Trails Corner

Fall has arrived in the Pisgah bringing cooler temperatures, tumbling leaves, vibrant colors, and prime hiking conditions. Whether in our high country, taking in the massive vistas and marveling at the fire-red slopes of autumn-kissed blueberry bushes, or exploring the deep hardwood coves walking creek-side, rained upon by the yellows, reds, and bronzes of hickory, maple, and oak, now is indisputably a great time to get out a walk our forest trails. It is truly a special time to bear witness to the perennial wonders of the changing season. As you all do so, we will continue on in our work to maintain and improve these trails so as to provide all with access to our majestic forest.

Jeff posted an article last month about improvements to the Ivestor Gap Trail. It was great to see so much interest in the repairs that were made, and we have received a few questions from folks interested in the history and improvements to the trail. Below is some information that we pulled together, based on questions we received:

September is proving to be a busy and exciting month for trail work on the Pisgah. Our volunteer trail crews are out accomplishing great work across the District. Blowdowns have been cleared, and important work is being done on trails around the Ranger Station, in Bent Creek, on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and other high elevation hiking trails, and on the trail networks surrounding the horse camps in Wash Creek and Wolf Ford. Great efforts all around. A big thanks, as always, to all our trail volunteers in the Forest.

In addition to our volunteers, multiple partner organizations are currently at work on the Forest. Throughout the month of September, the Pisgah Ranger District is hosting a 4-person trail crew from the Student Conservation Association. This organization, whose mission is “to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land,” was actually the first avenue through which I began working in service to our public lands back in 2003. This first opportunity and experience really built the foundation upon which I have based my career working in our National Parks and Forests. We are happy to have this crew on the Pisgah and appreciate their hard work and service!

August has been a very exciting month for trails on the Pisgah Ranger District indeed! Our hardworking volunteers and district personnel have been out in the Forest performing much needed drainage and brushing work throughout the district, trying to make up for lost time and provide the necessary regular maintenance for our vast network of trails. Blowdowns are being cleared and new signage has been installed on a number of trails to prevent confusion. We are preparing also to host trail crews this coming fall from a pair of USFS service partners, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS). Their work is greatly appreciated and will be an excellent contribution to our continuing improvement of the Pisgah trail system.

The hot, humid days, building thunderheads, and afternoon downpours of July have arrived in the Pisgah. Summer is in full swing with many visitors out there enjoying the trails, the rivers, and the open balds at high elevation offering massive views of our corner of the Southern Appalachians. All trails and most roads in the Forest are currently open, as are the majority of roadside recreation areas. Roadside camping is still prohibited, and closures are still in place for all back country shelters. The following roads are currently closed: Lickstone Road (#97), Courthouse Creek Road (#140), Yellow Gap (#1206), and Pilot Mountain (#229). Although currently closed at press time, the latter two roads, Yellow Gap and Pilot Mountain, will be reopening very soon. With the majority of the Forest open, many much-needed opportunities exist to get out of our homes and into the mountains among towering trees and tumbling cascades. Let us do so, but let us also remember to follow the practices necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Be safe and responsible out there!