Hike to Waynesville’s watershed

A birder, ecologist and forester will lead a guided fall hike through Waynesville’s 8,600-acre preserved watershed from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

Naturalist and birder Don Hendershot and Blair Ogburn of Balsam Mountain Trust will talk about the flora and fauna. Peter Bates of Western Carolina University’s forestry department will answer questions about the watershed property and forest management plan.

The 8,600-acre preserved tract is the source of Waynesville’s drinking water and is typically off limits to public recreation. The tract rises from Allens Creek in South Waynesville up the steep mountain slopes to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a total elevation gain of 3,000 feet to the 6,200 foot peak of Richland Balsam.

The creeks running through the watershed feed a 50-acre reservoir that provides water to 18,000 residents of the town of Waynesville and Haywood County. Participants must be able to hike downhill for 3 to 5 miles at a moderate pace. Hikers should bring rain gear, snacks, and birders should bring their binoculars. No pets allowed. These hikes have become increasingly popular, and advanced registration is required. 828.452.2491 or townofwaynesville.org.

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