My Adventure Story
The Get Out More Tour enjoyed a wonderful visit to Asheville, North Carolina for the Asheville Mountain Sports festival and a stop at Mast General Store. We knew there was no way we could come to this part of the country and resist the urge to go explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and get our feet on some great trail in Pisgah National Forest.
With a fantastic campground near Mt. Pisgah we had a wonderful base camp to work from and with the nearby Pink Beds and Graveyard Fields our hiking “jones” was satisfied.
We suggest you take your time! If you get a chance to hit the Blue Ridge Parkway, please take your time! Please go slow, please stop at overlooks, please take the time to hit a trail or two, it would be a real shame to fly by everything this awesome roadway has to offer.
We tried to take our time and enjoy the views and vistas that presented themselves along the parkway between Mt. Pisgah Campground and our first hike of the day. Just a few miles south of Mt. Pisgah we came upon an overlook of The Cradle of Forestry in America. We were intrigued and just couldn’t resist the opportunity to drop down into such an alluring valley for a few miles of trail time through the awe inspiring beauty of the Pink Beds.
The five mile Pink Beds Loop winds around the floor of the beautiful Pink Beds Valley in Pisgah National Forest. The trail exposes hikers to streams, laurel and rhododendron thickets, wildflowers, mature forests and pocket wetlands. While hiking through the Pink Beds you may encounter many birds, dragonflies, amphibians and snakes. Black Bear, White-tail Deer and Beaver have been seen in the area as well. The Pink Beds valley harbors habitat for the beautiful swamp pink, a federally threatened member of the lily family dependent on wetlands. The population of swamp pink in the Pisgah National Forest is the largest in North Carolina and the second largest in the world.
The Pink Beds Valley is part of a 6,800 acre tract designated by congress in 1968 as the Cradle of Forestry in America. Averaging about 3,200 feet elevation, the Pink Beds Valley cradles the headwaters of the South Fork Mills River. The designation by congress was used to commemorate the beginning of forest conservation in the United States.
In !892 George Vanderbilt, owner of the Biltmore Estate, hired forester Gifford Pinchot to begin practicing forestry in this large valley that is now part of Pisgah National Forest. Before that time little thought went into conservation. Vast tracts of Appalachia were scarred by uncontrolled logging and wildfires. Pinchot introduces new and innovative forestry methods: careful planning, erosion control and tree planting. Pinchot and his successor, Carl A. Schenck, proved that such practices could be used to make forests productive and profitable. Soon many others saw the benefits of managed forestry and adopted the techniques used here.
After getting the blood flowing in the Pink Beds we hopped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and once again took it slow, enjoying every overview as we made our way to Graveyard Fields for a hike to the Upper Falls.
The Graveyard Fields were devastated by a natural disaster 500 to 1000 years ago when a tremendous “wind-blow” uprooted the spruce forest. When the roots and trees rotted away they left behind strange looking dirt mounds that gave the appearance of a large graveyard and thus the area became known as Graveyard Fields. The forest eventually recovered only to be destroyed again in 1925 by a catastrophic fire. This fire consumed the entire spruce-fir forest and the mounds. The area today is slowly recovering and may once again flourish as a spruce-fir forest at Graveyard fields.
After a wonderful trip with camping at Mt. Pisgah Campground, exploring on the Blue Ridge Parkway, backpacking through the Pink Beds and a casual hike through Graveyard Fields we felt re-energized, refreshed, and ready to get back to our mission of inspiring and informing as the Get Out More Tour rolls on! We may just be visiting a town near you, check out our schedule at www.backpacker.com/getoutmore.