Conserving Carolina has temporarily closed four trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge, due to overcrowding. The extremely high levels of visitors pose an increased risk of transmission of the coranavirus, at a time when public health must be our first priority. In addition, overcrowding damages the trails and surrounding natural areas, which are treasures to be safeguarded for people to enjoy long after the current public health crisis has passed.
The trail areas that are now closed include: Bearwallow Mountain Trail, Trombatore Trail, the Florence Nature Preserve trail system, and Wildcat Rock Trail. These trails and their parking areas will remain closed until further notice.
Trails Director Peter Barr says, “It is with the greatest reluctance that we have decided to close our trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge, in order to protect public health and the trails themselves. We appreciate that people are turning to nature in order to get through a challenging time. However, with so many other activities closed to the public, we were seeing highly unsafe levels of crowding at our trails. We look forward to reopening the trails as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so.”
Conserving Carolina’s decision follows the closure of other public lands, including DuPont State Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Conserving Carolina’s executive director, Kieran Roe, says, “One thing that this public health crisis has made very clear is that people love our trails and natural areas—and we need to provide more places for people to get outside. People turn to nature for peace of mind, for exercise, as a place to connect with loved ones, and a place to experience beauty and wonder. While we are temporarily closing these trails, we are also actively working to provide more parks, trails, and greenways for our communities.”
Conserving Carolina is currently building 7.5 miles of new trails as part of an ambitious vision of a 130-mile trail network in the Hickory Nut Gorge. Conserving Carolina is also working to advance five potential new greenways, including the proposed 18-mile Ecusta Trail between Hendersonville and Brevard.
Conserving Carolina is a local land trust that has protected over 45,000 acres, primarily in Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, and Rutherford Counties in N.C. and the Landrum, S.C. area. The mission of Conserving Carolina is to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of nature. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org.