Visitor Information Center

A “must” stop for more information about the District. Located on US276 a short drive west from the intersection of US276/US64/NC280.

• Accessible information desk
• Hands-on exhibits
• Educational film
• Gift shop
• Restrooms

Winter hours: Monday-Friday 8-4:30 (closed holidays). Peak Season Hours: Monday-Saturday 9-5, Sunday – limited hours. No admission charge. 828-877-3265.

Cradle of Forestry in America

Located in the Pink Beds area (which got its name from the pink blooms of rhododendron, mountain laurel, and other pink flowers that grew here) the Cradle of Forestry is the historic site of the first forestry school in America. Your experience here begins with the Forest Discovery Center’s interactive exhibits, films, and a new helicopter simulation. From there, over 3 miles of paved accessible trails allow you to visit historic buildings, see an old logging locomotive, watch visiting local crafters, and more. Gift shop and café. Open mid-April to early November from 9-5 daily. Admission fee. For information or group rates, call: 828-877-3130.

Sliding Rock

One of Pisgah’s iconic attractions, Sliding Rock provides a first rate sliding and swimming experience where Looking Glass Creek cascades 60 feet over a broad, smooth rock into an 8 foot deep pool. Visitors may take the exhilarating slide down into the frigid water at their own risk. Denim shorts preferred – bathing suits can wear out on the rock surface after awhile. Short walk (150-250 yards) on a paved path to water. Seasonal fee charged when staffed and restrooms opened. Picnicking and drinking alcohol are prohibited.

Forest Heritage Scenic Byway

A 79-mile scenic loop (US276, NC215, and US64) offers many views of the district’s great scenery. Almost 18 miles of this route has been designated a National Scenic Byway. Guide pamplett available at the Visitor Center.

Bent Creek Experimental Forest

The Bent Creek Experimental Forest is situated on 5500 acres and is set aside for research to develop strategies for healthy and sustainable forestry. This forest was established in 1927 as the first experimental forest in the south. Research is conducted by the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station.


The Pisgah Ranger District has 120 trails covering approximately 380 miles within the Forest. All are open to hikers, and designated trails are open to horses and non-motorized vehicles. For detailed trail maps available for  your smart phone, click here.

Wilderness Areas

The Shining Rock Wilderness and the Middle Prong Wilderness were dedicated in 1964 and 1984, respectively, to provide a primitive outdoor experience. There are no trail signs or blazes on trees, and trails are maintained at a minimal level, so the treads may be difficult to see at times. Therefore, accurate maps and compasses – and the ability to use both -- are essential. To maintain the wilderness setting, mountain bikes, wheeled carts, campfires, and groups larger than 10 people are not allowed in these areas (although camp stoves are OK).