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Conserving Carolina’s Fall Hiking Series begins Sept. 22

Join Conserving Carolina, formerly the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), for five Friday hikes offered to the public, free of charge, this fall. 

Conserving Carolina invites the community to enjoy the work that many conservation organizations have done for the preservation of the area’s natural resources and take in the beauty of the of the fall!

Starting Sept. 22, the first trek will head to Caesar’s Head State Park, part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, for an approximately 6.7-mile, easy, out and back hike.  This trail will take hikers through a hardwood forest to a suspension bridge over the Matthews Creek and at the precipice of Raven Cliff Falls.  After the hike, participants are invited to visit the overlook at Caesar’s Head State Park, an official Hawk Watch site, to search the skies for migrating raptors.  Each year, thousands of raptors, especially Broad-winged Hawks, migrate over this site along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, using thermal currents formed by sun on the rock, to gain altitude and glide for miles over the Piedmont, expending very little energy.

On Oct. 6, the hike will take place at Buffalo Creek Park in Hickory Nut Gorge.  The trail at Buffalo Creek Park is on land owned by the Town of Lake Lure and protected by Conserving Carolina.  It was completed in 2014 and is the first phase of a trail system that will offer over 13-miles of multi-use trails in Hickory Nut Gorge.  This is a 4.7-mile, moderate, loop hike that ascends Weed Patch Mountain with a gain of 500 feet in elevation then passes through a large boulder field offering views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Lure, then descends the mountain back to the trailhead.

On October 20, the 3.8-mile, moderate, out and back hike will take place along a portion of the Mountain to Sea Trail to the ruins of Rattlesnake Lodge, a 1900’s summer estate, offering a beautiful overlook view. 

On Nov. 3, hikers head to Pisgah National Forest for a moderate 6-mile, out and back hike starting from the former site of George Vanderbilt’s Buck Spring hunting lodge near Mt. Pisgah.  The hike crosses the summit of Little Bald Mountain before dropping down to Pilot Rock, offering beautiful mountain views.

Finally, on Nov. 17, the group will head to Pinnacle Mountain (Long Ridge) in Table Rock State Park.  Pinnacle Mountain is the tallest mountain contained entirely within South Carolina (South Carolina’s highest point, Sassafras Mountain, is partially in North Carolina). The 5.5-mile, moderate hike will traverse areas affected by fires in the fall of 2016 and lead hikers to a granitic bald where, in the late 1990s, more than 600 prehistoric petroglyphs were discovered.  The petroglyphs, believed to be created by the Hopewell culture, pre-date the Cherokees and are believed to be between 1,500 and 3,500 years old.

If you are interested in attending Conserving Carolina’s fall hikes and would like more information, please call the Southeast (Polk County) office at 828-859-5060 or e-mail Pam Torlina at, pam@conservingcarolina.org.  You can also find information on Conserving Carolina’s website, www.conservingcarolina.org, and on Conserving Carolina’s Facebook page.

Conserving Carolina is dedicated to protecting and stewarding land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life and to fostering appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

– submitted by Pam Torlina