The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry

Nestled in Pink Beds Valley is the Cradle of Forestry in America. This heritage site is the birthplace of science-based forest management.

George and Edith Vanderbilt of the nearby Biltmore Estate are accredited for this living legacy. Some 87,000 aces of the Vanderbilt’s “Pisgah Forest” tract became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest, established in 1916.

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This 6,500-acre heritage site in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina was created by Congress in 1968 to “preserve, develop, and make available to this and future generations the birthplace of forestry and forestry education in America.”

Today this North Carolina destination is jointly managed by the US Forest Service and the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association. The site is open to visitors everyday from mid-April to early November.

As you enter the main gate (4 miles off the Blue Ridge

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Parkway at Milepost 412) you are rewarded with the opportunity to explore the past, present, and future of environmental sustainability and stewardship. These are brought to visitors through paved interpretive trails, interactive exhibits, film, music, drama, guided tours, nature programs, craft demonstrations, and special events.

A sustainably designed Forest Discovery Center with its gift shop and café welcomes visitors to the historical structures and a relaxing walk through the woods.

Inside the Forest Discovery Center visitors can see our brand-new 26 minute movie, First in Forestry: Carl Schenck and the Biltmore Forest School (also available on YouTube), explore 15 hands-on exhibits, shop at the Giving Tree Gift Shop, or enjoy lunch at our Cradle Cafe’. The education wing offers two classrooms and a conference room, a perfect space for hosting meetings and workshops.

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The exhibit hall displays forest history through interactive displays, children’s games and much more. You’ll learn first-hand how the Biltmore Forest School came to pass and what life was like for a typical student.

Be sure to ride the fire fighting helicopter simulator over a forest fire, then go underground and see which animals live under the forest floor. Children will enjoy participating in a nature-based scavenger hunt and learn about life for our forest critter friends.

The Adventure Zone is a collective of hands-on indoor and outdoor activities that were designed to help children and adults with autism become active in the outdoors and gain a better understanding about the natural world. The Adventure Zone activities were created to be exciting for everyone! The maps and schedules are designed to make these fun activities accessible for people on the autism spectrum, but the Zone is open to anyone who is interested in experiencing fun in the great outdoors.

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Families who wish to participate in the Adventure Zone will find the map station to the left of the front entrance. The indoor portion of the Adventure Zone focuses on a few Cradle favorites, such as the helicopter simulator and building station. The outdoor Zone focuses on nature-play and hands-on activities that will stimulate a sense of wonder for the outdoor world.

The Forest Festival Trail is 1.3 miles and blends Dr. Schenck’s forestry experiments with forest work today while allowing for discussions on many topics, including how plants grow, decomposition, forest issues, and past transportation methods. Highlights include an ozone garden, antique portable sawmill, and a 1914 Climax locomotive. Climb aboard and ring the bell!

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Past, Present, and Future of Forestry Come Alive At the Cradle of Forestry in America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Biltmore Campus Trail is 1.0 mile and winds through the Biltmore Forest School’s rustic campus. A one-room schoolhouse, general store, cabins, blacksmith shop, and a garden provide opportunities to discuss life in the early 1900s and forest resources. Glimpse the lives of the first American forestry students and the families who lived here. If time is pressed a visit to the first three buildings only can be arranged and still be meaningful.

The Forest Discovery Trail is 1.3 miles long and loops above the Forest Festival Trail, making for a 2.2 mile loop from the backdoor of the main building. Discover your own forest stories along this scenic trail. Keep an eye out for a hidden cascade, rest on benches along the way and take in the woodsy views while catching a glimpses of the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Pink Beds Valley below.

Worth Pondering…

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.

—Willa Cather

Leave a Reply