The Cantrell Creek Trail has long been used by mountain bikers, hikers and equestrian users to access this beautiful part of Pisgah. Originally started as a logging access in the early 1900's, the trail crossed Cantrell Creek more than 20 times over its course, resulting in quite a bit of erosion and ultimately a significant source of sediment into the pristine, trout-rich waters of Cantrell Creek and the South Mills River. Although the Forest Service identified the sedimentation problem, they didn't have sufficient financial resources available to correct it. Luckily, Trout Unlimited quickly jumped in and brought 5 stream and trout related groups together to raise $25,000 for the project. Unfortunately, the total price tag to complete the project was going to be over $150,000; And that's where The Pisgah Conservancy came in.
Over the next several months, members of the Conservancy pulled multiple user groups together, some of which are often thought of as having competing interests in the forest. However, when these groups came together with a common goal they were able to find their common ground. Additionally, the Conservancy identified many other interested parties and was able to raise the funds needed for this project.
The project itself consisted of three parts: Stream restoration, moving and rerouting the trail, and decommissioning the old trail.
In the fall of 2019, the Forest Service reopened Cantrell Creek Trail to all user groups. Now, the trail sits above Cantrell Creek where users can look down upon the beautiful watershed while enjoying their hike or ride.
This project is a poster-child for the value that The Pisgah Conservancy brings to the table: the trust of the Forest Service, the ability to bring together many user groups and find their common ground and the ability to raise the funds needed to bring a project to completion.