The Transylvania Times -

U.S. Forest Service Seeking Trail Feedback

 

April 2, 2018

Map 1 (Click photo for larger detailed image)

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking the public's input on proposed changes to trails in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.

The proposed changes may be viewed on the maps on this page and the following two pages. Officials are emphazing that these are just proposals at this point.

Each map indicates which trails have been proposed for decommission, for reroute, for new construction or usage change.

Map 1 includes a proposed connector trail from Middle Fork Trail to Big Creek that would be a Hiking, Biking and equestrian trail.

Proposed usage changes to connect the Blue Ridge Parkway with two existing hiking-only trails with Pilot Rock and Laurel Mountain trail are also in discussion.

Another proposed connector from Laurel Mountain Trail to Big Creek is shown in yellow above. Nearly all forest user groups have been asking the Forest Service for better connectivity in the forest.

For Map 2, a proposed usage change for the North Slope Trail is in discussion.

That would make this trail for Hiking only.

Usage change for the eastern side of Coontree Trail is also shown, designating this section of trail Hiking only.

In yellow, a proposed reroute for the middle section of Bennett Gap Trail would drop the trail off the top part of the ridge toward the south sloping side.

A large reroute for the upper elevations of Black Mountain Trail would take the trail off the top of the ridge and create a new, contouring trail. Discussions about leaving the existing trail and decommissioning it are both ongoing.

Decommissioning a section of Upper Sycamore Trail, along the creek, is being proposed also.

The Forest Service wants to close any trails that dump sediment into the creeks, so a new trail that contours it will be constructed.

That trail, dubbed the 2400 Connector, will continue west allowing users to access the interior of the forest without riding or Hiking on U.S. 276.

The proposed trail would cut behind the Ranger station and White Pines group camp and end at the Horse Stables on FS Road 477.

An additional connector trail, from Joel Branch Road to Horse Cove Road, is also being proposed.

This trail would be open to equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers, according to the map.

In Map 3, a usage change for the seasonal section of Cat Gap Trail (the lower portion that ends at the fish hatchery) would become Hiking only in this proposal.

A reroute for bikes would be constructed to the west of Cat Gap Trail. One short section of the lower Cat Cap Trail would be decommissioned for all users.

A large reroute of Butter Gap Trail is proposed, as well as a connector from Forest Service Road 5095, providing better connectivity for users.

Decommissioning, and building a reroute for the steepest section of Long Branch Trail, is also shown on the map.

Heavy maintenance, which is shown in dark brown, has been proposed for the Looking Glass Rock Trail. "Heavy maintenance" is likely to include the installation of grade reversals designed to direct water off the trail, and may include fencing and rock armoring, as well.

In Map 4, proposals for a new trail connecting the bottom section of Cantrell Creek Trail to Squirrel Gap Trail using the ridge above the existing Cantrell Creek is shown. Decommissioning the existing Cantrell Creek Trail from the intersecton of Horse Cove to Squirrel Gap Trail is shown in orange.

In Map 5, heavy maintenance has been proposed for virtually all of the trails surrounding Graveyard Fields, including the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Heavy maintenance would likely include machine work, rock armoring, fencing and grade reversals to direct water off these heavily used trails.

Forest visitors can expect similar trail work performed on the Art Loeb Trail during last year's Pisgah Pride Day, where rock steps and gravel were used to raise the trail bed and reroute water off the trail.

In Map 6, decommissioning the gravel road across U.S. 276 from the Pisgah Ranger Station is shown in red.

Additionally, closing the Western paved lot at the bottom of Black Mountain Trail is also shown in red.

Public input will help to evaluate the proposed actions and identify potential issues.

Comments for the project may be submitted by attending the open house at the ranger station on April 10, or by submitting them online at https://cara.ecosystemmanagement.org/Public/CommentInput?project=53329.

Map 2 (Click photo for larger detailed image)

Comments may also be submitted by visiting the Pisgah Ranger Station from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. or mailed to Pisgah Ranger District, USDA Forest Service, Attn: Jeff Owenby, 1600 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC.

Comments will become part of the project record and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act.To be most useful, submit comments within the official 30-day scoping period, which ends April 27.

More details on this project may be found on the project website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53329.

For additional information, contact Patrick Scott (trails) or Jeff Owenby (developed recreation) at the Pisgah Ranger Station at (828) 877-3265 or by email at pscott@fs.fed.us or jowenby@fs.fed.us.

 
 

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