Montreat Wilderness Hike 2018

In 2018 the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchased 123 acres including the western flank and summit of Brushy Knob, one of the Seven Sisters near Black Mountain, NC. To celebrate the acquisition of this valuable conservation land we led an educational hike along the outer rim of the Montreat Wilderness. Participants learned about SAHC’s role in conservation in the Black Mountains and were able to see the new acquisition firsthand. The hike consisted of 3,000′ of elevation gain over 8.5 miles! The following is one participant’s reflection on the outing…

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Montreat Wilderness Hike 2018

Date: Saturday, November 10th
Time: Starting at 9:00 am
Where: Montreat Wilderness
Difficulty: Extremely strenuous (13) — 8.5-mile hike with steep terrain
Cost: FREE for SAHC Members; $10 for non-members

Join Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for an adventurous hike around the outer rim of the Montreat Wilderness. This hike is to celebrate SAHC’s recent acquisition of one of the Seven Sisters of the Montreat Wilderness, Brushy Knob. Brushy Knob, also known as “Big Piney,” is the third Sister in the chain of summits straddling the Asheville watershed and Montreat. This 123 acre preserve encompasses forested slopes, rock outrcoppings, and the summit of Brushy Knob itself (over 4160 ft. elevation). Our acquisition of this land protects important biological and ecological areas, including a portion of the Audubon Society’s Black and Great Craggy Mountain Important Bird Area.

This hike will begin up the famous Graybeard Trail traveling via switchbacks from the old Mt Mitchell narrow-gauge railroad bed from the 1920’s. On this path we will pass through beautiful forest, Pleistocene boulder fields, and Graybeard Falls. We will then proceed to Walker’s Knob, a rocky outcrop with sprawling views of Montreat and Black Mountain. The hike will then continue on the Graybeard Trail to its summit at 5,408′ above sea level where we will have lunch.

We will then begin our descent down the West Ridge Trail along the Seven Sisters. To the west of this rugged, scenic trail is the protected Asheville Watershed and SAHC’s newest acquisition, Brushy Knob. We will then turn onto the Big Piney Trail, enjoying one more spectacular rocky outcrop before descending to the Little Piney Trail and exiting the trail system. Be sure to bring durable hiking boots, snacks, water, and lunch for this long, beautiful, strenuous, unforgettable hike.

Hike difficulty ratings are based on this formula: (0.002 x elevation gain (ft.)) + round trip distance (mi.) = difficulty rating (1 – 10+)

Registration for this hike is full – if you would like to be placed on the waiting list email

2018 Summer Hike with Hemlock Restoration Initiative

Location: Montreat, NC

Date: Saturday, July 7th

Time: 9:00 am

Difficulty: Strenuous (7-8)

Leader: Emily Adler, SAHC Americorps Outreach Associate & Thom Green, Hemlock Restoration Initiative Outreach Associate

Cost: Free for SAHC members; $10 for non-members. Pre-registration is required.

Join SAHC and the Hemlock Restoration Initiative (HRI) on a hike to explore some beautiful  Carolina hemlocks in the Montreat Wilderness, on which SAHC holds a 2,460-acre conservation easement. We will learn about Carolina hemlock ecosystems, the hemlock woolly adelgid, and current options and efforts to control the adelgid.  The hike will be about 4.5 miles, we will be walking along a ridge and will summit 3 different peaks, be prepared for about 1000 ft of elevation change and some steep uphills and downhills.  The loop will take us through a stand of Carolina & Eastern Hemlocks and eventually to the top of Lookout Mountain!

2018 Summer Hike with the Hemlock Restoration Initiative

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Winter Tree ID in Montreat

img_2144.jpgThis year’s winter tree identification hike took place in the beautiful Montreat Wilderness. As our intrepid, aspiring dendrologists hiked near Montreat’s streams, cold conditions and overcast skies gave way to a wonderfully pleasant western North Carolina winter day. Our guests were treated to a variety of topics, including native plant communities, forest health issues, and the cultural history of Montreat.

Chris Coxen, SAHC’s Field Ecologist, discussed basic tips for winter tree identification success. Examine the form of the tree — is it straight or does it dramatically bend to seek out sunlight (like a sourwood tree)? What does the bark look like? Are the twigs coming off of the main branches alternate or opposite? Read more


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