Trails Corner

Greetings and a happy close of the year to you all! Although we have not yet seen our first real dusting of snow, there has been a flurry of activity on the trails of Pisgah this past month.

December saw the arrival of an eight-member Americorps National Civilian Community Corps crew to the Pisgah Ranger District. Modeled on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), this group of 18- to 24-year-old interns has been traveling as a group across Forest Service units in the southern region since July, delivering much-needed assistance to Fire, Recreation, and Trails projects while gaining valuable work experience.

The last month has been a beautiful one in the mountains of the Pisgah Ranger District. We have seen long stretches of clear, cool, and sunny fall weather, with blue skies and multicolored foliage, punctuated by the warm, humid, rainy backwash of tropical systems coming in from the Gulf. As we begin transitioning to winter, sweeping vistas forgotten since last spring will emerge again through the naked branches of ridgetop trails and that sense of distance and scale, the true spread of the mountains, will become apparent once more on our Pisgah treks and rambles.  

Falling leaves will cover our trails and fill our drains — and our volunteer trail workers will be kept busy cleaning out these drains to prevent erosive damage to our trails. Getting and keeping water off our trails is the most important thing we can do for the prevention of trail damage and deterioration, and it requires constant hard work. Cutting down trees after storms and winds has also been a key part of our volunteers’ work this month. Thanks to all our volunteer groups for their continued efforts on the Forest. As always, your work is truly appreciated.

We’ve also been busy this month preparing to implement several contracted trail projects on the District in the coming year. This coming spring, we’ll be performing heavy maintenance on Graveyard Ridge trail between Ivestor Gap and its junction with the Mountains-to-Sea trail.

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!