Cradle of Forestry in America

Cradle of Forestry is the center of what is known as Pisgah National Forest. It was established by George & Edith Vanderbilt of the Biltmore Estates well over 100 years ago as the first science-based forestry school in the United States and is 6,500 acres in the heart of Pisgah National Forest. Congress preserved this track of land in 1968 to always be a place of education about forestry and the native flora and fauna plus the land’s history. It has multiple paved hiking trails that are easily accessible from the very young to the very old, with old structures from the forestry school days and antique equipment. The well-maintained paved trails are a great nature trail for wheelchairs and strollers alike. The indoor center host over 15 hands-on exhibits, a Giving Tree gift shop, Cafe at the Cradle, and meeting/conference rooms for all your educational needs. Located very close to the Cradle of Forestry are the Pink Beds, one of our favorite hikes in the Asheville area. 

The Cradle of Forestry is open yearly from mid-April to mid-November from 10 am to 4 pm every day except Monday and Tuesday when they are closed. The admission is $6.00, and 12 or younger are free. It is half price for America the Beautiful annual or lifetime pass holders plus three guests. There are certain days of the year that admission price is free; call Cradle of Forestry for more information on the specific days. 

Cradle of Forestry – (828) 877-3130

Are tours at the Cradle of Forestry Guided or Self-Guided?

You can have guided or self-guided. The indoor exhibits have volunteers to help you with any questions you might have gladly. You can pay a little extra to have a guided tour of the outdoor trails and grounds, which explains all the structures and points of interest. If you chose the self-guided tour, you will be well informed by using the brochure given to you in the visitor center. All structures and exhibits have interpretive signs and audio telling you the Cradle of Forestry’s vast history.  

Are there hiking trails at Cradle of Forestry?

There are three paved hiking trails at the Cradle of Forestry.

1 – The Forest Festival Trail: This is a 1.3-mile easy trail. It explores the 1908 Biltmore Forest Fair, walking you through a tree plantation and antique equipment once actively used at the forestry school. Throughout the whole trail are stories of past and present-day forestry efforts.   

 

2 – Biltmore Campus Trail: This 1.0-mile easy trail takes you through the campus of the first science-based forestry school in the United States. The interpretive signs and audio give you a good idea of what life was like from 1898 to 1909 for the Cradle of Foresty School students on the grounds and in the historic buildings scattered throughout this trail.  

 

3 – Forest Discovery Trail: This is 1.3miles and rated moderate with some uphill climbs. With a few hills, this trail has scattered benches along the side for you to take a break and listen to the stillness of the forest. This trail is mainly to enjoy the local flora and fauna and is less educationally guided as the other two trails are.  

The Forest Festival Trail

What kind of animals are at the Cradel of Forestry?

Cradle of Forestry has many guided tours in May to view the rare Blue Ghost Fireflies. These fireflies are only seen in very few places in the United States, which is one of them. During daytime hours, there are many native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds to be seen all over the grounds.

Are there bathrooms?

Yes, there are bathrooms in the visitor center.

Where can I eat?

There is Cafe at the Cradle located in the visitor center. Picnicking is also allowed on the grounds of the Cradle of Forestry; just remember to dispose of trash in the trash bins.  If the Cradle of Forestry is too busy, less than a mile up the road is the Pink Beds, which has plenty of room for large groups to picnic.

How close is Cradle of Forestry to the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Cradle of Forestry is located 4 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, making it an effortless side trip.

Are there things to do nearby?

Right next to Cradle of Forestry, there is the Pink Beds a biodiverse picnicking and hiking area. The Blue Ridge Parkway is only 4 miles away. 3.5 miles away is a local favorite Sliding Rock which is a waterfall that gradually glides down a rock surface into a pool of water allowing visitors to use the natural slide to get a very cold thrill.  Looking Glass Falls, one of the main attractions to Pisgah Forest is just a short drive and a gorgeous view to get the fresh spray of a waterfall on your skin on a hot day.

View looking down the walkway that leads to Looking Glass Falls

How do we get there?

Directions: Google Maps click here

11250 Pisgah Hwy
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

From the Blue Ridge Parkway, exit at Milepost 412.

From Brevard, take US Highway 276 North about 15 miles.