Experience Naturalist Weekend at Grandfather Mountain

Published Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

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May 14, 2014. The annual Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Weekend Returns May 16-18 offering an in-depth look at the Mountain’s plants, wildlife and history in fascinating programs spanning three days.

Guests can participate in guided hikes and workshops throughout the scenic attraction as well as Grandfather Mountain State Park.

“This is one of the best opportunities to explore Grandfather Mountain on a deeper, more hands-on level,” said Chief Naturalist Jillian Goodwin.

The weekend begins Friday with an all-day spring bird count hosted by High Country Audubon Society at various locations throughout the mountain.

As darkness falls at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, staff naturalists will lead a two-hour Owl Prowl to search for the nocturnal creatures.

Saturday’s events commence at 9:30 a.m. with a wildflower hike along the Profile Trail to marvel at the early springtime ephemerals.

Birds of prey, both common and endangered, visit the mountain at 11 a.m. on Saturday, courtesy of a special program the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College.

Appalachian State archaeology student Josh Goodwin presents his research of Native American life on Grandfather Mountain at 1 p.m. followed by a 2 p.m. Ridgeline Hike guided by Chief Interpretive Ranger John Caveny.

The Grandfather Mountain Habitat staff will offer a bear workshop at 3 p.m.m and the day concludes with a naturalist night walk at 7:30 p.m. to explore the forest without headlamps or flashlights.

Early birds can start their day at 7:30 p.m. Sunday with birding on the Profile Trail with educational specialist Mickey Shortt.

Activities continue on Sunday with kid-centric Forest Expeditions along the Woods Walk trail which will be “spiked” with artifacts at 10 a.m.

At 11 a.m., Director of Education Jesse Pope takes guests on a journey through time on the Black Rock Trail as he paints a picture of the Mountain through the eyes of some of history’s greatest explorers and naturalists.

The “Tree Facts and Folklore” program begins at 12:30 p.m. leading visitors through the Woods Walk while discussing trees of Southern Appalachia.

At 2 p.m., “Nature on Edge” invites guests to stroll to Linville Peak to identify plants and animals on the rock outcroppings and at 3 p.m. “Tracks and Signs” helps budding naturalists identify the telltale evidence animals leave behind.

The weekend concludes with a fascinating program titled “Squirrels: The Original Hoarders” that provides insights on the often-overlooked North Carolina state mammal.

Visitors also have ample opportunity throughout the weekend to explore the Mountain at their leisure. All activities are included free with park admission, but some require advanced registration. Visit www.Grandfather.com for more information and a full schedule.

Those who attend more than one day should keep their receipt from the first visit and present it upon their return for discounted admission the following day.

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest and participate in educational research activities.  For more information, call 800-468-7325 or plan a trip at www.grandfather.com.

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