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 8-November 5, 2017
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 saw mill, 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 new 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 fire fighting 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 about the natural world.
Find the only restaurant in this popular section of Pisgah National Forest! The Café at the Cradle has a new menu of great sandwiches, soups and salads, open 11 AM-3 PM. Dine indoors or outside on the porch surrounded by the forest. Also new are 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 mid April through early November, daily 9 AM- 5 PM
- Admission: $5/person ($2 admission on Tuesdays), always free for ages 15 and under
- Information desk: 828-877-3130
Looking for guided tours? Check out their Pisgah Field School.
2017 Calendar of Events
- April 8: 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!
- April 29: International Migratory Bird Day Celebration - Guided walks, birding tips, bird watching, more.
- May 6: Garden Day - Learn longtime gardening techniques, visit the monarch waystation, and get your hands dirty.
- May 20: Pink Beds BioBlitz - Work alongside professional scientists, professors and naturalists to take photos and record observations of every species that you find. 6:30 AM-10 PM
- June 10: National Get Outdoors Day - Free Admission
- June 17: Firefly Twilight Tour - Enjoy the magical evening forest and learn about these fascinating "lightning bugs". Park and meet at the Pink Beds Picnic Area on Hwy. 276, located next to the Cradle of Forestry. 7:30-9:30 PM. $6/adult
- June 24: Bug Day & National Pollinator Week
- Sundays in July: Songcatchers Music Series - Traditional mountain music and the talented performers. 4-5:30 PM
- July 22: Train History Day
- August 12: (New!) May the Forest Be With You - Special activities and artisans who highlight forest products and uses.
- September 17: Bring Back the Monarchs!
- September 23: Afternoon Tea With Llamas
- September 30: National Public Lands Day, Free admission
- October 7: Forest Festival Day & John G. Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen's - Meet traditional craftsmen, exhibitors, forestry students, and entertainers gathering to celebrate our forests.
- October 14: Camping in the Old Style
- October 20 & 21: The Legend of Tommy Hodges Outdoor Drama
- November 5: Closing Day
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 for 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.”