Overnighting in the High Country on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

There’s not much more beautiful than the high country along the Blue Ridge Parkway in June. The days are long. The forest has completed its greening and the heath bushes are in bloom. If you catch the sights in the evening or very early morning you can even avoid the crowds. I’ve been on the shelf for a few weeks with an ankle injury while hiking, and was...

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Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway

Located at milepost 316.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls moves in several distinct steps, beginning in a twin set of upper falls, passing through a small twisty gorge, and culminating in a high-volume 45-foot plunge. The Linville River flows from its headwaters high on the steep slopes of Grandfather Mountain and cascades through these falls as it begins a...

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The Cradle of Forestry in America historic site will begin the 2019 season on April 6

The Cradle of Forestry’s living history demonstrators and crafters will bring the Pink Beds community along the Cradle’s Biltmore Campus Trail to life by re-creating an early 1900’s community busy at work and play. Guests can visit the cozy King House to smell the wonderful aromas of open-hearth cooking, help with laundry without the modern...

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Popular trailhead access to Mount Mitchell to close temporarily for major overhaul

The love for North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, its trails, rivers, campgrounds and other amenities, shows no sign of slowing down. It’s not just Bent Creek Experimental Forest’s parking lots in Asheville that are full to overflowing on the weekends, and even weekday afternoons. The dilemma is spread across the forest’s range through Western North Carolina. A...

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December Walking on the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

The Blue Ridge Parkway frequently closes for snow and ice in late Fall and Winter. While it’s disappointing you can’t traverse the roadway by vehicle, the fun news is that you can still access your favorite overlooks on foot, without any traffic. It is so peaceful. Most access roads to the Parkway are maintained during snow season, so you can get to the...

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Halloween at Max Patch – A Photo Essay

Few places in the Southern Appalachians are more scenic than Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. Even more so when the magic of Fall coloring surrounds the mountaintop. You can see my complete trail report for Max Patch and Buckeye Ridge, and learn about an unexpected adventure I had a few years ago on my first...

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WNC experts discuss sustainability of outdoor recreation

Head into Pisgah National Forest on any day of the week, and you’ll find activity out on the trails. From hikers standing atop Max Patch bald, enjoying stunning views of Mount Mitchell, to mountain bikers riding beside white pine and mountain laurel on the Foster Creek Trail, outdoors enthusiasts take advantage of Pisgah as just one of Western North Carolina’s hot spots...

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May Day Flowering at Pisgah National Forest – A Photo Essay

What better way to spend May Day than wildflower hunting on Pisgah National Forest? We always think of the national park in the Smokies as being the go-to destination for Spring wildflowers in Western North Carolina. However, Pisgah National Forest is right up there. As you will see from the gallery below, there is quite the wide variety. I picked two destinations in the...

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Pisgah National Forest could use a lot of help on Pisgah Pride Day

May 5, 2018 is the third annual Pisgah Pride Day at the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. Hosted by the nonprofit Pisgah Conservancy, the work day will convene at the Pisgah Ranger Station, where volunteers will be dispatched to perform trail work, remove invasive species, pick up trash, plant a rain garden near the fish hatchery to help...

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The cloud forest in our backyard

On some mornings, the mountains across our valley radiate in the dawn light, but frequently they are coyly veiled by clouds. These are the highest peaks in the East — ancient mountains, among the oldest on the continent — and a tattered shawl of dark forest drapes over the ridge and its craggy shoulders. This high-elevation dark green forest is one of Western North...

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Public comment sought on trail improvement plan for Pisgah National Forest

Popular trails in the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, North Carolina are included in a trail improvement plan for the Pisgah National Forest. “Each year, several million visitors come to experience the natural beauty and rich history of the Pisgah,” said Dave Casey, the head ranger for the Pisgah district of the...

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Cradle of Forestry 2018 Season Kicks Off April 7

The Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site will begin the 2018 season on April 7 with a living history event, “Old Time Plowing and Folkways.” David and Diane Burnette from Haywood County will demonstrate how their Percheron draft horses work the land the old way. Weather permitting, they will plow the Cradle’s vegetable garden along the Biltmore...

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Pisgah Ranger District seeks public input on proposed recreation project

The Pisgah National Forest will be holding an open house on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 from 5-7 p.m. at the Pisgah Ranger Station to discuss a proposed project to increase the sustainability of recreation. “The project is not intended to address all possible improvements on the Pisgah Ranger District, but includes timely projects that consider the social, ecological,...

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Long process of revising plans for NC national forests nears crucial point

In November 2012, the U.S. Forest Service began work on a comprehensive revision of the Land Management Plan for North Carolina’s Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. It reasonably might have been expected to end in 2016. Instead, the politically complicated process remains underway with some crucial stages just ahead. If the prospect of assisting a large federal...

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‘Friends’ groups provide vital support for public lands

We all need friends, and public lands in Western North Carolina increasingly receive care in the form of “Friends” nonprofit groups. In an era of shrinking federal budgets for parks and forests, these organizations are stepping up to preserve and maintain public spaces. “Friends groups used to be the margin of excellence; now they’re the margin of survival,” Sally...

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Melting ice on WNC lakes, streams pose serious hazards as visitors fall through surface

The curvy, two-lane Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, aka U.S. 276, which runs along the Davidson River and through the heart of Pisgah Ranger District, looked more like a July 4 traffic jam over the weekend than a cold and lonely winter day. The lure during the chilly temperatures? The rarely seen frozen Looking Glass Falls, a 60-foot-high stunner that can be easily...

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Jewels of Appalachia

The forests of western North Carolina have long been recognized for providing exceptional quality of life, offering world-class outdoor experiences and supporting vibrant local economies. They are even acknowledged as the birthplace of America’s forest management: When George Vanderbilt sought refuge from city life in the late 1800s, he chose a picturesque valley in...

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Should people pay to play in Pisgah National Forest?

Patrick Scott walks 380 miles for work. It’s not every day, but that’s how many miles curve, dip and roll through the Pisgah National Forest. If laid end to end, those trails would stretch from Asheville, NC to Montgomery, Alabama, and Scott, the forest’s Pisgah District trail program manager, must oversee them all. The undertaking is daunting not just for the miles, but...

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U.S. Forest Service increases leash-law enforcement in NC

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service remind the public that a dog leash law is in effect in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, including roads and trails. Forest Service personnel have stepped up enforcement recently. Due to the area’s high popularity and intensive recreational use, unleashed dogs have become a safety issue, officials said in a news...

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The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests: An Economic Powerhouse for Western North Carolina

  If you’re one of the 4.6 million people who visit the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests each year, you already know how incredible this corner of the Southern Appalachians is. Perhaps you’ve paddled down the Tuckasegee River, climbed at Looking Glass, or hiked in Linville Gorge. No matter your preferred form of adventure, you know the Nantahala-Pisgah...

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Marci Spencer – Author and Historian

Healer of bodies and forests   A retired nurse practitioner, Marci Spencer is the author of Clingmans Dome: Highest Mountain in the Great Smokies, Pisgah National Forest: A History, and the recently released Nantahala National Forest: A History all published by The History Press. Her children’s book, Potluck, Message Delivered: The Great Smoky Mountains Are...

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Nantahala, Pisgah forest planning focuses on recreation

The Access Fund is one of many members of the two collaborative groups – the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership and the Stakeholders Forum – working on recommendations for the Nantahala and Pisgah Plan Revision. The years-long project holds the potential to change the way millions of people use the two giant forests that spread across the mountains of Western North...

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Your 1 Million Acres: The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams. You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your staff—the U.S. Forest Service—to manage the property. They...

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The Future of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Belongs to You

You are the owner of a 1.1-million acre mountain estate. Your property includes cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, and the highest mountains in the East. You can go anywhere you like on your property. You can hike hundreds of miles of trails and paddle, fish, and swim in its pristine streams. You share ownership equally with every other American, and you pay your...

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Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests Designated as Treasured Landscape by National Forest Foundation

Since the establishment of eastern National Forests at the beginning of the 20th century, the forests of western North Carolina have been recognized and valued for their importance to scenic outdoor experiences and directly connected to the health of the region. The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in particular cover a remarkable and unique landscape, spanning the...

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Manhunt for armed, dangerous suspect shuts down part of Pisgah National Forest

Law enforcement shut down access to part of Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC on July 23, 2017 during a manhunt for a dangerous suspect. Phillip Michael Stroupe II, 38, of Weaverville, NC is considered armed and dangerous by authorities. He has outstanding warrants in Buncombe County for kidnapping and has pending charges in Yancey County, according to the...

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Introducing Femelschlag

Visitors to the Cradle of Forestry (located near Brevard, NC in Pisgah National Forest) learn about the Biltmore Forest School – the first school of forestry in North America. It was started in 1898 by Carl Schenck. A native of Germany, Schenck brought German forestry concepts to the United States. It is fitting that today in Pisgah National Forest, researchers are...

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The Land Between Two Wildernesses – A Photo Essay

I like to do most of my summertime hiking in the high country to avoid the heat, and the bugs. It’s like getting extra, added months of spring. So when the first week of summer rolled around, I thought of that section of Pisgah National Forest that lies between Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses, surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hwy 215, and Black...

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Just Another Day at Stunning Roan Highlands – A Photo Essay

Ho. Hum. Just another day at Roan Highlands. Now, obviously I’m being facetious. Roan Highlands is probably my favorite place to go in all of Western North Carolina, especially in mid-June when it is catawba rhododendron and flame azalea time. It’s exciting to hike on the iconic Appalachian Trail, the views of Tennessee and North Carolina on either side of...

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U.S. Forest Service to Hold Open Houses on Pisgah & Nantahala Forest Plan Revision

The U.S. Forest Service will hold open houses across the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests from late June to early August, 2017 to provide the public with opportunities to talk with Forest Service staff about local issues, district projects, and the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan revision. “Public attendance at meetings like these helps us to understand your...

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Scanning the Horizon from the Black Balsam High Country – A Photo Essay

When looking for some WNC high country scenery and perhaps refreshing cool air on a warm day, one of the first destinations I think of is the Black Balsam area at milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are half a dozen mountains here that stand above 6,000 feet, with encompassing 360° views from their treeless summits. This land that lies between the Shining...

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The Green, Green, Greening of Spring – A Photo Essay

Pisgah National Forest comes alive in early May. It seems as though the greening happens almost overnight. Daniel Ridge Loop Trail is an amazing place to experience the changing of the forest from its sleepy, drab brown hues to the vibrant verdant that fills the senses. The creek along the pathway is the most picturesque in Pisgah Ranger District in my opinion, and the...

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