HRI will be celebrating the arrival of spring on April 6th by hiking the Pink Beds trail through fields of wildflowers and under the shade of hemlocks. The hemlock conservation area here in Pisgah National Forest was established several years ago by the USDA Forest Service. The hike will start at the Pink Beds picnic area which has a few prominent, healthy hemlocks around the edges of the field – an ideal place to discuss hemlock identification and the positive impact they have on our recreation areas.

As we hike down the trail, we’ll see a hemlock health monitoring plot where we’ll discuss how forest managers might make decisions on how best to protect their trees and how different management strategies can be integrated into a conservation plan. Not far away, we’ll also see some of the casualties of the hemlock woolly adelgid and learn about how hemlocks are impacted and the effect their loss can have on the ecosystem.

Two trees in a hemlock health monitoring plot

The hike also features a recent prescribed burn, giving us a unique opportunity to see another forest management practice at work. We may visit a few hemlocks within that burned area to talk about fire ecology, its important role in the landscape, and how hemlocks respond to a burn. The hike also features a few non-hemlock highlights including an abundance of wildflowers and a boardwalk that crosses through some mountain bog habitat, recently altered by another partner in natural resource management: beavers.

A trail-side trout lily

The hike is a mostly flat 5.5 mile loop with a few creek crossings and one short climb. We will stop for lunch on the hike, so please bring food, snacks, and plenty of water. We will meet in the Pink Beds parking lot at 9:00 am. RSVP required by Friday, April 2nd to Ben Chase at or call (828)-252-4783. Please include contact phone number and email address when you sign up.

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.