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Cradle of Forestry - The Birth of Forest Conservation
When in Rome, you go to the Colosseum. When in Asheville, you go to the Cradle of Forestry, or at least you should! Located in the beautiful and serene Pisgah National Forest, the Cradle of Forestry commemorates over 100 years of conservation and forestry efforts and history. The home of the first school of Forestry, the Pisgah National Forest was sold to the US government in 1910 by the late George Vanderbilt’s wife making it North Carolina’s oldest National Forest. George Vanderbilt also helped to found the Biltmore School of Forestry and provide the foundations for the US Forest Service. The Cradle of Forest not only has a museum, discovery center and restaurant on site, it has wonderfully restored historic buildings as well as a restored 1915 logging locomotive.
Location! Location! Location!
As you are driving through Pisgah, it will be obvious why this land was the site of the first forest conservation efforts. On the drive, you will pass roadside waterfalls that you can swim in like Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls, enjoy amazing river views and dense forest trails. There are ample places to picnic, swim, and tube for those really hot summer days so make sure you bring your swimsuit and a towel. If waterfalls and rivers are not your thing, you can enjoy horseback riding, camping or 500,000 acres worth of forest to discover via backpacking, biking and hiking trails.
A Walk in Their Shoes
Even if you are not a huge fan of the outdoors, the Cradle of Forestry is perfect for you! They have an indoor Forest Discovery Center and Adventure Zone (endorsed by The Autism Society of North Carolina & Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association) that is perfect for kids and adults. It includes sections about the history of the area and school, the future of forestry and many activities for both the old and young like a scavenger hunt, a helicopter simulator and a brand new movie 18 minute movie, “There’s Magic at the Cradle.
The trails at the Cradle are just long enough to get your exercise in but are absolutely perfect because they are paved. Those with younger children or the elderly can enjoy the walk through the woods and, unlike a lot of the trails in the mountains, it is relatively flat so even if you have someone with a walker, cane or wheelchair, they can easily enjoy the journey. There are 2 different trails for you to enjoy the Forest Festival Trail or the Biltmore Campus Trail.
The Forest Festival trail is about 1.3 miles long and takes you on a journey through different forest experiments. You can also learn about how the forest grows, why conservation is important and how people have traveled through the forest throughout history. You can even see a completely restored 1915 logging locomotive!
The Biltmore Campus Trail is about 1 mile long and explores the restored campus of the Biltmore Forestry School. You can wonder through buildings like the commissary, the student houses and the rebuilt school house.
Take Your Time!
The Cradle of Forestry can often be overlooked but plan to take at least a few hours to explore and enjoy the sights. It is a great place to spend time with your family and has a little bit of something for everyone. You can even plan to have lunch at the Hob Nob at the Cradle restaurant or pack your own picnic and enjoy the great outdoors. You may also want to bring a little bit of extra cash to use at the gift shop!
The Details – Directions, Admission & Hours
The Cradle of Forestry really allows you to enjoy, teach and learn about forest conservation and the history of the area. It makes for a perfect getaway from the city and is close enough to Asheville, NC or Greenville, SC to make the trip worth it.
The Cradle of Forestry is located off of Hwy. 276 near Brevard, NC and is open everyday beginning in April through November. Hours are from 9:00AM to 5:00PM EST.
Cost: $5/Person (Check Website for Free Admission Days and Special Events)
If you prefer to use your GPS to locate it, the coordinates are:
If you want to locate using Google Maps or another website or app, the physical address is:
11250 Pisgah Hwy
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
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