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Conserving Carolina announces five spring hikes

A March 17 hike on Foothills Trail along Laurel Fork Creek will give hikers a look at Oconee Bells in bloom. [CONSERVING CAROLINA PHOTO] A March 17 hike on Foothills Trail along Laurel Fork Creek will give hikers a look at Oconee Bells in bloom. [CONSERVING CAROLINA PHOTO]

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 habitat for native flora and fauna but also provide the public with the benefit of recreational opportunities such as walking, hiking, mountain biking, birding, botanizing, solitude and more. The series will offer an opportunity to enjoy the spring season through five guided hikes taking place every other Friday.

Here are upcoming hikes:

  • March 3, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area in Upstate South Carolina, 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.
  • March 17, Jocassee Gorges Management Area, a 7.1-mile hike on Foothills Trail along Laurel Fork Creek to the 80-foot Laurel Fork Falls. This out-and-back hike is of moderate difficulty, with some wet crossings, and will offer the opportunity to see Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia) in bloom. The discovery of this rare plant was made by French botanist, André Michaux, and became his most important find.
  • March 31, 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 March 22 at the Etowah Library, Conserving Carolina will host a free lecture about the site by Dennis Chastain, a noted naturalist, historian and outdoor writer. The talk is called “Native American Rock Carvings of the Carolina Mountains.” Then, on May 23, Chastain will join the Landrum Library's Speaker Series to present “Cherokee of the Carolinas.”
  • April 14, Nature Conservancy’s Blue Wall Preserve, a 6.8-mile, moderately strenuous — a 1,000-foot climb over one mile — out-and-back hike along the Blue Wall Escarpment. This hike offers beautiful mountain views, ponds, streams, forests and a waterfall.  An April 18 Landrum Library Speaker Series talk by Kristen Austin, Upstate Conservation Director for the Nature Conservancy, will focus on the Blue Wall Preserve.
  • April 28, Hickory Nut Gorge, an N.C. Year of the Trail hike celebrates trails and outdoor recreation in North Carolina. A 5.6-mile, moderate, out-and-back hike shows off Conserving Carolina’s newest trail, Strawberry Gap. The hike will take participants past Ferguson Peak and up to Blue Ridge Pastures, offering spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge.

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Space is limited and registration is required.  To register and for more information, click here. Conserving Carolina, the Hendersonville-based land trust, works to protect, restore and inspire appreciation of nature. Learn more and become a member at