Cradle of Forestry, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and Lake Junaluska

Over the past couple of weeks, we have continued to explore the region near Black Mountain.  Recently, Alan hooked up with a plien air painting group for an outing one hour south of us, at a trail just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It turned out the spot they had chosen was not inspirational, so we headed toward Brevard, looking for that perfect painting site.  Driving in the early morning light along the Blue Ridge provided gorgeous overviews.

Exiting the Parkway at Hwy. 276, we drove into the Cradle of Forestry.  Located within Pisgah National Forest, the Cradle commemorates the beginning of forestry conservation in the U. S.  Beginning in 1889, George Vanderbilt purchased extensive lands near
Biltmore Forest School
Asheville for construction of the Biltmore Estate.  Prior to this, slash and burn forestry and agriculture had destroyed the forests and reduced nutrients in the soil for successful crop growth.  Vanderbilt hired Gifford Pinchot (later the first head of the USDA Forest Service) to manage his forest, followed by Dr. Carl Schenck.  With Vanderbilt's permission, Schenck started the Biltmore Forest School, a one-room log school and the first forestry school in the country.  His conservation techniques, along with Vandrbilt's support and the groundwork laid by Pinchot, restored the forest to their prior glory.  Visiting the Forest Discovery Center, provides a background to the work accomplished through hands-on exhibits.  Two short trails are available for further exploration, one leads visitors through the reconstructed Biltmore Campus and the other discusses Dr. Schenck's experiments and current forestry techniques.

Sliding Rock
Continuing toward Brevard, we made a stop at Sliding Rock.  This natural
rock formation provides a 60-foot slide through the water into a 50-60 degree, 7-foot pool at the end.  We had not packed bathing suits for our cool morning drive through the mountains, but would not have been tempted in any event.  Observation decks at two points allow non-sliding visitors to watch those that dare to enter the chilly water.  This is a popular attraction during the hot summer months, but even as we approach autumn, there was a line of children and adults waiting to take the plunge.
Looking Glass Falls

A little further down the road, we stopped for Looking Glass Falls.  Located next to the road, the upper level of this stop provides a view of the falls for all visitors, since the top landing is wheel-chair accessible.  The 60-foot falls are a popular stop because of their convenient location.  For a close-up view, there are steps leading down to the water.  A fisherman departing with a string of trout reported good fishing in the stream below the falls, but we hadn't come prepared with rods or licenses.

Lake Junaluska
Later in the week, we drove to Lake Junaluska, west of Asheville.  Though this is primarily a religious retreat, it is open to the public.  Alan set up his easel, to work on a watercolor, as I completed a 5-mile walk around 2 different lake trails.  Kayaking and fishing are also available on the lake, with big-mouthed bass and crappie being caught in the early morning or late afternoon.  Purchasing our N. C. fishing licenses this week, we will finally be able to take advantage of some of the many options.

American Goldfinch at the Lake

Forest Discovery Center
Historic Ranger's House at the Cradle
Looking Glass Creek
At Sliding Rock

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