Holmes Educational State Forest (7-30-15)
Holmes Educational State Forest is a small tract of woodlands, about 235 acres in all, adjoining DuPont State Forest between the towns of Brevard and Hendersonville. The property was purchased in pieces between 1938 and 1942 and was originally formed as a State Park. Over the following decades the land was used by both the State of North Carolina and the U.S. Forest Service for the study of forest management practices. Along with North Carolina's six other <i>Educational</i> State Forests, Holmes is now managed primarily as an environmental classroom. With the wildly popular and, at times, overcrowded DuPont State Forest next door Holmes Educational State Forest is all but ignored despite the fact that most people visiting DuPont drive right by it. This means that Holmes offers a nice quiet alternative on a summer day for a walk in the Southern Appalachian forest.
I'll admit it, I had up to this point been guilty of overlooking Holmes Educational State Forest as well. It wasn't until recently when I tried to get some more information about it online and discovered pathetically little (come on North Carolina, you can give these state forests better websites!) that I decided to do my part and put together my own version of a tour. On this visit I'd be hiking around 4 of the 5-miles of hiking trails within the forest. Along these trails (all of which are lined with a plethora of interpretive signage) I was able to see old Forest Service fire fighting equipment, tour the exhibits of a small Forestry Center, and walk the properties most famous path, that of the Talking Trees where a push of a button makes the trees 'talk' and share a bit about themselves and their contributions to the surrounding woodlands. I found Holmes to be quite scenic and incredibly informative. It is certainly worthy of much more attention than it appears to receive. Come on along with me to see what I discovered and, if you're in the area, I'd highly recommend you stop by and check it out for yourself...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates:35.239387, -82.579772
Route Type: Loop Difficulty: MODERATE
Hike Length: ~4.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:00
Trailhead Temp: 85'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 2,200' Max. Elevation: 2,640'
Total Vertical Gain: 650' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 163'