Tag Archives: Carolina Mountain Club

Asheville Greenways – present and future

Sulphur Springs

Today’s Carolina Mountain Club hike was billed as an almost flat, almost seven-mile hike. It barely seemed worthwhile to put on your hiking boots. But it promised a walk through current and future greenways. I was curious, so I put on my boots – low boots.

Marcia Bromberg, former CMC president, is very active in Friends of Connect Buncombe, the Buncombe County Greenway movement. Unlike hiking trails, greenways connect people to places they might want to walk or bike to. In Buncombe County, at least, the goal is to pave greenways, allowing more people to use them. They have a long way to go.

We started our walk in front of the remains of Sulphur Springs. What was a tourist attraction in the 19th century is now just a concrete pavilion around the well. The pictures may look unexciting and brown but we’re in the January thaw.

Opposite there’s a right-of-way through a private tract owned by the Myrtle Vrabel Estate. Vrabel, who died in 2007, owned a tract of land which is still laying dormant through Canie Creek ten years later.

Brother Hug and Marcia

I learned all of this from Doug Barlow, known as Brother Hug, a community organizer in the Canie Creek area.

He and other activists are working to get Riverlink, a conservancy, to buy the land from the estate, so it can be preserved and saved from development. To my untrained eyes, the land in a floodplain can’t be worth very much.

We walked through the Hominy Creek Greenway, which is an official greenway with maps and plans. It even has a beach – see the photo above dubbed the West Asheville beach.

Then to Carrier park and the French Broad River Park. The Asheville Camino used some of the same route, though of course, the Camino hike is over sixteen miles.

But honestly, it was difficult to figure out where one greenway or proposed greenway started and another ended. Buncombe County has approved a master plan for greenways, so this is a big, big important step in the future of greenways in our area.

In the meantime, we can study the greenway map, support the Friends group and most importantly walk or bike the greenway.

Thanks to Marcia and Brother Hug for leading the hike and making the Buncombe Greenways come alive.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail book is back

Look what I just received in my inbox from Amazon –

MST guide front coverBased on your recent activity, we thought you might be interested in this.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Mountains-To-Sea Trail: Profiles and Maps from the Great Smokies to Mount Mitchell and Beyond
by Walt Weber

Price: $14.95

This is the second edition, now in color, of the popular guide to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) in Western North Carolina. It includes topographical maps and trail elevation profiles, making it easy to … Read More

And they’re right. I am interested in this book and already have a copy.

The book details the 140 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from Fork Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Black Mountain Campground. Carolina Mountain Club has maintained these 140 miles for a long time. Now our maintenance responsibilities have been extended to Heintooga Rd.

Mileage to Folk Art Center
Mileage to Folk Art Center

The book has been the standard for MST guides.  It has detailed color maps and Walt Weber’s lively discussion of the history along the trail. Hikers have credited finding the book as their way into hiking in the Western North Carolina Mountains and Carolina Mountain Club.

Trail runners use the book to discover MST sections that they might want to run. Altitude gain and losses are more important to runners than to hikers.

This copy is new in several ways.

All trail distances and elevations have been rechecked since the first edition using a combination of GPS technology, a measuring wheel, and altimeter readings.

Just as important, CMC has retrieved control over the book. After a stint with a local publisher who couldn’t keep the book in print, CMC is again the publisher. Lenny Bernstein spent countless hours with Doug Gibson, a local book designer. He then dealt with all the stuff needed to get the book printed and also online. Thank you, Lenny.

So you can get this new version locally at Diamond Brand Outdoors, Jus’ Running, and in the Blue Ridge Parkway stores. Les Love, a CMC member, is our informal distributor. Thanks to Les for getting the book in stores.

And yes, it’s available on Amazon. And wherever you bought the book, please put a review on Amazon. Thank you!

Waterrock Knob Celebration with Carolina Mountain Club

National Trails Day – 2016 – was a big day for Carolina Mountain Club and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

At Piet's Bench
At Piet’s Bench

We assembled at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a day of hiking, trail maintaining and most important, celebration. We celebrated the official opening of twenty miles of MST trail west of Balsam Gap.

‎Before the celebration ceremony, CMC did what it does best – hike and maintain trail. About 30 volunteers, led by Les Love, walked up to Waterrock Knob to work on the Parkway trail for the morning. Meanwhile, I led a large group of hikers from Waterrock Knob to Soco Gap – 4.2 miles – all downhill to show off a new section of trail.

When we all came back to the parking lot, there was a large event tent and chairs set up and waiting for the speeches to start. North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation hosted the festivities. REI/Asheville had set up a refreshment tent with wonderful desserts, and cake. What’s a celebration without cake!

Speakers at NTD 2016
Speakers at NTD 2016

The lineup of speakers, as they are in the photo, was impressive:

Scott Crocker, Superintendent of State Trails, NC Division of Parks and Recreation
Brian Strong, Chief of Planning and Natural Resources at NC Division of Parks and Recreation
Mark Woods, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Steve Metcalf, President of the Board of Friends of the MST
Larry Blythe, Former Vice Chief of Eastern Band of Cherokee
Barbara Morgan, President of Carolina Mountain Club

Brian Strong, the emcee, presented each speaker with a plaque.

The theme of all the remarks was similar:

This was a partnership of so many agencies and groups. CMC built the trail on what is probably the most challenging section of the MST. Waterrock Knob – the name accurately describes the terrain, full of rocks, water, roots, and sheer rock face. As Steve Metcalf said:
“We know there wouldn’t be an MST without CMC.”

Larry Blythe was instrumental in encouraging the Cherokee Council to allow the MST to go through Cherokee land. By using logging roads, they felt that it wouldn’t affect the residents in Cherokee.

WaterrockKnob steps
WaterrockKnob steps

Barbara Morgan pointed out that CMC has more volunteer hours than any other group on the Parkway. CMC also has more volunteers hours than any other task force on the MST, as well.

“No mechanized equipment other than chain saws was used,” Morgan said.

Superintendent Mark Woods remembered the contributions of Allen de Hart, the granddaddy of the MST and one of the first two people to hike the whole trail in 1996. Woods quoted the NPS Mission Statement.

“We’re in the Futures Business,” Woods said.
And after that, we hiked of course. Barbara Morgan led us down the MST to Fork Ridge Overlook to see more new trail.

Thank you to all. But the work isn’t done. CMC still has to maintain all the trails it builds. So there’s plenty of volunteer opportunities for all of us.