Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Bent Creek Experimental Forest
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Located within the Pisgah National Forest, this 6,300-acre area is home to the North Carolina Arboretum.
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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles61 reviews
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36
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14
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3
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5

NcMysteryShopper
Western North Carolina500 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
The Bent Creek Experimental Forest is the oldest federal experimental forest east of the Mississippi river. It located within the Pisgah National forest and is comprised of over 6,000 acres.

It is home to Lake Powhatan Recreational Area and the North Carolina Arboretum. The Blue Ridge Parkway borders the east and south precincts of the park. There are well over 44 miles of trails within Bent Creek Experimental Forest that are accessible to the general public.

Hiking, biking, and horse back riding on designated trails are permitted and signs are strategically positioned at trailheads stating selected trail usage.

There are three self-guided interpretive trails where you can read about the history, current and past research, and forest types within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.

The Habitat Hike: This trail starts at the bridge over Bent Creek in the Lake Powhatan Rec Area. The trail is 3.5-miles and passes through several ecological habitats: a stream bottom, laurel-rhododendron thickets, and forests of white pine, hemlock, and various hardwoods. Interpretive signs educate the value of the habitats to the area's wildlife and human populations. Follow the brown signs with yellow arrows.
Ledford Branch Demonstration Trail: This trail is a 4.6-mile hike. Signs educated the hikers about hardwood forest regeneration; including clearcuts, shelterwood harvests, group harvests, and single-tree selection. Some of the signs point out wildlife habitats. The first 3.6 miles of the trail is open to bicycles, horses, and hikers. The final mile is a foot path open only to hikers.

Centennial Trail: Park at the Rice Pinnacle parking area and locate the sign guiding you to the trailhead, located across Rice Pinnacle road. This is a short 0.6 mile trail that takes you through current research areas in an assortment of ecological settings. The trail was established in 2005 to commemorate the Forest Service’s 100th birthday.
Other Trails:

Hiking with a Dog: During the tourist season the area can be quite congested, but if you hike during the off-season or on a weekday, it is an ideal place to trek with your dog. The Pine Tree Loop meanders through wooded areas and meadows and intersects with enough creeks to keep dogs engrossed, attentive, and in high spirits. Although mountain bikes are permitted on this trail, it is level and broad enough to safely pass each other. Tip: If hiking between September and May, place an orange vest on your dog, since hunting is permitted. Hunting is prohibited on Sundays.

Mountain Bikes and Hardtimes: There are about 10 miles of doubletrack and singletrack open for mountain biking in Bent Creek Experimental Forest. Hardtimes Trail is comprised of a 6.5-mile loop, with a 1.6-mile one-way out-and-back (3.2 miles total). This well-liked trailhead’s namesake is actually a road, and not indicative of the trail.
None of the trails in the Bent Creek trail system are considered tremendously technical. Most trails follow old roads or railroads and have only a few sections that necessitate technical ability; steep trails, rocks, roots, mud, and creek crossings. Fast, hard-packed trails are in between the obstacles.

Horseback Riding: Bent Creek has about 10 miles of trails that can be ridden on during daylight hours. There are no trails specifically designated for horses only.
Written April 20, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ma_2719
Phoenix, AZ213 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2016 • Friends
Bent is a bear sanctuary and, as the title of the forest denotes, an experimental area for the rangers. Some studies are more than eighty years old. And it is big brother is the Pisgah National Forest. There are over 44 miles of trails for the masses. You can hike and bike. There is swimming and camping, too. There are three main trails for you to choose from. The signs at trail heads will let you know what you can expect ahead or behind. Pay attention to them. You can plan ahead by getting a map at their website.
Written July 30, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bev M
Atlanta, Georgia338 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014 • Family
A server in downtown Asheville recommended this hike and we set off on a misty morning to enjoy some time outdoors. The staff member who "greeted" us was unusually rude when we asked for advice on where we should hike. There were two carloads of us and he seemed annoyed that we were trying to pay to enter the park- famous greeting "what do you want?!". When we asked about a specific loop- Deerfield- he said he's never heard of it and said we might want to go somewhere else. We ended up staying despite the rude greeting and laughed when we stumbled across Deerfield Loop! The hike is nice if you can get past the staff.
Written June 11, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

NBkid
Asheville, NC2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2012 • Family
My wife daughter and I drove there to take a quick drive through the park to see if we would like it and what sites looked best, before making reservations. After driving all the way there we were turned away. We were told that they were too busy to let people drive through?!? I explained that we drove some distance to come take a look and that we would drive very slow and carefully and just wanted to take a quick look around, could you please let us since we took the time now and where already there. Nope, hard rule, when were busy no drive thrus. The attendants at the gate are old retirees that would get stressed out over anything it seems...I think its time for them to step down and get back to the retirement home where its not so stressful for them. People like us only have so much time around our busy work schedules, not to mention the price of gas, and when we simply want to drive through it should not be a problem! I am writing this to warn others, if your thinking about going to check this park out, call first, wake up the ol' goats at the gate, and see if its 'TOO BUSY' or if their too stressed to let you in. Crazy!
Written June 30, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sedmb41
Charlotte, NC1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2012 • Family
I have to say that I was very disappointed in my stay at Lake Powhatan campground in Asheville,NC on 5/25-526/2012

When I arrived and standing in line, a car drove up and was told only one site was left and only available for one night. The person in the car said he would take it and went to park his car. I mentioned to the attendant that I was standing in line prior to the car pulling up and that I would like the site. After discussion with his coworker, they gave me the site.

I asked if any sites would be available for Saturday. I was told to check in at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning. After driving to the store and back I inquired again about Saturday availability on the chance that something might have come open. I was told again that people were scheduled to check out but to check back on Saturday at 10:00 AM.

I checked back in at the main gate around 8:00 AM to play it safe since my family was going to be driving 3 hours for our Memorial Day weekend vacation. I was asked if I was “put on the waiting list” by a different attendant. I told her that I was never told there was a list. She laughed at me and said she did not know that there was a list either. I ended up being 5th on the waiting list but told a huge amount of campers would be leaving and it would be no problem. They would let me know when a site is available but I had to be at my site.
Since no one came to my site by 10 I went to the both again and was told I was now 3rd on the list.

Around 11:00 AM I went to the booth to get change for the drink machine and was told I was next on the list for a site. Great news!
I waited at my current site (19) for another 2 hours. I went back to the attendants at 1 since I had to be checked out by 2:00PM only to find two new attendants. I stood there for a few minutes since it seemed to me that cars trying to go to the beach took precedence over campers that pay a higher price and use the facility 24 hours at a time.

When they finally asked what I wanted, they could not find the list! I was then told to wait until 2PM. Knowing that campers have to renew by 10 A. M., I asked if any non reserved site have not checked out yet. They did not seem happy with what I thought a logical question. After a glance at the list by one of the attendants, I was told that site 64 and 19 had not checked out yet. I let them know site 19 was my current site and that it is a reserved site. This continued display of carelessness by all the attendance alarmed me.

I checked site 64 and it was empty! I went back and told the male attendant and he told me he never said 64 was on the list to be open. The female attendant who DID tell me 64 was to be open said she never said this and that it was reserved for the night already. The reserved dates on the sign at the site read reserved 5/25-5/27/12 like they originally told me and that they might be leaving early.

After not being told about the list, not being communicated with and being treated very unprofessionally by everyone at the campground and waiting around 6 hours; I ended up calling my family for them to turn around.

We have been camping for years now and I have never experienced such bad service in my life. I understand that it was a holiday weekend and that a lot of the people are volunteers but this is still no excuse.

I am always reading how the Cradle of Forestry and the National Forest Service are trying to get more people out and enjoy the land but this is no way to go about it.
Written May 27, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KYCarpers
Louisville, KY9 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014 • Couples
We were looking for a place to hike near where we were staying in Asheville. This looked like the perfect choice. There was a brochure in our room and some nice little trails were indicated. From the moment we arrived at the gate, we have never felt so unwelcome in any park of any kind. But we were not camping and it seemed to throw the folks off. We were willing to pay the $4 for parking, no problem, but we asked for a brochure since ours belonged our rental property. They refused saying they were just for campers. We asked to purchase one but we were rudely refused. While in the park, we found a restroom but it was locked. 45 minutes later we went back to the restroom and I was rudely told they were closed. After I asked what a person was supposed to do the person who cleans said that I was LUCKY (her words) that she would let me in as she was planning to clean them (there were 4 individual restrooms and she was working on the first one). She did end up apologizing as I'm fairly certain she realized that we knew she was supposed to have the restrooms open by at least 10am and it’s now 10:45. Although the trails were nice enough...the damage was done. When leaving we had to stop to give them our parking pass (we paid $4 for) and the gate person rudely said that she saw us drive thru the camping area (like we were criminals). We told her we were looking for the Pisgah national forest and showed her our map and how confusing it was, but her condescending look was just the icing on the cake. We love this area but this is one place we will never visit again and we will make sure our friends and acquaintances pass it by as well. What a shame!
Written June 15, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

UKBL
Lexington2 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2014
As another reviewer mentioned, we were not permitted to drive through to view/select our site. My husband remarked that campgrounds in KY allow this. The older gentleman chuckled and said they just don't. I wonder what purpose the "reservable" tags at the site serve? At most campgrounds you would drive around, choose your site and bring that to the gate to secure your site, not be assigned a site unseen! That fellow has no idea what each camper is looking for in a site.

After finding our site we wanted to drive around the grounds before dark. Now this was our first visit to the park. We drove down to the fishing dock. There were no vehicles or people, we admired the view and turned around to leave. A golfcart passed us, my husband smiled and waved, but stopped as an older woman got off the cart and strode up to our vehicle. My husband greeted her. No niceties "do you have a handicap sticker?" she questioned brusquely. No, we don't. "You are not allowed down to the parking area unless you have a sticker. When this parking lot is full ( which there was NOBODY there) you could not get turned around. It is on that sign up there." she gruffly informed us. We sat dumbfounded, speechless. She did not even afford us the benefit of doubt that we honestly just did not see the sign.
You are not allowed to use rafts in the swimming area.
This was our first interaction with the fine folk of N.C. We were worried about the remainder of our trip, but were pleased to find people outside of this park were kind and friendly. There was a sweet little old Nana that came up and tended the empty site by us. She smiled and greeted us as she passed.
We were able to hike to the N.C. Arboretum from the campground. That was nice.
Overall, a nice campground run by grumpy, rude people who are not up to speed or choose not to acknowledge how campgrounds are run. THERE NEEDS TO BE A CHANGING OF THE GUARD!
Written June 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

OurNCFamily
North Carolina74 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2014 • Family
We're from NC and have been to Asheville numerous times. This time we needed a campground to land at and Lake Powhatan looked like it would be a great campground at an even greater location. We made a call to verify that there were spaces and that we could still get in.
When we came in we were verbally assaulted by the "manager" of the campground. He was just completely rude and so out of line. We've camped all over, mainly at state and national parks, but also at state and national forest campgrounds as well as private campgrounds. Never have we experienced an attitude like this, and this is at a government facility open to the public. I think the Pisgah Forest administration needs to take a look at this guy and make a change. He's definitely not who they need as the face of their campground. If this were a private place I would've gone after a refund for having to encounter attitude like that!
The charges for camping were also higher than we've paid at any state park or national park campground. Given that this was off-season and not in the peak summer months, I'd expect lower. This was more than we've paid at private campgrounds that have a resort atmosphere with all the amenities.
The facilities at the campground appeared to be good, and if it weren't for the manager we'd most likely return. The lake looked wonderful and there were lots of hiking trails that we could explore. We'd pack the bikes too as the kids could handle the roads, but maybe not the trails yet. It's also convenient to so many things we like to do in Asheville.
Bottom line, get rid of the "manager" and I'd give it 5 stars!
Written April 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

mick m
Wilmington, NC1 contribution
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2015 • Couples
First off, I must agree with others in that the park is a very nice layout with lots of trails available and easily accessible. However, with the exception of a few, the staff is unbearable and rude. They are more like our Military protecting a strategic base operation than they are helpful attendants at a family campground. Entering a campground, one expects registration and entry delays, but this place requires you to stop for a visual inspection and clearance upon exiting! They even have barriers up to enforce that. Is that necessary? Really?
We have stayed there several times, both in 2014 and again in 2015 because of the proximity to the Parkway and to Asheville and can tell you first hand that drive thru's to look over available campsites will most likely be denied and if you ask to move to another campsite from which you were assigned be prepared for an ordeal!
Written September 23, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jerry K
Asheville, NC109 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2015 • Solo
Only 15 minutes from downtown Asheville and bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. Miles of great single track and jeep trails. Wide variety for all skill levels. Trails closest to the lake are easier, trails higher up are more technical. Greenslick is a classic but a 40 minute climb to the trailhead. Hang on tight as it is rooty and rocky in parts but a thrill. Explorer loop is tame with some good jumps. If you want to just cruise there are many jeep trails, some lead up to the Parkway. Always a popular Asheville hang out to enjoy the great outdoors on nice days.
Written January 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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