Mountain Wildlife Days will bring a line-up of nature talks, wildlife programs and guided hikes to the Cashiers area on July 16 and 17.
The annual event attracts outdoors lovers from across the region. Friday has a series of three guided hikes, while Saturday’s lineup features nature experts and their live animals, from wolves to owls to reptiles.
A special program will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday called “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.” Rooted in the Caring for Creation philosophy, the multimedia presentation combines live music, inspirational narration and nature photography. A program for kids will be held simultaneously with a bonfire, singing and stories.
Hikes on Friday, July 16
• Granny Burrell Falls in Panthertown Valley. 3-mile hike led by Friends of Panthertown.
• Whiteside Mountain. Learn about the Cherokee history of the region when over 50 Cherokee towns and settlements were connected by a system of trails used for local trade and long-distance travel. Steep but rewarding climb involved to reach a rock outcrop overlooking the Cashiers Valley and headwaters region of the Chattooga River.
• Green Salamander Adventure. Join Wild South ecologists in search of the elusive, beautiful and endangered Green Salamander during a short exploration at Pleasant Grove and Heady Mountain.
All hikes depart at 10 a.m. from the Sapphire Valley Community Center. Bring lunch and water.
Programs on Saturday, July 17
• Get up close and personal with wolves. Meet the wolves of mountain man Rob Gudger and gain compassion and awareness for the plight of this misunderstood predator.
• Learn how to coexist with black bears with a program by the Appalachian Bear Rescue.
• Take flight with birds of prey. Eagles, hawks, owls and a variety of other birds will be shared by a ranger from Tennessee State Parks.
• Wildlife Warrior Steve O’Neil will have snakes, turtles and other reptiles on hand for his up-close presentation.
Saturday’s programs run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. There are exhibits and booths setup throughout the day.
The event is held at the Sapphire Valley Resort Community Center located 3 miles east of Cashiers off U.S. 64. It is organized each year by John Edwards, a Cashiers resident who loves wildlife, in conjunction with Wild South, and with support from the Sapphire Valley Master Association and Friends of Mountain Wildlife Days.
Saturday’s program is $7 for adults. The Friday evening program is $8. Children under 12 are free. Friday hikes are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance. www.wildsouth.org or 828.743.7663.