On May 6th, join HRI for a hike-and-bike through a hemlock conservation area established by the USDA Forest Service in Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort. The hike will start at the Old Fort Picnic Area which features a number of large, healthy eastern hemlock trees and will climb up to Kitsuma Peak to a mature stand of Carolina hemlocks treated by the USDA Forest Service. Along the way, we’ll discuss the role of hemlocks in the forest, the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and its impact, and control strategies. We will travel through a few forest types to compare hemlocks in different stages of health and discuss ecological succession following disturbances from invasive species. The hike also features a hemlock impact monitoring plot, giving us the opportunity to discuss active hemlock research and the integration of biological controls into a management plan on a local and regional level.

Carolina Hemlocks overhanging the trail

If you’ve never hiked with us before, this is a great opportunity to learn about hemlock conservation in the region and see both species in their natural environment. If you’ve participated in an event with us in the past, this hike will be good illustration of what years of HWA management can accomplish and showcase some of the beautiful Carolina hemlock stands in Buncombe County. We may also see some reishi mushrooms and spectacular views with good weather.

The Kitsuma Peak hike is a strenuous 4.5 mile hike that gradually climbs to the peak and rapidly descends. We will bike 3 to 4 miles down a paved greenway that leads back to the Old Fort Picnic Area. The ride is almost entirely downhill and will provide some great views of the ridge we hiked along. Any hikers choosing to hike the trail as an out-and-back instead of biking will be able to turn around and leave the guided hike at any time. The hike leader will identify the last interpretive stop to skip the steepest part of the trail without missing any points of interest.  Participants may also stage a car to use as a shuttle if they are traveling with another person and wish to eliminate the second half of the trip.

Eastern hemlocks in the Old Fort Picnic Area

We will stage the bikes at the Ridgecrest parking lot at 10:00 am and meet at the Old Fort Picnic area to start the hike at 10:30. Participants wanting to bike will need to bring their own. RSVP by April 29th to Ben Chase at volunteer@savehemlocksnc.org or calling (828) 252-4783. Please include a contact phone number and email address and the number and names of the people in your party.

 

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative is restarting our educational programs and volunteer events. 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, HRI is limiting the number of participants at all events and requiring that all individuals follow HRI’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. This means that sign-ups will be held on a first-come-first-served basis. Anyone not following the guidelines on the day of the event will be asked to leave. Please review the COVID-19 safety guidelines to ensure that you are comfortable following these guidelines. Please also let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to attend an event for which you are registered so that we may allow someone else to fill your spot. Despite taking precautions, we cannot eliminate all risk of exposure and participants will be accepting some level of risk by choosing to attend.