Join the Western North Carolina Alliance and Ron Lance for a free winter plant hike at Little Bald Mountain at 10 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 22).
Lance is a native plant specialist who has more than 30 years of experience growing, studying and teaching about native plants. He’s written several guides and keys for Southeastern plants, including “The Woody Plants of the Blue Ridge,” “The Surveyor’s Guide to the Trees of North Carolina,” and his newest release, “Woody Plants of the Southeastern US – A Winter Guide.”
Lance will lead hikers to the trail junction that ascends to Little Bald Mountain, passing noteworthy examples of ailing American chestnut trees and interesting shrubs, such as the beaked hazelnut.
At the summit of Little Bald, hikers will pass through a dwarf beech forest and descend the oak/laurel-covered ridge southeasterly on the Pilot Rock Trail, which leads north to the Laurel Mountain Trail.
From there, we’ll hike the Laurel Mountain Trail back to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, along north-facing slopes rich in hardwood/rhododendron forests, rocks and seepages. We’ll also pass through aromatic patches of Galax and oak forests as we complete a 3.2 mile loop.
This trail has a variety of slope exposures, so participants should wear plenty of layers and sturdy footwear.
A carpool will be available from the Westgate parking lot near Earth Fare, leaving at 9:15 a.m. Hikers should pack their own water and lunch.
This hike is free, but those who want to participate should RSVP to WNCA Education and Outings Coordinator Isabelle Rios at (828) 258-8737, ext. 201 or Isabelle@WNCA.org