Since 1994, Conserving Carolina (formerly Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Pacolet Area Conservancy) has conserved more than 44,000 acres in Henderson, Transylvania, Polk and surrounding counties near Asheville in western North Carolina. This non-profit partners with landowners and organizations to protect land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life. Dedicated to saving the natural beauty we love and enjoy, Conserving Carolina works to permanently conserve and actively care for an ever-growing regional network of significant farm, forest, park and natural lands. Currently, there are than 150 projects are under their care. They are a beneficiary of our 2019 Giving Calendar.
The three major areas for current projects efforts are:
- DuPont State Recreational Forest and the Upper Green River Watershed: Connects watersheds and wildlife protection corridors from DuPont State Forest to the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in the foothills of South Carolina with more than 100,000 acres of contiguous green space.
- Hickory Nut Gorge and Chimney Rock State Park: This area possesses some of the richest biodiversity in the nation with cliffs, forests, breathtaking views, streams and waterfalls and several species of migrating birds.
- Upper French Broad River Watershed: Protects water quality and preserves farms and forests that buffers Pisgah National Forest.
- Headwaters State Forest: Thanks for efforts of Conserving Carolina, this new state forest was created to protect 5,700 acres of streams, waterfalls and mountain bogs. See East Fork Falls with a short walk from the road.
Part of the conservancy mission involves creating trails in preserved lands for all to explore. Three of our favorite hikes are thanks to them, Bearwallow Mountain, Little Bearwallow and Trombatore (see below). These trails are part of a 15-mile loop trail under construction through the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge that includes their 600-acre Florence Nature Preserve.
Hike & Bike
For enjoy a sampling of their great work, explore one of these three areas near Asheville:
- Weed Patch Trail to Eagle Rock: This 8.5-mile trail opened in Spring 2018, starting at Buffalo Creek Park on Lake Lure and climbs the Hickory Nut Gorge Rim to Eagle Rock. It's designed for triple use: hiking, biking and rock climbing. Read more.
- Bearwallow Mountain: Hike the two-mile roundtrip to the top of this bald with wildflowers and grazing cattle. Conserving Carolina preserved this land in 2009. Read more!
- Trombatore Trail: Hike to Blue Ridge Pastures with panoramic views on a 2.5-mile trail that was built in 2014. Since the trailhead parking is the same for Bearwallow, you can combine the hikes for a strenuous 7-mile trek! Read more!
- Alexander's Ford: Walk a section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, following the route used by 1,800 patriot militia during the Revolutionary War in 1780. This 1.5-mile easy hiking trail ends at the Green River. Read more.
- Wildcat Rock Trail: This trail opened in 2017. The challenging 3-mile hike has 1,800 feet of elevation gain with a 100-foot waterfall, Wildcat Rock with panoramic views and serene pastureland at the end at Little Bearwallow Mountain. This trail will be extended soon to the top of Bearwallow Mountain. Read more.
- Buffalo Creek: Hike or bike the 3.5-loop trail in Lake Lure. Conserving Carolina worked with the town of Lake Lure to create the Buffalo Creek Park. Conserving Carolina protects the 200-acre park with a permanent conservation easement. Read more in our Lake Lure Guide.
Conserving Carolina's staff, board, volunteers, supporters and advocates work tirelessly to establish and enhance conservation opportunities and incentives for landowners, thereby offsetting the threat of poorly planned development and land management. Their mission is to:
- Protect forested wilderness, working farms, clean drinking water, trout streams, wildlife habitat and sweeping views.
- Partner with private landowners, community visionaries, and estate management professionals, to conserve land and maximize financial benefits through the use of voluntary land protection agreements, land donations and purchases.
- Monitor protected properties to ensure that the conservation values of the land are forever maintained.
- Provide technical resources that help landowners tailor conservation easements that suit individual needs.
- Raise awareness about the importance of land conservation for future generations.
With the help of many volunteers, including the Youth Conservation Corps from North Carolina and Vermont, most of the trail construction is sustainably built both in materials and finances.
Donate or Volunteer
As a donor to Conserving Carolina, you will automatically receive an annual membership that includes your entire household when your gift is $60 or more. There are many more options for donating. Please support their great work! Go to their Web site to join or donate online. Also, you can join their 400+ volunteers that help in a big variety of ways, including removal of invasive species, trail building, board support, special events, and more. They have many fun events throughout the year.