It’s not often that I find new trails. There are plenty of trails I haven’t hiked but Bracken Mountain in Brevard is a new hiking area in Western North Carolina.
Carolina Mountain Club is always of top of what is happening in the outdoor world. Yesterday Stuart, a popular and experienced CMC leader, led an 8-mile hike on new trails in Bracken Mountain. Where did this new area come from?
A bit of history
Bracken Mountain, which adjoins Pisgah National Forest at the headwaters of Brushy Creek and Bracken Creek, was the site for the water supply for Brevard.
But as the town grew, this source became inadequate by 1979. Though the town considered selling the land to developers, it held onto the property for a long time. Sometimes indecision is good.
In 2005, the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund awarded the City of Brevard a $1.04 million grant for a permanent conservation easement on the Bracken Mountain Property. A conservation easement means that future Brevard legislators cannot decide to sell the land.
The town then went to work on building trails. Unlike Carolina Mountain Club’s maintenance crew that does everything by hand, the town hired trail builders who used a ditchwitch to cut through the land. They also built a parking lot and opened the trails to public use this past summer (July 2012).
On rereading, using a ditchwitch sounds kind of destructive. But when we hiked it, the trails looked smooth and well-maintained. The area attracts mountain bikers who seemed to negotiate the curves well.
About 8 miles of trail has been built, blazed and mapped. Using the trails in Bracken Mountain, you can walk from downtown Brevard to Pisgah Forest. We walked on a combination of trails and had lunch at the top of the property – see the picture above.
Mountain laurels thrived at the top (about 3,500 feet) and the woods were full of rhododendrons below.
So where is Bracken Mountain? You get there by going past the Brevard Music Center and up the hill to park. An information board shows a map and the rules. It’s a great new place to hike in the winter.
This is another example of small towns saving their old watersheds by placing them in a conservation easement. Brevard, thank you for thinking ahead.