stretch over 40 miles and offer a variety of hikes for all skill levels. During the summer, trails can become busy and trailhead parking can be limited. We recommend downloading a trail map and reading over our Wilderness Rules & Regulations before you head out. All hiking is at-your-own-risk. 

Rock Hopping

This iconic Montreat activity involves dipping your toes in the cool water of Flat Creek, a small, yet lively stream that runs through our campus. Youth will often bring sandals or old tennis shoes so that they can wade or “hop” from rock to rock between Moore Center and Robert Lake Park. Please refrain from accessing Flat Creek at other locations. 

Recreation Areas

Montreat Conference Center offers access to a number of parks and recreation centers on its campus. The following amenities are included with your conference registration fee – just show your wristband! 

Bill Wilde Youth Center & Patricia Cornwell Tennis Courts

The Bill Wilde Youth Center, located by Robert Lake Park, and affectionately referred to as “the B-Dub”, houses board games, pool tables, ping pong. It is also the place to make reservations for the tennis courts. Public hours may vary depending on facility use by other programs. Please reference This Summer in Montreat for hours and availability. 

Swimming Pool

The Montreat Pool is located behind Dunn Pavilion on Texas Road. Public hours may vary depending on facility use by other programs. Please reference This Summer in Montreat for hours and availability. You can also call 828.357.5031 beginning in June for additional information. 

Boating on Lake Susan

Montreat offers paddle boating and canoeing on Lake Susan. Just look for a lifeguard near the docks at Left Bank, and they will get you on the water in no time! 

Things to do Outside the Gate

In addition to the activities available on Montreat Conference Center’s campus, Western North Carolina has many other interesting places, businesses, and restaurants to explore.  

Black Mountain

If you are looking to make a trip to nearby Black Mountain, NC, a directory of businesses and activities can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website. With a bustling, easily walkable downtown, youth groups love exploring the various shops and eateries found in this charming city.


Roughly 30 minutes away from Montreat via I-40, Asheville, NC is a unique metropolitan center located in the heart of the mountains. You can find information about dining options, art galleries, museums, shopping, parks, and more at exploreasheville.com or on the Chamber of Commerce website

Outdoor Activities

Western North Carolina is particularly known for its outdoor attractions. Close to Montreat you can access the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest, or make a visit to The North Carolina Arboretum

Explore Montreat and Have Fun!

No matter how you decide to spend your free time during the conference, we know that you will come away with a greater appreciation for God’s creation and the friendships that are formed as you explore together. For more specific information about the activities listed here, or to learn about special summer events, please check out This Summer in Montreat (available beginning in May each year) and This Week in Montreat (published weekly in June and July).