More than 2 million visitors each year come to the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest, and that number is growing annually. With more than 160,000 acres, the district is known nationally for its outstanding recreation opportunities and spectacular diversity of plant and animal life. Of the 160,000 acres that make up the Pisgah Ranger District, 88,300 of them are in Transylvania County. The district has about 400 miles of trails, 180 miles of which are open to mountain biking, and 100 miles of which are open for horseback riding.
From the Pisgah Forest business community, U.S. 276 winds its way through the district’s heart, going deeper into the forest and stretching roughly 15 miles to connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Part of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, this route has been named a National Scenic Byway, the highest designation a road can receive in the United States.
The forest came into being after the Vanderbilt family sold a tract of land from the original Biltmore Estate to the United States government in 1914. The district is the home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America heritage site. More than 6,500 acres were designated by Congress to showcase forestry and resource management.
The Pink Beds Picnic Area and Loop Trail feature an elevated boardwalk and excellent day-hiking opportunities. At the main entrance off U.S. 276 one can experience the Discovery Center (exhibits, bookstore, movie theater, café) and more than 3 miles of paved accessible trails for families with strollers and wheelchairs to explore the forest up close. A new app has been developed in 2018 that is designed to entertain and educate visitors as they walk through the forest.
Campers have four developed campgrounds to choose from in the district, including the Davidson River Campground, open year round. Developed picnic sites include Sycamore Flats and Coontree. Picnic shelters may be reserved at both Sycamore Flats and Pink Beds.
For more information, stop by the Pisgah Ranger Station and Visitor Center, located a mile from the forest entrance on U.S. 276, or call (828) 877-3265. To make a camping reservation at developed campsites, or picnic shelter reservations, call (877) 444-6777 or go to www.recreation.gov.
In all developed areas of Pisgah National Forest, visitors are required to keep their pets leashed. Developed areas are generally considered parking lots, campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads. Pets must be leashed everywhere within the Bent Creek area of the Pisgah Ranger District. For more tips, visit www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc.