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Red Spruce & Carolina Flying Squirrel

Red Spruce & Carolina Flying Squirrel

Red Spruce & Carolina Flying Squirrel A 78-Foot Red Spruce from Pisgah Travels to DC as the US Capitol Christmas Tree The assortment of fir trees and evergreens that thrive in the higher elevations of Brevard and Transylvania County is one of the area’s most scenic and treasured signs of life in our mountains.  Among these, the red spruce stands tall and is particularly important not just to our area but to the region beyond. Known as the “Redwoods of the East,” North Carolina’s red spruce is the largest conifer indigenous to the Southern Appalachians. Its spindly, high-reaching branches rise up like an island in the sky over the high tops of the Blue Ridge, providing color and texture to the landscape and a critical pocket ecosystem for flora and fauna, among them Carolina Northern Flying Squirrels, which are listed as federally endangered. These delightful, furry aviators enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the red spruce via a particular underground fungus. These fungi provide water and nutrients for the trees and receive sugars in return. The squirrels then spread the spores through the forest, which helps the red spruce. Many decades of logging and wildfires led to a precipitous decline in the Appalachian red spruce by the middle of the 20th century. In 2013, Transylvania County’s Southern Highlands Reserve (SHR), a nonprofit, high-elevation native plant garden and research center, undertook a partnership with the Nature Conservancy to restore red spruce trees to the Southern Appalachians. Two years later, in 2015,... Read More
Rocking and Rolling

Rocking and Rolling

Rocking and Rolling ​Gravel Cycling in Transylvania County Brevard/Transylvania County is justifiably renowned for its mountain biking and road cycling. But there’s a lesser known – yet equally superb – cycling activity that’s gaining popularity. Best of all, there’s no better place on the planet to try it than right here. The sport is gravel biking. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers! Q&A Q&A: What is gravel biking? Think of gravel biking as a hybrid between mountain biking and road cycling. In most cases, gravel biking takes place on an unpaved road with bikes that are similar to road bikes, but with wider and/or treaded tires. Q&A Q&A: What’s the point? In a word: fun. Gravel bikes enable you to explore deep in the woods while riding on non-technical surfaces. So, in many respects, you get the benefits of mountain biking without the technical challenges of maneuvering around large rocks and roots. Q&A Q&A: Why is Transylvania County such a great place to gravel bike? Thanks to Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest, there are literally hundreds of miles of well-maintained gravel roads, often referred to as “Forest Service” or “FS” roads. The opportunities for deep exploration into pristine corners of our county are multiplied many times over when your mode of transportation is a gravel bike. Q&A Q&A: What kind of bike do I need? Thanks to the growing popularity of gravel biking, manufacturers offer a wide range of gravel-specific bikes featuring wider tires and a... Read More
Headwaters State Forest: Go Wild

Headwaters State Forest: Go Wild

Headwaters State Forest: Go Wild ​Headwaters State Forest A Conservation Laboratory North Carolina’s newest state forest was founded in 2018 and represents another iconic destination in Transylvania County. In terms of beauty and features, it’s on par with Pisgah, DuPont and Gorges. However, its remote location and limited access make it a more appropriate destination for adventurers with good wilderness and map-reading skills. We caught up with Assistant Regional Forester Michael Cheek, who oversees this 6,730 acre mountain wonderland for the North Carolina Forest Service to help us understand the importance of Headwaters and the opportunities for visitors to enjoy its unique topography and features. Q&A Q&A: Michael, what’s distinctive about Headwaters? “Headwaters is located right along the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and the South Carolina border.  It’s very remote and has a very “back country” feel to it. You’ll find plenty of trails and lots of solitude.” Q&A Q&A: What’s the key mission of Headwaters State Forest? “Certainly, recreation is a part of it, but our primary focus is on the conservation of the headwater streams that feed into the East Fork of the French Broad River. There are over a dozen named streams feeding into the East Fork, totaling some 50 miles. That’s where our clean drinking water comes from, and these headwater streams are key to that. Part of our mission is also to demonstrate good forestry practices – to show the public the best way to manage this important resource. This land has... Read More
Be Waterfall Wise

Be Waterfall Wise

Be Waterfall Wise Waterfalls are part of the identity of Brevard and Transylvania County. There are more than 250 cascades scattered throughout the county, earning us the nickname “Land of Waterfalls.” While we encourage visitors and residents alike to enjoy these natural wonders, we also want to remind everyone to Be Waterfall Wise when you are in their proximity. Every year, people are seriously injured and even die around waterfalls. Over the past several years, the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority has worked closely with our forest and park managers and a variety of public safety organizations to raise awareness about the dangers of waterfalls by creating a campaign to promote safe practices around waterfalls. As a result, the number of injuries and fatalities has been dramatically reduced. But accidents still happen, and we’re committed to sharing our safety messaging to keep you and your loved ones safe. If you’re planning a trip to Brevard – or anywhere near waterfalls – please familiarize yourself with these seven simple waterfall safety tips: OBSERVE all posted signs leading to waterfall areas. DO NOT swim or wade upstream near a waterfall. STAY on marked trails and observation areas. WATCH for slick rocks around waterfalls. DO NOT jump off waterfalls or dive into pools. WATCH your children and pets at all times. DO NOT climb on rocks above waist height. Follow @explorebrevardnc on Instagram and @explorebrevard on Facebook to stay abreast of current conditions and the latest waterfall advisories. You’ll also find helpful... Read More
Winter Weather Checklist

Winter Weather Checklist

Winter Weather Checklist Seven Safety Tips for Winter Adventures Wintertime brings a host of exciting options to adventurers eager to get on the trails in the amazing forests of Brevard and Transylvania County. From more expansive views to ice climbing to a car-free Blue Ridge Parkway, the opportunities for experiencing our natural landscape in a whole new way are many.  Like any season, winter comes with risks as well as rewards. Weather can change quickly. Temperatures drop at higher elevations. Knowing how to prepare yourself for cold weather is a critical component of how you can Leave It Better out on the trail, and it will keep you safe and worry-free on your next cold snap adventure. Here are a few tips so you don’t head out (snow) blind: 1 1 CHECK IT OUT BEFORE YOU GO. Many of Brevard and Transylvania’s public lands operate with smaller staffs during the winter months. That’s why it’s critically important to check on the status of trails, roads and landmarks before you go. Updated information can be found here: Pisgah National Forest       |      DuPont State Recreational Forest Gorges State Park      |      Blue Ridge Parkway 2 2 KNOW THE FORECAST. Understanding the local weather forecast goes a long way in knowing what type of conditions to anticipate. If the forecast calls for storms or dropping temperatures, consider rescheduling a long hike or a camping trip for milder conditions. Waterfalls can be particularly treacherous in winter... Read More