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Free Hike Open to the Public This Thursday at Grandfather Mountain State Park

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative is leading a hike on the Profile Trail in Grandfather Mountain State Park on Thursday, October 14 at 9 a.m.

The hike will begin at the Profile Trail parking area off of Highway 105 and wind its way up to Foscoe View through one of our hemlock conservation areas! The trail features hemlock trees right from the beginning, and we will pass through several large stands of hemlocks that are in great health and have been treated by HRI and State Park staff as recently as the fall of 2020.

The trail includes several creek crossings and follows close to the Watauga River before turning south and climbing to Foscoe View with overlooks popping up throughout, allowing for views of the valley below. Foscoe View overlooks the community of Foscoe and has an interpretive sign showing various viewpoints and mountain peaks as well as some of the local ecology.

At Foscoe View, we will turn around and descend back the same way to reach the parking area. The trek out to Foscoe View and back is roughly 4 miles roundtrip with about 700 feet of elevation gain. During the hike, participants can expect to learn about hemlocks, how to identify them, their ecosystem impacts, the threats they face, control strategies, and more! We will take a lunch break during the hike and will likely finish around 3 p.m., so please bring lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.

If participants want to continue the hike on their own from Foscoe View, we welcome them to do so. The Profile Trail officially ends at Calloway Gap where hikers can head either east toward Calloway Peak or west toward the infamous swinging bridge at the top of Grandfather Mountain. Note that the trail gets markedly more strenuous after Foscoe View and anyone continuing on should be ready for steep gradients, rock scrambling, and the use of ladders.

This hike is a great opportunity to learn about hemlock conservation in the region and see the natural and recreational value that hemlocks provide. Early fall is also a great time to hike this trail, with the chance of seeing leaves at or near their peak colors. This also means that the parking area could be crowded due to increased visitation to the region during this time, but our early start time should help us miss the times of highest traffic. Our backup date for the hike is Thursday, October 21, 2021 in case of poor weather.

Please RSVP to Aaron Whittemore at [email protected] or call (828)-252-4783. Please include a contact phone number and email address when you sign up.

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative is grateful to be able to offer educational programs in this difficult time. 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, we requiring that all participants follow HRI’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Anyone not following the guidelines on the day of the event will be asked to leave. Despite taking precautions, we cannot eliminate all risk of exposure and participants will be accepting some level of risk by choosing to attend. Please review the COVID-19 safety guidelines on our website to ensure that you are comfortable following these guidelines. Note: these guidelines may adjust depending on changing guidance from health authorities.