Please join us on Saturday, February 17th at 10:00 am for an educational hemlock hike with the Hemlock Restoration Initiative at Cat Gap Loop and John Rock Trail in Pisgah National Forest. The hike is about 5.25 miles total and consists of the John Rock Trail and a portion of the Cat Gap Loop. There will be an elevation gain of almost 1300 feet over the first 2.5-3 miles before descending back down to the parking lot for the last half of the hike. This hike may be long, but the views, the rivers, and of course the hemlocks, will make it well worth your while!

The route first parallels Cedar Rock Creek, passing Cedar Rock Falls before traversing through the middle of an eastern hemlock stand, recently re-treated by HRI and USFS Job Corps students. It then passes through a Carolina hemlock stand and an overlook on top of John Rock, that was also recently treated by a few HRI staff and students. HRI staff will focus on talking about the differences between the eastern and Carolina species since it is a very special opportunity to be able to see both a Carolina hemlock stand and an eastern hemlock stand in the same day! We will cover the ecological importance of both focusing on hydrology, what is threatening both species, what is being done about it, and more.

We’ll depart from the Bobby M. Setzer Fish Hatchery which is also the location of the currently closed Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. More information about the meeting location and what to bring will be provided after registering.

For any questions or to register, contact Caroline Lord at or 828-252-4783. While the hike is free to attend, your RSVP is required. Please sign up by Wednesday, February 14th. Please include contact phone number, email address, and emergency contact when you sign up.

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative is grateful to be able to offer public events in this difficult time. Despite the lifting of restrictions, we acknowledge the risk that COVID-19 continues to pose to members of our community. To maintain the safety of our event participants and staff, we are requiring that all participants follow HRI’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Anyone not following the guidelines on the day of the event will be asked to leave. Despite taking precautions, we cannot eliminate all risk of exposure and participants will be accepting some level of risk by choosing to attend. Please review the COVID-19 safety guidelines on our website to ensure that you are comfortable following these guidelines. Note: these guidelines may adjust depending on changing guidance from health authorities.