PAC kicks off its spring hiking series Friday, Feb. 21

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) for five Friday hikes and two Saturday hikes, offered this spring, free of charge.

Starting Feb. 21, PAC’s first hike will head to the Keowee- Toxaway State Natural Area for a 4.2-mile, moderate/strenuous loop hike with beautiful mountain and lake views. The trail begins at the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center, the former Holly Springs Baptist Church, on the Natural Bridge trail.

The Natural Bridge trail crosses Poe Creek, a tributary to Lake Keowee on a natural granite bridge. At this point, hikers pick up the Raven Rock trail which begins with an up-and-down trek around McKinney Mountain. At the top of McKinney Mountain, the rocky peak offers awesome views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the picturesque Lake Keowee.

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The trail descends the mountain and brings hikers to the shores of Lake Keowee. After leaving the lake shore, the trail PAC kicks off its spring hiking series Friday, Feb. 21 ascends then leads hikers back to Poe Creek, following the creek along cascades and through rhododendron, mountain laurel and hemlock for a short while before crossing the creek on boulders and rejoining the Natural Bridge trail for the return to the Visitor Center.

Those interested in attending the PAC hike at Keowee- Toxaway State Natural Area, contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail, landprotection@pacolet. org. Hikers will meet at the Gowensville Spinx at 8:30 a.m. to check in and start the approximately one hour drive to the trail head.

Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water. Be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require. Hikers should be prepared to return to the area by 3 p.m., at the latest. In case of inclement weather, contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike to see if the hike will take place.

The remaining dates of the spring hiking schedule are as follows: March 7, hikers will head to Crowders Mountain State Park for a 4.9-mile, moderate/strenuous lollipop trek to the top of the mountain for beautiful views and geologic formations. On March 21, the group will head to Kanuga Conference Center for a 4-mile, moderate loop hike to the top of Eagle Rock, which offers beautiful views.

On Saturday, March 22, PAC will host Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina for a 4-mile, moderate lollipop hike at the PAC owned and protected Norman Wilder Forest.

On April 4, PAC will host Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy for a 4-mile, moderate loop hike at the PAC protected Walnut Creek Preserve. Hikers will enjoy spring wildflowers and a break along Walnut Creek.

On April 18, hikers will head to Pisgah National Forest for a 6.6-mile loop hike along Avery Creek and to Twin Falls.

Finally, on Saturday, April 19, celebrate Earth Day with a hike with your favorite pooch. PAC & Foothills Humane Society will co-host a 5.5-mile, moderate/strenuous out and back hike at Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve. Bring your dog (on a leash) and enjoy a hike ascending the south side of Squirrel Mountain to its ridge and down its north side to the South Pacolet River.

Also, PAC invites the public to participate in a “Hiking Challenge!” Complete all five Friday PAC hikes this spring and receive a custom bumper sticker acknowledging your accomplishment.

Those interested in attending the PAC spring hikes and would like more information, call the PAC office at 828-859-5060 or e-mail landprotection@pacolet. org. Information can also be found on PAC’s website www. and on PAC’s Facebook page, pacoletarea.conservancy. PAC is a non-profit 501(c) (3) qualified conservation organization (land trust) that works with landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their land through voluntary conservation easements.

PAC’s mission is to protect and conserve our area’s natural resources with a vision of a community living and growing in harmony with our natural heritage and a goal to provide a legacy that will endure and be valued by generations to come.

– article submitted by Pam Torlina