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Naturalist Weekend at Grandfather Mountain May 11-13

A Naturalist Weekend participant stops along the Extension Trail to locate a nearby bird. The 2012 Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Weekend is May 11-13 and offers participants a range of activities such as guided hikes, birding opportunities, workshops on the Mountain's habitat animals, cultural walks and much more. Photo by Carly Fleming/GMSF

May 7, 2012. GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, NC — The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is hosting its annual Naturalist Weekend May 11-13.  This weekend provides guests with an in-depth look at the diversity found in the mountain’s ecological communities through guided hikes and workshops.

The weekend starts off Friday with the all-day Grandfather Spring Bird Count.  During the bird count, visitors will be birding at various locations around Grandfather Mountain, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain State Park. That evening, guests will be guided throughout the park looking and listening for Grandfather’s native nocturnal animals in the Owl Prowl. Space for both of Friday’s programs is limited and reservations are necessary.

“The Owl Prowl is one of the neatest events on the Mountain.  We go to the top, discuss natural history, play owl calls and wait for the owls to return them.” said Katie Gray, chief naturalist at the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Saturday’s busy schedule begins with a 9:30 a.m. Wildflower Hike and a “Birds of Prey” program at 11 a.m.  Naturalist Weekend continues in the afternoon with a “Crayfish Research Project” at 1 p.m. offering participants an introduction to the project and an up-close look at some of Grandfather’s crayfish.

At 2 p.m., a Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation Interpretive Ranger leads guests on the “Nature on the Edge Hike.”  This trek will follow the Extension Trail loop, starting and ending at the Black Rock Parking Area.  This moderately strenuous hike focuses on the transition of habitats from the Mountain’s flanks to ridgeline.  Space for this hike is limited and reservations are necessary.

Another plant-themed hike begins at 4 p.m. called “Trees and Shrubs of the Southern Appalachians.”  This moderately strenuous hike focuses on the native trees and shrubs on Grandfather Mountain.  This hike begins and ends at the Extension Trailhead next to the Black Rock Parking area.

Sunday’s schedule begins at 7:30 a.m. with a Birding Hike on the Profile Trail in Grandfather Mountain State Park.  “Geology of Grandfather,” a hike focusing on the unique geology of Grandfather Mountain begins at 10 a.m.

A “NASA Climate Workshop” begins at 11 a.m. and a “Habitat Animal Training” program at 1 p.m.  A “Tracking Animals” guided walk takes place at 2 p.m. and focuses on tracks and signs of animals.  The weekend will come to a close with a “Cultural Walk” at 3 p.m. followed by a “Diseases on Trees and Local Plants” program at 4 p.m. 

For more information about Grandfather’s Naturalist Weekend or to make reservations for the Owl Prowl or “Nature on the Edge Hike” please call 828-733-4326.  To make reservations for the Spring Bird Count please call 828-733-3224.  For a complete schedule of the Naturalist Weekend events, please visit www.grandfather.com.

All programs and guided walks offered as part of the Naturalist Weekend are included in the regular price of admission. Those who attend for more than one day should keep their receipt from their first visit and present that for discount admission the following day.

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests, and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.  For more information, visit www.grandfather.com or call 800-468-7325.