Schoolhouse Ridge Trail Reopens Following Restoration

Release Date: Apr 8, 2022

NEBO, NC (April 8, 2022) – The Schoolhouse Ridge Trail, located in the Wilson Creek area of Caldwell County on Pisgah National Forest’s Grandfather Ranger District, has reopened to hikers and mountain bikers. The trail (TR #279) has been closed since January 2022 for restoration of the lower 1.5 miles of trail connecting to Mortimer Campground.

Under the direction of the Grandfather District and volunteers of the Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance, lead builder Chase Tribble with High Country Conservation LLC relocated approximately 1 mile of trail and maintained ½ mile of existing trail. The trail relocation resulted in the construction of new singletrack trail and closure of unsustainable fall-line sections. The new purpose-built mountain bike trail sections transition in and out of original sections of trail that were improved along the ridge.

“What I’m most excited about on Schoolhouse is how we were able to keep the character and rocky nature folks love while mixing in modern trail building,” explains Lisa Jennings, Recreation Manager for the Grandfather District. “It’s old meets new - combining existing sections with new alignments to create a sustainable trail that better protects the Wilson Creek Watershed.”

Prior to the restoration work, Schoolhouse Ridge Trail was often referred to as the textbook example of an unsustainable trail. Over the last five years lower Schoolhouse was simultaneously dumping sediment into the sensitive Wilson Creek Watershed, while also becoming virtually un-rideable as increased rainfall further scoured the fall-line sections and ditches were formed that measured up to 6-feet in depth.

“The new Schoolhouse Trail expands the mountain bike opportunities by not simply adding more mileage, but by embracing technical challenges. The historic trail was revered for its difficulty but was a sustainability nightmare,” said Kristian Jackson, professor at Appalachian State University, trail boss at Rocky Knob Bike Park, and key partner with the Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance. “The new trail minimizes environmental problems while maximizing the technical riding experience.” This restoration work was implemented as part of the Mortimer Trails Project. Planned in coordination with local partners, the project aims to increase the sustainability of the trail system and add 10 additional miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. Schoolhouse Ridge Trail is the second project to be completed, following the restoration of the Yancey Ridge Trail. The Schoolhouse Ridge work was funded by a NC Recreation Trails Program (RTP) Grant and contracted through the US Forest Service.