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.

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. We’re waiting on final clearance to reroute Middle Black Mountain trail, which will include relocating a rutted fall-line trail to a more suitable and sustainable line. We’ll also be partnering with the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority, the City of Brevard, and Transylvania County to create a new Horse Cove/Joel Branch Connector trail, which will provide new connectivity across the Forest. Very exciting developments for the coming year! I will provide more in-depth information and profiles of each project in future newsletters.

Of course, each of these projects has required a lot of work by many participants over a long period of time, both behind the scenes during the planning phase and now on the ground. In that spirit, I would like to offer acknowledgement of and appreciation for the hard work and commitment of Jim and Sharon Spicer and Tony and Brenda Bland. Over the last month and a half, these members of the Carolina Mountain Club took the lead on the crucial work of preparing the ground for the upcoming construction of the Horse Cove/Joel Branch Connector trail. Before they began work, the Joel Branch Road was severely and dangerously overgrown with rhododendron and mountain laurel, which at a number of stretches would force vehicles to a dangerous path on the very edge of the road. Thanks to their brushing efforts, this 5.7-mile road is now clear and accessible. The Forest Service will now be able to perform heavier work on the road, preparing it for the upcoming trail project. Contractors will be able to use the road as an access point for transporting materials and equipment when construction on the trail begins. Thank you so much to this hard-working crew of four! And thanks to the Back Country Horsemen of Pisgah who also contributed a workday to this important project!

As always, be sure to get out and enjoy the Forest, and thanks to you all for your continued support of the Pisgah Conservancy and Pisgah National Forest!