Conserving Carolina’s Spring Hiking Series begins in March
Published 8:30 am Thursday, February 2, 2023
Conserving Carolina invites the community to enjoy the work that conservation organizations have done over the years to preserve our area’s natural resources. These special places not only provide important habitats for our native flora and fauna, but they also provide the public with the benefit of recreational opportunities such as walking, hiking, mountain biking, birding, botanizing, solitude, and so much more. This series will offer an opportunity to enjoy the spring season through five guided hikes taking place every other Friday.
Starting March 3, the first trek will head to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in Upstate South Carolina for a 5.6-mile, moderate, out-and-back hike along the Pinnacle Pass and Naturaland Trust trails to view Moonshine Falls. Hikers will have to cross Matthews Creek using a cable crossing (one cable for your feet and one cable for your hands). This is the easiest way to cross the creek, but rock hopping and wading may be possible.
The next hike, on March 17, will take place at Jocassee Gorges Management Area where the group will follow the Foothills Trail along Laurel Fork Creek to a beautiful patch of Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia), hopefully in bloom! This 6.5-mile, out-and-back hike is of moderate difficulty, with some wet crossings, and will offer the opportunity to visit Virginia Hawkins Falls, a beautiful 60′ cascading waterfall. The discovery of the Oconee Bell was first made by French botanist, André Michaux, and became his most important find. On June 13, join Conserving Carolina to learn more about Michaux and his botanical discoveries in the Carolina mountains by attending the Landrum Library Speaker Series which will feature Charles Williams, an expert on André Michaux.
On March 31, the group will head to Pinnacle Mountain (Long Ridge) in Table Rock State Park in South 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 are believed to be created by the Hopewell culture and pre-date the Cherokee. They are thought to be between 1,500 and 3,500 years old.
On April 14, the group will head to The Nature Conservancy’s Blue Wall Preserve for a 6.8-mile, moderately strenuous (strenuous due to a 1,290’ elevation gain over just one mile), out-and-back hike along the Blue Wall Escarpment. This hike offers beautiful mountain views, ponds, streams, forests, and a waterfall. Then, on April 18, join Conserving Carolina at the Landrum Library Speaker Series to learn about the preservation and ecology of this property from Kristen Austin, Upstate Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy.
Finally, on April 28, join Conserving Carolina for NC Year of the Trail and celebrate trails and outdoor recreation in North Carolina as they head to Hickory Nut Gorge for a 6-mile, moderate, out-and-back hike along Conserving Carolina’s newest trail, Strawberry Gap! This hike will take participants past Ferguson Peak and up to Blue Ridge Pastures, offering spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge.
Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To register and for more information, visit Conserving Carolina’s website and “calendar” tab, conservingcarolina.org/calendar.
Conserving Carolina, your local land trust, works to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of nature. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org.
Submitted by Pam Torlina