This is the last free first Tuesday of the month Arboretum hike this year! (The Arboretum goes to winter hours 8 AM - 7 PM November - March, and it's too dark to hike after work at 6!)
We will meet at the UPPER PARKING LOT by the Visitors' Center and depart for the trails at 6:10 pm. Come into the Arboretum Main Entrance off of Hwy 191 and go up the hill to the main parking area. I will be somewhere in the middle.
NOTE: If the number of people who show up is very large, we may split the group into two, with another Organizer leading half the group one way, and me leading the other half the other way.
Dogs: Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, and there are a couple of streams we will cross (on bridges) or walk near so our furry friends can drink and play in the water a bit. Your dog must be on a leash--people have gotten ticketed at the Arboretum because their dogs weren't on leashes!
Length: The entire hike will be about 3 miles, with an option for a shorter hike, and we should be back in the parking lot between 7:15 and 7:30 pm. (Sunset is at 7:14 pm)
Difficulty: I would rate this hike as an "easy" hike, with a couple of places going up hills being more "moderate," but not too strenuous. It's really more of a pleasant evening walk than a hike. We will go at a moderate pace, about 2-2.5 miles per hour, or about 1 mile every 24 - 30 minutes; however, we need to try to be back before it gets really dark. Please try to stay with the group when hiking!
The Route: Go across the parking lot by the main Visitor Center and down the Carolina Mountain Trail (1.3 miles), to Bent Creek Road, then along the entire length of Bent Creek Road (1.3 miles, flat), perhaps taking some of the scenic route by Bent Creek. Then up the Wesley Branch Trail (0.4 miles), over on the Nature Garden Trail (0.1 mile) and back to the parking lot. We will stop at all trail intersections, and there will be an option for a shorter hike.
What to bring: Appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather. A flashlight, since it may be dark at the end of the hike. The trails are well maintained, so you can get by with sneakers if it's dry. Also some water, a hat, and maybe some bug repellent. Finally, a camera and/or smart phone. Please also use the restroom before you enter the Arboretum since all Arboretum buildings close at 5 pm. (There is one porta-john available for use about 2/3 of the way through the hike.)
What if it rains? If it rains, you will probably get wet. Bring appropriate clothing, including rain gear.
Hope to see you there,