New Trail Opens at Bracken Mountain Preserve in Brevard

Volunteers and officials celebrating the opening of the Pinnacle Trail at Bracken Mountain Preserve.

A new trail for hiking and mountain biking just opened in Bracken Mountain Preserve. The approximately 1.5-mile trail, called the Pinnacle Trail, offers a steep climb with 500 feet of elevation gain and creates a new loop.

It brings the trail system in Bracken Mountain Preserve to nearly nine miles. These trails create a direct connection between Brevard and Pisgah National Forest.

Aaron Bland, a planner with the City of Brevard, says, “Bracken is a valuable amenity the City is proud to provide. It connects citizens to their natural and cultural heritage, promotes healthy living, adds to our area’s reputation for fantastic outdoor recreation, and is a prime example of the great things that can be achieved through collaboration.”

Volunteers were instrumental in the construction of these new trails. Professional trail builders with Long Cane Trails collaborated with two service groups organized by Conserving Carolina—Friends of Brevard Area Trails and Summer of Service. These trail crews hiked for miles, carrying heavy tools, just to reach the trail building sites. Volunteers with Friends of Brevard Area Trails included many community members who helped build the original Bracken Mountain trails. Summer of Service, an AmeriCorps program for local 17-to-20-year-olds, completed the work needed to open the new trail to the public. In all, volunteers and Summer of Service members contributed 239 hours to create the Pinnacle Trail.

Todd Branham, the owner of Long Cane Trails, says, “The Bracken trail project has been a great example of how trails connect communities. With the efforts of the community we were able to deliver the trail at 50% less than usually cost to fully construct a trail. Hikers, bikers as well as outdoor enthusiasts joined in the efforts to make the Bracken Trail come to fruition. This project is a model to use as an example of how any community can get more trails on the ground while engaging the members of their community.”

On August 19, the Brevard City Council voted to name the new section the Pinnacle Trail, after a historic settlement in this area. Many local families trace their roots back to the Pinnacle community, including the Mackey family for whom the nearby Mackey Ridge Trail is named.

Signage in the Bracken Mountain Preserve marks the history of the Pinnacle community. Among the founders of Pinnacle were Laughing Water, a young woman from the Blackfoot nation, and Tom, an African-American, both of whom had escaped from captivity. Laughing Water and Tom moved their large family to these mountains in the early 1860s to avoid typhoid fever.

Torry Nergart, Conserving Carolina’s conservation easement manager, who organized the trail-building workdays, is a resident of Brevard and an avid mountain biker. He says, “The new trail makes Bracken Mountain more of a destination, not just a way to get somewhere else or a quick after-work ride. Now, you can get in a really good climb and an extended downhill run. Afterwards, you’re right there in Brevard’s downtown.”

Keenan Smith, a  member of Brevard’s Parks, Trails, and Recreation, and Committee, says, “We are fortunate to have leaders that were able to see the beauty and potential in this property early on. I am encouraged by the continued commitment of the City and its partners to carefully plan and develop Bracken Preserve with attention to stewardship and the user experience. Starting out on a beautiful ridge at the top of the property, the new Pinnacle Trail is an excellent addition to our town trail system, rewarding all users on two feet or two wheels.”

Conserving Carolina is a local land trust dedicated to protecting land and water, promoting good stewardship, and creating opportunities for people to enjoy nature. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org.