Explore the beautiful grounds, top notch exhibits and historic buildings of the first forestry school in America, located deep in Pisgah National Forest on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. It's just four miles from popular Sliding Rock. Cradle of Forestry was home to the Biltmore Forest School, founded in 1898. It's a fascinating place to explore with many things to do to learn about nature, culture and history of our mountains. And it's only four miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's open spring through fall. It's a photographer's dream!
Open April 6-November 10, 2019
Learn all about forestry and get a glimpse into life at the forestry school in the early 1900s via wonderfully restored buildings. There are three paved trails for easy hiking. In fact, this is our top pick for accessible trails for wheelchairs, strollers and scooters, making it easy for everyone to explore. Watch their new forestry documentary that aired on UNCTV.
The 1.3-mile Forest Festival Trail explores Dr. Schenck's forestry experiments, a portable sawmill and a logging locomotive that you can climb aboard. Extend the loop with the 1.3-mile Forest Discovery Trail for a total of 2.2 miles. It's on the NC Birding Trail, so a great spot for bird watching.
The one-mile Biltmore Campus Trail passes seven historical buildings, including a schoolhouse, commissary and student quarters.
Inside the Forest Discovery Center, watch the 26-minute documentary “First in Forestry-Carl Alwin Schenck and The Biltmore Forest School,” explore 15 hands-on exhibits, shop at the Giving Tree gift shop and get a great lunch at the Cafe at the Cradle.
Kids of all ages love to ride the firefighting helicopter simulator over a forest fire, then go underground and see which animals live under the forest floor. The Adventure Zone is a wonderful collection of hands-on activities (indoors and outdoors) designed to help children and adults with autism become active in the outdoors and gain a better understanding of the natural world.
Find the only restaurant in this popular section of Pisgah National Forest! The Café at the Cradle has great sandwiches, soups and salads, open 11 AM-3 PM. Dine indoors or outside on the porch surrounded by the forest. Get picnics to go! If you want to eat, just ask for a free "café pass."
Location, Hours & Admission
The Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site is located on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway (US Highway 276) near Brevard, about 40 miles from Asheville. Next door is the Pink Beds hike and picnic area. Nearby is Looking Glass Rock, Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls.
- From the Blue Ridge Parkway, take U.S. Highway 276 South at Milepost 412 for four miles. From Brevard, take US Highway 276 North about 15 miles.
- Open seven days during their season, 9 AM-5 PM
- Admission: $6 adults, $3 youth age 4-12. Special event admission is $10-$16/person. Half price for America the Beautiful passholders.
- Information desk: 828-877-3130
Looking for guided tours? Check out their Pisgah Field School.
Sampling of Events
- April 6, 2019: Opening Day: Old Time Folkways - Step back to the days of the Biltmore Forest School. Meet homesteaders David and Diane and their Percheron draft horses. Observe the horses plow the Cradle’s heritage garden and even take a turn at it yourself!
- May: In Search of the Blue Ghost fireflies - guided night tour. See dates - reserve in advance.
- June 8: National Get Outdoors Day - Free Admission
- September 21: National Public Lands Day, Free admission
- October 5: Forest Festival Day & John G. Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen's lumberjack competition - Meet traditional craftsmen, exhibitors, forestry students and entertainers gathering to celebrate our forests. $10 Adult, $5 Youth 4-12
For more info, go to their Web site.
This area was once part of the vast Biltmore Estate, built by George W. Vanderbilt. In 1895, Vanderbilt hired German forester, Dr. Carl A. Schenck, introducing scientific management and practical forestry techniques for American forests still used today. In 1898, he opened the first forestry school in America. He is credited with transforming the woodlands into what we enjoy today as Pisgah National Forest. This 6,500-acre heritage site was created by Congress in 1968 to “preserve, develop and make available to this and future generations the birthplace of forestry and forestry education in America.”