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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
Four Fantastic Fall Drives

Four Fantastic Fall Drives

Four Fantastic Fall Drives Whether you’re behind the wheel of a fancy convertible or the family minivan, a fall driving tour of Transylvania County is an unforgettable experience.  Sure, you can speed through these routes and see plenty of sights, but the ideal way is to take your foot off the gas and plan to make several stops along the way. 1 1 ​ TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY LOOP (3 – 7 hours, depending on stops) When it comes to driving tours, this is the Big Kahuna. It serves as both a wonderful introduction to the county and a splendid opportunity to see fall color thanks to the dramatic elevation changes along the route. To start, enter Pisgah National Forest on US 276 and begin heading north. You’ll encounter a number of great attractions and stops, including the Pisgah Ranger Station and Visitor Center, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and the Cradle of Forestry. Once you’re on the Blue Ridge Parkway, numerous overlooks offer up stunning views of the Blue Ridge mountains and the awesome rock monolith of Looking Glass Rock. We especially recommend Pounding Mill Overlook (Milepost 413.2), Graveyard Fields (Milepost 418.8), and Devil’s Courthouse (422.4). Come off the BRP at NC 215 for a winding trip back down into the valley. This stretch also offers abundant opportunities to discover why Transylvania County is known as the Land of Waterfalls, including Courthouse, Bird Rock, Mill Shoals, and French Broad Falls. Head east on US 64 and you’ll be back in... 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
Cedar Mountain Cool

Cedar Mountain Cool

Cedar Mountain Cool The Latest Word on a Small Community with Plenty of Big Fun Once a secret gem of a spot, the tiny, scenic hamlet of Cedar Mountain has become one of Transylvania County’s liveliest and most rewarding communities. It’s a great place to kick back and enjoy delicious food and beverages in an area full of art and fantastic hangouts. An excellent day trip while visiting Brevard, Cedar Mountain is perfect for catching your breath on the doorstep of outdoor adventure. Here are a few great places to get a sense of what makes Cedar Mountain so special: 1 1 FALL(s) IN LOVE For many visitors to Brevard and Transylvania County, Cedar Mountain is the entry point to DuPont State Recreational Forest. This beloved 12,500-acre state forest has trails, woodlands, beautiful views, and some of Transylvania County’s most  popular  waterfalls, including High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls, as well as Wintergreen Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.  Nearby Connestee Falls also offers up gorgeous views of a spectacular plunge from an accessible viewing area. 2 2 THROW THINGS Long known for its pottery studios and local art scene, Cedar Mountain is a great place to check in on what’s coming off the wheel. See what’s new at Studio 276, Mud Dabbers Pottery, Cedar Mountain Pottery, Lezard Brevard, and Hemlock’s Studio, and perhaps get inspired to take up a new hobby. 3 3 SIP AND SNACK Cedar Mountain has a host of delightful and unconventional... Read More