Whether you want to learn, play, have a picnic, see waterfalls, or hike, Pisgah has something for every member of the family. Graveyard Fields, the Pink Beds, and the Cradle of Forestry offer a wide variety of activities that are sure to please.
Established in 1916, Pisgah National Forest is the oldest National Forest in the East. The Forest is named for the Mount Pisgah peak inside it, which is named for the biblical peak of the same name from which Moses could see the Promised Land. The Pisgah Ranger District is the flagship district of the Forest and consists of over 160,000 acres of the most beautiful country in the world. Graveyard Fields, Pink Beds, and The Cradle of Forestry are within the Pisgah Ranger District.
Accessible from Mile Post 418.8, Graveyard Fields is an exceptionally popular area for hikers and campers. It is an upland heath with a gorgeous watercourse and two notable waterfalls. The area was covered with trees early in the previous century, but a fire devastated them, leaving blackened trunks resembling tombstones-hence the name. The entire valley reminds me of the Rockies. I assume others have felt the same way as the watercourse is named Yellowstone Prong. Prong is an unusual term for the area, reminiscent of the West. Graveyard Fields is a treat, and you should plan to spend some time here. In addition to hiking, there is Yellowstone Prong, which features large boulders to clamber around on or rock-hop. It is also a nice, cool place to play in the water. If you’re only going to do one thing here, take the short hike to Lower Falls (a.k.a. Second Falls).
Pink Beds gets its name for the plethora of pink flowers in season from grand swathes of mountain laurel and rhododendron. It has a wide cleared area with picnic tables (some sheltered) that is great for picnics and get-togethers. It is also great for Frisbee, soccer, and similar activities. There is an easy loop hiking trail suitable for all ages and abilities featuring beautiful streams, open mountain meadows, and a large beaver pond.
Cradle of Forestry
Literally right beside Pink Beds is The Cradle of Forest in America, the first forestry school in the States. This attraction contains a number of easy hiking trails, a museum, a railroad locomotive, and historic buildings. There is a café, or you can pack a picnic lunch and eat it on the grounds. Check their calendar for seasonal events such as the popular “Legend of Tommy Hodges” outdoor drama. You don’t want to miss this area and combine learning and fun. There is a nominal entrance fee-well worth the price.
Visit the general Pisgah Ranger District website at www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48114 (this page sometimes loads slowly). The Cradle of Forestry official website, http://www.cradleofforestry.com/site/, contains videos and pictures as well as an events calendar. Have fun!