October 1, 2017
The countdown to finishing the Pisgah 400 (all the trails of the Pisgah Ranger District in North Carolina) has begun. Emily and I concocted a great plan: we would stay for the week at her family’s house in Hendersonville and I would spend the days hiking, and then spend the nights with everyone at the house.
Among those remaining trails are three great family hikes near the Cradle of Forestry, a 6,550 acre historic site near Pink Beds and Brevard, N.C. It was the site of the first forestry school in America, the Biltmore School.
The three trails (Biltmore Campus Trail, Forest Festival Trail, and Forest Discovery Trail) are all paved and quite easy.
The main educational building houses lots of exhibits, a café and gift shop. When Alice, Emily and I arrived; an elderly gentleman named Mr. Beanblossom warmly greeted us. He would be leading a walking tour of the Biltmore Campus trail. This turned out to be fortuitous as he was a wealth of knowledge regarding Pisgah and the school.
Carl A. Schenck, a German, who in 1895 ran George Vanderbilt’s forest estate, (what would eventually become Pisgah Forest) started the school.
Along the paved walkway, the trail tours by the school, the ranger office, the original store, living facilities, the blacksmith’s building and Schenck’s office.
After a while, the other tour members left, leaving only Mr. Beanblossom and us. He is a retired forester from West Virginia and recounted great historical stories. We very much enjoyed it.
After the Biltmore Campus, we hiked the two other trails (which are also paved). The Forest Festival has a locomotive, springs and plant areas. The Forest Discovery is a nice moderate path into the woods above the Cradle, with many benches for sitting and listening to the forest.
GPS link (Biltmore): https://www.movescount.com/moves/move179531315
GPS link (Forest Festival and Discovery): https://www.movescount.com/moves/move179531293
Total mileage is 4.09 miles.