Keeping the doorstep green: Canton likely to receive 448 acres for outdoor rec

  If all goes as planned, Canton, NC will soon have a 448-acre park for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor recreation activities just a mile from town limits. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy hopes to close on the property, known as the Chestnut Mountain Tract and currently owned by Canton Motorsports LLC, within the next couple months....

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Transylvania County Tourism announces $100,000 toward Ecusta Trail

At the Transylvania County, NC Tourism (TCT) Board of Directors’ annual retreat, a motion was passed to set aside $100,000 from the organization’s fund balance for the development of the Ecusta Trail. TCT previously pledged support of the rail to trail conversion back in June of 2015, emphasizing the benefit that the trail would have on the community. After nearly a...

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Biltmore Estate Grounds, Gardens and Conservatory – A Photo Essay

While a walk around the 250 rooms of Biltmore House will thrill you with art and craftmanship and history and architecture, your visit to Biltmore Estate isn’t done until you get outside and explore the gardens and Conservatory, and the 20 miles of hiking and biking trails available. Because my brother and I were there on gift passes, we weren’t able to visit...

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Snowy Balds at Roan Highlands – A Photo Essay

There was a snowstorm over Roan Mountain the last Friday in February, 2020. Seeing Roan Highlands covered in a blanket of snow is always a highlight of WNC winter. So on Sunday, March 1st I set out for this glorious destination high above the little town of Bakersville. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do in winter. This makes three in a row now. As...

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DuPont, Friends seek input on management of wildly popular forest

Horse safety and the need for trailer parking, overcrowded hiking trails, the desire for single-track mountain bike trails and more trail etiquette education at DuPont State Recreational Forest are just some of the issues swirling around the much loved, multi-use state forest, which is entering its 20th year. The 12,000-acre state forest in Henderson and Transylvania...

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Hiking Above the Clouds at World’s Edge – A Photo Essay

August 2005 saw the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (now Conserving Carolina) and The Nature Conservancy purchase a 1,568-acre tract of land south of Lake Lure known as “World’s Edge” for $16 million with the intention of transferring the land as the first to be added to the new Chimney Rock State Park. World’s Edge contains a mile-long set of steep...

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U.S. Forest Service releases draft Nantahala and Pisgah forest plan for public comment

Drafts of the Nantahala and Pisgah forest plan and environmental impact statement (EIS) are now available. A formal 90-day public review and comment period is scheduled to begin on February 14,2020. The proposed plan is built on significant public engagement and the best available science to guide forest management for the next 15 years. It recognizes the multiple uses...

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Catawba conservation purchase to become part of new trail system

  A 68-acre conservation purchase in Catawba County, North Caroina is expected to become part of the planned Wilderness Gateway State Trail, which is intended to meander thorugh Catawba and Burke counties and along the Rutherford-McDowell county line. The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina bought the property from landowners Becky and Wayne Welch. It is...

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Rocky Ridge and Stone Mountain Trails, DuPont State Forest

Tucked away in the northeastern corner of DuPont State Forest in Western North Carolina, Stone Mountain is the highest point in the state forest at 3,620 feet. Appropriately named for the exposed granite slab that traverses its summit, Stone Mountain offers a near 270° view of the surrounding terrain to winter hikers. Since the first time I went, nearly 12 years ago,...

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Environmental analysis completed and decision signed for Twelve Mile Project on Pisgah National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service has completed the environmental assessment process and made a final decision on the Twelve Mile Project on the Pisgah National Forest’s Appalachian Ranger District in Haywood County, North Carolina. Once implemented, the project will help maintain a healthy and diverse forest that supports wildlife, provides a sustainable output of timber,...

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Tarklin Branch Trail to Wintergreen Falls and Thomas Cemetery Trail, DuPont State Forest

Located in the Guion Farm region of DuPont State Forest, this hike will take you to one of the lesser known, but equally memorable, of the exciting DuPont waterfalls. You are surrounded by majestic pine forest nearly throughout, with a walk along Grassy Creek for good measure. Most of the way is excellent double track surface, but that means you should listen for the...

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RiverLink’s RAD Watershed Plan addresses Asheville’s most impaired waterway

Out of view of the paddleboards and kayaks that meander with the lazy flow of the French Broad River, an orange tube skims oil from a creek’s surface. The tube is a last line of defense preventing oil from flowing directly into the river. The creek is Town Branch, a waterway long believed to be the most polluted stream in Western North Carolina. “Many people still call...

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Wilderness Gateway State Trail to be 100 miles and connect Chimney Rock to South Mountains

Can there ever be too many hiking trails in Western North Carolina? State trail planners, conservation groups, local governments and outdoors enthusiasts tend to think not. At least that seems to be the case as another series of long-distance trails are now in the works by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. The Wilderness Gateway State Trail should be about 100...

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Mountain Bog Protected in Burke County, NC

  A 17-acre bog in Burke County is now protected for conservation following purchase by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. The Jonas Ridge property borders the Pisgah Loop Scenic Highway and was purchased from landowner Hazel Shell with funding from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Southern Appalachian mountain bogs are rare and contain...

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An October in Western North Carolina – A Photo Essay

Throughout the month of October, I traveled and hiked the high country of Western North Carolina seeking the seasonal change and corresponding forest color. One of the great things about the mountains is how you can follow the change as it lowers in elevation, starting with the highest peaks and ending in the lowest river valleys. My brother has been in the process of...

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Coyote Sightings Peak in October-November

Hearing or seeing more coyotes these days? You’re not alone, say biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. According to them, it is common for North Carolinians to report seeing and hearing coyotes more often in October and November. Fall is the time of year when young coyotes – those born in early spring – are leaving their parents’...

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North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park adds 900 acres for new recreation, camping, trailhead

Hanging Rock State Park encompasses 8,605 acres, according to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. Now, the state is tacking on another 900 acres. NCDPR celebrated the new addition to the state park in Stokes County. “This is truly a day for celebration,” said Secretary Susi H. Hamilton in a news release. “Future visitors to Hanging Rock State Park will...

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Armadillos roll into Western North Carolina

Flexible bands of skin on its back hold the hard pieces of its roly-poly shell together. Scales cover much of its body, interrupted by the shaggy, grey hair that covers its belly. Deserving a spot alongside the platypus as one of the world’s strangest mammals, the latest arrival to the Tar Heel State is doing its part to keep the Asheville area weird. Since May 17, the...

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Strong leaf season predicted for WNC

This autumn should yield vibrant fall colors in the mountains, according to Western Carolina University’s fall color forecaster Beverly Collins. Collins, a professor of biology, combines her knowledge of forest ecology with weather trend observations to assess the potential for a strong leaf color season. From spring to mid-summer the area saw unusually warm and wet...

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New Trail Opens in Brevard’s Bracken Mountain Preserve

  A new trail for hiking and mountain biking just opened in Brevard, NC’s Bracken Mountain Preserve. The approximately 1.5 mile trail, called the Pinnacle Trail, offers a steep climb with 500 feet of elevation gain and creates a new loop. It brings the trail system in Bracken Mountain Preserve to nearly nine miles. These trails create a direct connection...

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19-Mile Rail Trail Could Link Hendersonville and Brevard

North Carolina House Rep. Chuck McGrady, Conserving Carolina, and Friends of the Ecusta Trail are pleased to announce that Conserving Carolina was awarded a $6.4 million purchase grant for the rail corridor known as the TR Line or Proposed Ecusta Trail. “This is a very big next step for the Ecusta Trail”, said McGrady. “There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot...

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That Day Tropical Storm Barry Came to Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway – A Photo Essay

Cloudy and very windy. That’s what greeted me the morning of July 14, 2019 as I first stepped from my car at Pounding Mill Overlook (milepost 413). Those who know me also know that I’ve been picking up trash and otherwise maintaining this overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway for each of the last 10 years. As I walked around to survey the accumulated trash since...

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Pisgah View Ranch, west of Asheville, looks poised to become newest NC state park

State Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, introduced Senate Bill 535 in April, 2019 that authorizes the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to add Pisgah View State Park to the North Carolina State Parks System. It was passed unanimously by the Senate and referred to the House on June 24, where it is processing through appropriate committees. “It’s been in our...

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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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North Carolina orders Duke Energy to excavate all coal ash

The country’s largest electric company was ordered to excavate coal ash from all of its North Carolina power plant sites, slashing the risk of toxic chemicals leaking into water supplies but potentially adding billions of dollars to the costs consumers pay. Duke Energy Corp. must remove the residue left after decades of burning coal to produce electricity, North...

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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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New North Carolina state natural area achieves milestone

  A recent 1,500 acre land purchase by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and North Carolina State Parks marked acquisition of the first chunk of the new Bobs Creek State Natural Area in southeastern McDowell County, North Carolina. Over the course of several years, a conservation enthusiast purchased 6,000 acres in the area with the intention of...

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402 acres added to DuPont State Recreational Forest

DuPont State Recreational Forest continues to grow by leaps and bounds, with Conserving Carolina announcing an additional 402 acres added to the forest. The addition will help conserve key headwater streams along the Eastern Continental Divide and link the forest with more than 100,000 acres of existing conserved lands along the North Carolina-South Carolina border. In a...

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Guide to Hiking the Art Loeb Trail in One Weekend

  If you are looking for a solid prep hike for the Appalachian Trail or just want to hike one of National Geographic Adventure’s top North American hikes, look no further than the Art Loeb Trail near Brevard, NC. Rather than a loop trail, the Art Loeb Trail runs northbound for 30 miles from the Davidson River Campground to the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. The...

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