Bundle up and join Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy for a winter solstice celestial show atop CMLC-conserved Bearwallow Mountain on Tuesday, December 17th. We'll hike to the summit in time to first watch the sunset followed by a full moon-rise 30 minutes later in the lingering twilight.
At 4,232 ft. above sea level, Bearwallow Mountain stands as the highest peak in the widely-visible Bearwallow Highlands range. Straddling the Eastern Continental Divide, it makes up part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment as well as the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Crowned with a grassy meadow at its summit, the mountain features a nearly 360 degree view that encompasses some of the southern Appalachians highest peaks including Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains and Mt. Pisgah in the Great Balsams range. Its breathtaking vista also includes a birds-eye view of Hickory Nut Gorge, as well as downtown Hendersonville. A historic fire lookout tower occupies the summit, as do grazing cattle who call the mountaintop home.
CMLC acquired a conservation easement on 81 acres at the summit of Bearwallow in 2009, forever protecting it from mountaintop development. An additional 85 acres were placed into a conservation easement on Bearwallow Mountain's ridgeline in 2012. CMLC is working toward the total conservation of more than 480 acres at Bearwallow Mountain.
Total hiking distance is 2.0 miles. This hike is rated strenuous with a total elevation gain of 537 feet. Attendance is free and open to the public. We will begin our hike at 4:30 pm. Sunset will be at 5:19 pm, moonrise will be at 5:56 pm. We will return to the trail head by 7:00 pm. Please note: because of the time of year and the nature of this hike, plan to pack a flashlight and additional clothes, blanket/sleeping bag and/or a thermos to stay warm while on the summit.
Participants are required to be in good physical condition and capable to hike over uneven, forested terrain. Hikers should wear sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops), bring several layers of clothing in preparation for cold temperatures, pack plenty of water as well as a snack to eat during the hike. Hikers who attend are required to participate in the entire duration of the hike.
This hike is open to the public as well as CMLC members. Space is limited on our hikes, so please reserve your spot by using CMLC's Online Hike Sign-Up Form. Hike meeting locations and additional details will be sent out to participants via e-mail 1-2 days prior to the hike. Reservations for a spot on this hike will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis using:
For questions, contact CMLC Trails & Outreach Associate Matt Kirk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow one full business day for a response to Sign-Ups and inquiries. In the event of inclement weather, please call our office at (828) 697-5777 as we may have to cancel the outing.
Photo credit: Gale Rainwater