Have you ever wanted to learn more about the birds and plants in your backyard? Or gather tips for a more eco-conscious lifestyle? If so, you should make your way to Grandfather Mountain and attend the Naturalist Weekend scheduled for May 14-16.
This event is designed to immerse visitors in nature and provide them with a better understanding of the flora and fauna of Grandfather Mountain. The three-day event begins on Friday evening and ends on Sunday.
“We are very excited for this year’s Naturalist Weekend to be an official part of the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway, “said Grandfather Mountain Chief Naturalist Jesse Pope. “We are looking forward to sharing the rich natural and cultural history of the Mountain with our visitors. “
The weekend begins with a Nocturnal Walkabout led by Pope on Friday, May 14 at 8:30 p.m. This event grants visitors a rare opportunity to see the sunset from the top of the Mountain and view the animal life after dusk in the park. The event runs until 10:30 p.m. and participants are encouraged to bring headlamps and warm clothing for the program. Space is limited, so reservations are necessary. Please contact the Grandfather Mountain Naturalist office at (828) 733-4326 if you would like to join.
On Saturday, May 15 at 7:30 a.m. Naturalist Weekend participants are invited to join the Naturalist Staff for “Birding the Profile Trail,” a walk on the lower portion of the Profile Trail. This walk is generally three hours long and departs from the Profile trailhead on NC 105, a quarter mile north of the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184.
“Walking the Profile Trail in mid-spring is an excellent time to spot a wide variety of birds during spring migration,” said Pope. “Warblers, Rose Breasted Gross Beaks, Thrushes and Tanagers are commonly seen on that trail this time of year.”
A little later in the morning at 10:30 a.m., Grandfather Mountain Habitats Assistant Manager Tanya Cline presents a workshop on the black bear. The workshop is held in the Museum auditorium and ends with a behind the scenes tour of the bear habitat.
Guests are invited to meet at the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center at 1 pm for a program on the history of the Viaduct. Tina White, Highlands District interpretive ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, will lead guests on a trail that goes beneath the famous bridge. White’s program provides participants with information on the history and unique design of the Viaduct and its significance to the Parkway.
At 2 p.m., Ed Fletcher from Gardens of the Blue Ridge gives a presentation in the Museum auditorium on native plants and their medicinal uses. After the brief presentation, Fletcher plans to take participants to the Butterfly Garden in front of the Fudge Shop for a hands-on demonstration of growing and propagating medicinal herbs. Guests will be invited to help plant herbs, so they are encouraged to bring gardening gloves and wear clothes that they don’t mind getting a little dirty.
Saturday concludes with a guided hike on the Black Rock Trail. Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Katie Gray will talk about predator and prey relationships in the Southern Appalachians, pointing out different animal signs along the trails. She will also discuss the impact of coyotes on the region and the current status of cougars in Western NC. This is a moderately rugged trail so visitors are encouraged to wear appropriate hiking gear.
“Predator and prey relationships are vital to any ecosystem’s health and this hike will give participants a deeper understanding of the predators and prey in their own backyard,” said Gray.
Sunday, May 16 begins with a wildflower walk on the Profile Trail led by Pope. The Profile Trail is not only a great location to see many species of birds; it is the best place to see wildflowers on Grandfather Mountain.
After the wildflower walk, a program on Birds of Prey is scheduled for 11 a.m. in the Museum auditorium. Nina Fisschessor of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College brings several educational animals for participants to view.
At 1p.m. Sue McBean, the Superintendent of Grandfather Mountain State Park will talk to the group about the new state park.
At 2 p.m. Megan MacLeod from the Grandfather Mountain Habitat Staff, presents a unique program on tips for eco-conscious living. MacLeod shares new and easy ways to save money and make your home a little more eco-friendly. Meet in front of the Fudge Shop.
“This program is designed to provide folks with fun new ways to be earth conscious in their own homes, “ said MacLeod. “People of all ages will have a lot of fun with this one. “
Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Jillian Varkas leads a salamander workshop in the Museum Auditorium at 3 p.m. After a brief presentation, Varkas will take participants on a salamander-scouting trip to the Watauga River.
“There are more salamanders in North Carolina than any other place in the world and over 20 species have been identified on Grandfather Mountain,” said Varkas. “This is a great opportunity to bring your family out to the river and learn more about the exciting species that call the rivers on Grandfather their home.”
All programs and guided walks offered as part of Naturalist Weekend are included in the regular price of admission. Those who attend for more than one day should keep their receipt from their first visit and present that for discount admission the following day.
For more information about Grandfather’s Naturalist Weekend, or to make reservations for the Nocturnal Walkabout on Friday night, please call 828-733-4326. For a complete schedule of the Naturalist Weekend please visit www.grandfather.com.
Grandfather Mountain is a 600-acre scenic attraction and nature preserve located near Linville, NC on US Highway 221, one mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 305.
|Shop for Grandfather Mountain Souvenirs at the Blue Ridge Parkway Bookstore!|