Hike, Paddle, and Explore Historic Places with WNCHA

While lectures, documentaries, and books are fantastic, sometimes the best way to learn is to see and experience the places we discuss. Partnering with local historians and researchers, WNCHA frequently leads outdoor hikes (and occasional paddles) to and along historic places and routes within western North Carolina. These range from easy, 2-mile walks to strenuous 6+ mile hikes. These programs include forests, cemeteries, forgotten roads, high peaks, storied rivers and more! We often follow our book or lecture events with these outdoor excursions, giving guests and members opportunities to explore subjects in multiple ways. We hope to see you at these outings!

Prices vary for these events (paddles may cost more) with WNCHA members receiving discounted rates. No-cost community funded tickets are also available thanks to donations. 

See our event calendar for more specifics and registration links.

What To Expect:

  • Outings are led by a guest historian/speaker or the WNCHA public programs director.
  • Participants are asked to fill out a liability waiver and provide emergency contact information.
  • Outings sometimes require cooperative shuttling in vehicles.
  • Groups abide by Covid-19 precautions including masks and social distancing as much as possible.
  • We love pets, but not all events allow for them.
  • Occasionally parking arrangements and dates change due to weather or other factors. We stay in contact with registrants and notify them of any changes prior to the event.

Past Programs Gallery

Hickory Nut Gap Hike                                                           May 22, 2021

In this special hike, we partnered with Conserving Carolina, a local land trust, who allowed us to use a special section of their trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge leading up to the beautiful Blue Ridge Pastures. WNCHA Public Programs Director Trevor Freeman interpreted the natural and cultural history of this famous gorge, exploring Native Americans, early white settlers, slavery, tourism, livestock drovers, and the incarcerated laborers who constructed the winding road. The hike was strenuous, but the views were well worth it. 

 

RAIL Hike on the Point Lookout Greenway

Sat/Sun April 17&18, 2021

In two hikes along the Point Lookout Greenway, historian Dan Pierce and Marion Mayor Steve Little interpreted the history of the Western Carolina Railroad and the incarcerated larborers who toiled to complete the winding loops leading to the Swannanoa Tunnel. Both men are part of the RAIL Memorial Project raising funds to erect a monument to those predominantly African American laborers at nearby Andrews Geyser. 

DuPont Forest Hike with Danny Bernstein

March 20, 2021

Author and hike Danny Bernstein, who literally wrote the book on DuPont State Recreational Forest, led participants on a 7-mile hike along the cutovers, creeks, waterfalls, and numerous lakes of this special place. We saw three lakes, the spectacular Bridal Veil Falls, and the abandoned airstrip as Danny discussed the people who both created and saved this popular area of public land. 

French Broad Paddle with Montreat College

September 12, 2020

We paddled 7 miles along the French Broad, from the mouth of the Swannanoa, through the River Arts District, and finished at Woodfin. We passed several historic bridges and discussed Cherokee names, settlement, industry, floods, and the long-gone Riverside Park. Montreat College graciously provided canoes for our guests.