Wilderness conservation in Western North Carolina got a major boost in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act. The landmark legislation initially protected 9.1 million acres from development, including Linville Gorge and Shining Rock Wilderness.
“Both of these areas were preserved for their scenic value and unique features, and are visited by countless tourists each year,” says Brent Martin, Southern Appalachian regional director of The Wilderness Society. Fifty years after the passage of the Act, WNC boasts 65,000 of the nation’s 110 million protected wilderness acres, now including the Southern Nantahala Wilderness and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness.
Sassafrass Falls & Big Snowbird Trail Hike
May 10 | Robbinsville
Join partners of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness on this 7-mile, easy-to-moderate hike past Sassafras Falls and back along Big Snowbird Trail. Enjoy brief stops for trout fishing and lunch. Cheoah Ranger Station, 1070 Massey Branch Rd.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free; (828) 479-9008
Celebrating the Champions of Wilderness
May 30 | Asheville
Honor leaders past and present who have worked to preserve America’s wild lands. Mingle with representatives from a handful of wilderness organizations prior to a presentation at 5:30 p.m. led by keynote speaker Doug Scott, board chairman of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance. Pack’s Tavern,
20 S. Spruce St.; Friday, 3-8 p.m.; free
Carolina Mountain Club Camporee
May 30-June 1 | Robbinsville
The Carolina Mountain Club hosts a weekend of camping and hiking, plus a Saturday night barbecue dinner near Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Multiple hikes of varying difficulty depart both days. Rattler Ford Group Campground; Friday, 3 p.m.-Sunday afternoon; fees for campsite & barbecue; (864) 638-3686