Conserving Carolina’s Fall Hiking Series Begins September 22, 2017

Join Conserving Carolina, formerly the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), for five Friday hikes offered to the public, free of charge, this fall.

Conserving Carolina invites the community to enjoy the work that many conservation organizations have done for the preservation of areas of natural resources and take in the beauty of autumn.

Starting September 22, the first trek will head to Caesar’s Head State Park, part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, for an approximately 6.7-mile, easy, out and back hike. This trail will take hikers through a hardwood forest to a suspension bridge over Matthews Creek and at the precipice of Raven Cliff Falls. After the hike, participants are invited to visit the overlook at Caesar’s Head State Park, an official Hawk Watch site, to search the skies for migrating raptors. Each year, thousands of raptors, especially Broad-winged Hawks, migrate over this site along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, using thermal currents formed by sun on the rock, to gain altitude and glide for miles over the Piedmont, expending very little energy.

South Carolina hikers interested in attending on September 22nd are asked to meet at the Spinx in Gowensville, SC (at the intersection of Hwy 14 and Hwy 11) at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 45-minute drive to the Raven Cliff Falls parking area at Caesar’s Head State Park. North Carolina hikers plan to be at the Raven Cliff Falls parking area by 9:30 a.m. Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.
  
On October 6, the hike will take place at Buffalo Creek Park in Hickory Nut Gorge. The trail at Buffalo Creek Park is on land owned by the Town of Lake Lure and protected by Conserving Carolina. It was completed in 2014 and is the first phase of a trail system that will offer over 13-miles of multi-use trails in Hickory Nut Gorge. This is a 4.7-mile, moderate, loop hike that ascends Weed Patch Mountain with a gain of 500 feet in elevation. It then passes through a large boulder field offering views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Lure, then descends the mountain back to the trailhead.

 

What would you expect to find in Hickory Nut Gorge?

 

South Carolina hikers interested in attending the October 6th hike are asked to meet in the parking area west of Home Trust Bank, 651 W Mills St, Columbus, NC 28722 at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 35-minute drive to Buffalo Creek Park parking area. North Carolina hikers meet the group at the entrance to Buffalo Creek Park by 9:30 a.m.

On October 20, the 3.8-mile, moderate, out and back hike will take place along a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail to the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge, a 1900’s summer estate, offering a beautiful overlook view.

South Carolina hikers interested in attending the October 20th hike are asked to meet in the parking area west of Home Trust Bank, 651 W Mills St, Columbus, NC 28722 at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1 hour drive to the parking area off Ox Creek Road at Bull Gap. North Carolina hikers join the group at the trailhead by 9:30 a.m.

On November 3, hikers head to Pisgah National Forest for a 6-mile, moderate, out and back hike starting from the former site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring hunting lodge near Mt. Pisgah. The hike crosses the summit of Little Bald Mountain before dropping down to Pilot Rock, offering beautiful mountain views.

 

Expect stunning vistas of the Cradle of Forestry and beyond from Pilot Rock.

 

South Carolina hikers interested in attending the November 3rd hike are asked to meet in the parking area west of Home Trust Bank, 651 W Mills St, Columbus, NC 28722 at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 1 hour drive to the parking area near the former site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring hunting lodge near Mt. Pisgah. North Carolina hikers join the group at the Buck Spring Gap Overlook, mile 407.7 on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 9:30 a.m. You may have to wait a bit for the South Carolina participants to arrive.

Finally, on November 17, the group will head to Pinnacle Mountain (Long Ridge) in Table Rock State Park. Pinnacle Mountain is the tallest mountain contained entirely within the state of South Carolina (SC’s highest point, Sassafras Mountain, is partially in North Carolina). The 5.5-mile, moderate hike will traverse areas affected by fires in the fall of 2016 and lead hikers to a granitic bald where, in the late 1990s, more than 600 prehistoric petroglyphs were discovered. The petroglyphs, believed to be created by the Hopewell culture, pre-date the Cherokees and are believed to be between 1,500 and 3,500 years old.

South Carolina hikers interested in attending the November 17th hike are asked to meet at the Spinx in Gowensville, SC (at the intersection of Hwy 14 and Hwy 11) at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately 40-minute drive to the parking area at Sliding Rock road. North Carolina hikers meet at the trailhead in Table Rock State Park by 9:30 a.m. Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience.  Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water. Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.
 
In case of inclement weather, please contact the Southeast (Polk County) office by 8:15 on the day of the hike and/or the Conserving Carolina Facebook page to see if the hike will take place.

If you are interested in attending Conserving Carolina’s fall hikes and would like more information, please call the Southeast (Polk County) office at 828-859-5060 or e-mail Pam Torlina at, pam@conservingcarolina.org. You can also find information on Conserving Carolina’s website, www.conservingcarolina.org, and on Conserving Carolina’s Facebook page.

Conserving Carolina is dedicated to protecting and stewarding land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life and to fostering appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

 

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