PAC’s next hike heads to Montreat Wilderness Area

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

Join the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) on Friday, Oct. 21, for a 4.7-mile hike at Montreat Wilderness Area, the third hike of PAC’s Fall Hiking Series. PAC’s director of stewardship and land protection, Pam Torlina, will lead hikers to Lookout Rock.

The 4.7-mile hike is a moderate to strenuous loop with a total ascent of 1,040 feet.  The trailhead is accessed from the historic Montreat Conference Center. The highlight of this hike is Lookout Rock, a stone outcrop which offers views of the Montreat and Swannanoa valleys and the Seven Sisters range (or Middle Mountain).

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Montreat Conference Center has been “a place set apart” for spiritual rest, renewal, and recreation for over 100 years. In 1897, the Mountain Retreat Association purchased 4,500 acres with the intention of building a Christian settlement. In October, 1916, Montreat Normal School opened as a four-year preparatory and two-year college geared at preparing young Christian women to become teachers; the first session had eight students in attendance.

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In 1934, Montreat Normal School was renamed Montreat College. In 1945, the college began a four-year degree program, and in 1959 the college became a coeducational junior college and was re-named Montreat-Anderson College.   

In 1974, the Mountain Retreat Association and Montreat-Anderson College became two separate organizations. In 1986, the college again became a baccalaureate institution and in 1995, returned to the original name of Montreat College.

In 2004, the 2,460-acre Montreat Wilderness Area was placed under a conservation easement that would permanently protect the mountain cove property from development. To this day, Montreat College has a four-year program on several campuses, as well as a graduate program, and the Montreat Conference Center offers a wide variety of meeting, housing, dining, and recreational facilities for large conferences to private retreats and reunions.

If you are interested in attending the PAC hike to Lookout Rock, please contact the PAC office to sign up by phone at 828-859-5060 or e-mail

Hikers are asked to meet at the Columbus Bi-Lo at 8:30 a.m. to check in, arrange carpooling, and then start the approximately one and a quarter-hour drive to the trail head. Hikers should be prepared to return to the area in the mid-afternoon.

For your safety, do not attempt any hike beyond your ability and experience. Hikers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear; bring a bag lunch and/or snack and plenty of water. Please be sure to bring any personal medication that you may require.

In case of inclement weather, please contact the PAC office by 8:15 on the day of the hike, check the PAC website,, and/or the PAC Facebook page,, to see if the hike will take place.

If you cannot make this hike but would like to attend future hikes, please visit PACs website or Facebook page for information on upcoming hikes. The next hike takes place on Nov. 4, and heads to John Rock, Pisgah National Forest.

– article submitted by Pam Torlina