Cradle of Forestry


When George W. Vanderbilt arrived in western North Carolina in the late 1800s to build his grandiose Biltmore Estate, he had visions even grander than erecting the largest private home in America. Vanderbilt wanted a working estate, one with farms and forests that paid for themselves and were managed responsibly. He hired Gifford Pinchot as Biltmore’s first forester and eventually purchased some 125,000 acres of land southwest of Asheville, which he called Pisgah Forest. In 1895, German forester Dr. Carl Alvin Schenck took Pinchot’s place and founded Biltmore Forest School, the nation’s first school of forestry.

Start out on U.S. 276 north of Brevard. From the intersection with Forest Road 475, head north on U.S. 276. Drive 24 miles, then turn left onto NC 215 south. Drive 26 miles, then turn left onto County Road 1321. Drive 2 miles and bear left onto Forest Road 475. Follow it 7 miles to complete the loop. (58 miles)

Located beside the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway a few miles north of Brevard, Looking Glass Falls is among the more popular attractions in Pisgah National Forest.

One of many projects completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, this handsome bridge crosses Looking Glass Creek in Pisgah National Forest.

Much of our route passes through Vanderbilt’s forest, now a part of Pisgah National Forest. The land encircled by our broad loop provides arguably the finest outdoor recreation opportunities of any area of comparable size in the southern Appalachians, if not the entire East. The region features hundreds of waterfalls, the wildly popular Shining Rock Wilderness Area, hundreds of miles of exceptional hiking trails and trout streams, challenging rock climbing, and some of the finest scenery in the state. Bisecting the loop is the Blue Ridge Parkway (see Route 8), which provides easy access to many of these features. Perhaps the best attribute of this route is its diversity. Windshield tourists will find new sights around every curve, while those who get out of their cars and put one foot in front of the other will discover unlimited opportunities for adventure. Regardless of your interest, your best first stop is the ranger station on U.S. Highway 276, a few miles north of Brevard. Here, you can pick up maps and guidebooks and get answers from a real person.

Denuded mountain slopes characterized the logging boom town of Sunburst in 1912. A dense forest covers the site today, which lies within Pisgah National Forest. Herbert W.

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