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WNCHA Outdoor Experiences: The Buncombe Turnpike

08/07/2021 @ 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Ready to hit the old dusty trail and explore the history of the Buncombe Turnpike?

Join us Saturday, August 7 as special guest Lauren May of the Vance Birthplace State Historic Site partners with the Western North Carolina Historical Association to lead a hike in the historic Saluda Gap. This area was the southern terminus of the Buncombe Turnpike along the NC/SC border. The route ran north through this pass, predominantly along the French Broad River, to the NC/TN border, and was a vital transportation route for livestock drovers and early travelers. It also connects the history of both Vance Birthplace and the Smith-McDowell House where WNCHA is based.

The Hike:

Date: Sat, August 7


Distance: 2.2 miles

Location: Palmetto Trail – Saluda Mountains Passage -Talisman Camp Trailhead (Anders Rd, Zirconia, NC)

What to Bring: Mask, sturdy shoes or hiking boots, 16+ oz water, any snacks or medicines needed

Note: Parking is limited (8-10 cars) and we may contact participants to arrange carpooling depending on registration.

Covid Precautions:

Safety is the highest priority of this event. No hike is guaranteed to be safe, and no outing during Covid is either. To minimize risks, we will require participants to abide by these guidelines. Failure to adhere may result in cancellation or a participant being asked to leave.

  • Participants must sign a waiver in advance virtually via Google Forms: https://forms.gle/ytFcw27ytS2TUasGA
  • Nobody with visible symptoms will be allowed. Those who feel unwell or feel they may have been exposed are asked not to attend. Refunds are available.
  • Social distancing is encouraged while we hike.

Rain Date:

Unless the weather is heavily rainy or presents another severe challenge, the hike will proceed. If we have to reschedule, participants will be notified by phone/email by 8pm the evening prior, and a new date will be announced in short order.


Hike Leaders:

Lauren May currently serves as the assistant site manager at the Vance Birthplace, a state historic site in Weaverville, NC. In this role, Lauren is responsible for crafting education programs, caring for the site’s artifact collection, planning special events, and creating all social media content. This last responsibility places her firmly on the interpretive frontline, engaging with complex histories in a digital landscape. Before joining the staff at the Vance Birthplace, Lauren earned her MA in Public History from North Carolina State University and acquired over six years of experience interpreting North Carolina history at museums and historic sites.

Trevor Freeman is the public programs director for the Western North Carolina Historical Association. He is a native of Rutherford County and a proud alumnus of Appalachian State University. He also has an MA in American History from East Carolina University. He is especially interested in environmental and and American Revolutionary War history, and anything to do with western North Carolina.



Purchase Tickets Here

$10 for WNCHA members/ $20 for General Admission. We also have free, community funded tickets available. We want our events to be accessible to as many people as possible. If you are able please consider making a donation along with your ticket purchase. These donations are placed in our Community Fund, which allows us to offer tickets at no cost to those who would not be able to attend otherwise.

Questions/concerns? Email Trevor Freeman at [email protected]


10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
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Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)
View Organizer Website


Palmetto Trail
Anders Road
Zirconia, NC 28718 United States
+ Google Map