Lake Powhatan is a small lake with a sandy beach within Bent Creek Experimental Forest. The lake is a particularly great spot for the month of March because the lake and accompanying overnight camping area is closed until April 1. That means you and your doggies have the run of the place (including the beach) since cars, campers, and swimmers aren't around. You also don't have to pay any fee, which is required after the lake opens.
The lake and the surrounding roads and trails make for a great outing. You can walk, jog, or bike ride on the paved roads (it's moderately hilly but not too bad), or you can hike on the many trails near the lake and in Bent Creek. Your dog will love splashing around on the bank or running in the sand. During the off-season, many people let their dogs run free, although when the lake is open, dogs must be leashed.
The lake is easily accessible via the entrance to Bent Creek, which is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the North Carolina Arboretum exit, Route 191 (Brevard Road towards Asheville). Follow the signs to Bent Creek/Lake Powhatan. Go past the Hard Times Trailhead on the left (which itself is a great spot to pick up numerous trails). The road then forks and the entrance to Lake Powhatan is on the left. You can park outside the gate to the right and walk up the hill. Follow the signs for swimming and fishing to get to the lake. Walking around the empty campground, which is largely shaded, is also a nice stroll. During the off-season, the gates are closed to vehicles but foot traffic is allowed.
Visit the POOCH PATHS page for additional information and directions from I-26.