“For Love of Beer and Mountains” Southern Sixer Kickoff Hike

Location: Mount Kephart, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Date: Saturday, February 25th

Start Time: 10 AM; Carpool info TBA

Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous (6-7)

Leader: Haley Smith, SAHC AmeriCorps Outreach Member; Drew Stevenson, Highland Brewing

Cost: FREE!

Registration: Pre-registration is REQUIRED.

Dogs: Dogs are not allowed in the National Park

The first of six guided hikes in our “Southern Sixer Challenge” Series will be to Mount Kephart, the smaller neighbor of Mount LeConte. Still, at 6,217 ft, the summit of Mount Kephart puts it in the middle of the pack of other Sixers.

Hikers will begin at Newfound Gap and hike 2.2 miles along the Appalachian Trail through spruce-fir forests. We will then take the Boulevard and Jumpoff Trails to the unmarked summit of Mount Kephart. Views are limited from the physical summit, but we will continue another quarter mile to The Jumpoff, the top of the 1,000 sheer wall on the side of Mount Kephart. While we will have to exercise caution from this appropriately named landmark, this location offers spectacular views of the Park, Mount Guyot, and Charlie’s Bunion to the Southeast.

SAHC holds conservation easements on several tracts in the area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Protecting conservation land adjoining the national park creates a buffer for wildlife, and helps preserve viewsheds in this unique landscape. Our organization’s very first conservation easement project was completed in 1992 at Cataloochee Ranch, protecting land adjacent to GSMNP.

For more information or to register, please email or call (828) 253-0095 x205.

Hurray for Volunteers! At Cataloochee Ranch with Nature Valley & NPCA

cataloochee-nature-valley-work-day-023.jpg31 volunteers and staff rallied to help the Smokies on Saturday, July 28.  In a partnership with Nature Valley (the granola bar company) and the National Parks Conservation Association, several SAHC projects are underway at the protected Cataloochee Ranch (directly adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) to improve animal habitat, plant life and water quality.

On Saturday under a clear sky with beautiful views of the Plott Balsams, Mt. Pisgah, and the Smokies, volunteers improved an eroded section of popular trail mere meters from the border of Great Smoky Mountains Park.  Fueled by camaraderie and an endless supply of Nature Valley granola bars, volunteers used shovels and trail tools to reshape a badly incised section of trail into a good slope to efficiently shed water instead of catching sediment and carrying it to the streams. Read more

SAHC Purchases 60-acre Tract in Smoky Mountain Focus Area

Blackrock tractJust last week we closed on the purchase of a 60-acre tract in the Plott Balsam mountains, just north of Sylva in Jackson County. The Plott Balsam mountain range looms over Sylva and Waynesville in beautiful western North Carolina. These mountains are within SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus area and the addition of this property contributes significantly to SAHC’s protection goals.

Located within the Yellow Face/Blackrock Mountain State Natural Heritage Area as well as the Plott Balsams Important Bird Area, the property has significant conservation values and adds to the connectivity of protected lands in the area. It adjoins the Nature Conservancy’s 1,595-acre Plott Balsam Preserve and is very near to the Sylva watershed park, which is protected by a conservation easement and connected to the watershed by trails maintained by Western Carolina University students. Read more


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