Parks, Trails, Preserves, and Greenways

What do you love to do outdoors? There are so many ways to enjoy nature, from family outings to adventure sports, fly fishing to photography, rock climbing to riding horses. At Conserving Carolina, we’re passionate about providing great places to enjoy the outdoors.

From state parks to nature preserves to local parks and greenways, we have protected over 23,000 acres of land for recreation! Below, find a list so you can explore places to play near you. 

  • Hiking group on Trombatore Trail
  • Chimney Rock Photo
  • Bearwallow Sunset
  • Boy on Wildcat Rock Trail
  • Ice Climbers at Little Bearwallow Falls
  • Reece Place Falls, on East Fork in Headwaters State Forest – photo by Kevin Adams
  • View from Weed Patch Mountain Trail
  • Spring on the upper French Broad River
  • Little White Oak Mountain view from Polk County Middle School (courtesy PCMS)
  • Backpacker
  • Horseback riding in DuPont State Recreational Forest

Take a Challenge

Conserving Carolina offers two challenges that invite you to explore protected lands.

With either challenge, you’ll discover wonderful places and gain a more personal connection to land conservation.

Find a Place to Play

There are now 33 places that we’ve helped protect that are now open to the public! There are many more places where we’re currently working create trails or facilities so you can come explore them. If you want more places for recreation, you can help as a Conserving Carolina member or volunteer.

Buncombe County

Henderson County

Rutherford County

Polk County

Transylvania County

Create More Places for Everyone to Enjoy!

Become a member!

We’re always working to create new parks, trails, greenways, and public lands. If you enjoy the great outdoors, become a member of Conserving Carolina! Your membership supports conservation and we’ll keep you in the loop about the latest news, outings, and events.

become a member



Guided Hikes and Volunteer Days

Do you want to make a difference by building trails or restoring habitat? Do you want to discover some sweet new hiking spots? Do you want to connect with other people who enjoy the outdoors? Would you like to learn more about our region’s unique natural habitats?

If so, there are lots of ways you can get outside with Conserving Carolina and we’d love to have you. Check out our calendar to see upcoming events. Or explore volunteer opportunities. 

Explore the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail

So far, we have helped open over 38 miles of stunning hiking trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge, with more on the way. It’s all part of a larger vision for a 100+ mile network of connected trails, officially designated as the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail. Learn more.  

Leading the Way on Greenways and Rail Trails

All of us need green space close to home where we can enjoy the outdoors and reconnect with nature. That’s why Conserving Carolina is helping create local greenway systems that link neighborhoods, parks, schools, and businesses. Learn more.

We are also excited to be spearheading two game changing new rail trails! Learn more about the future 19-mile Ecusta Trail and the proposed 31-mile Saluda Grade Trail.

Pathways to Parks: A Nature Group for People of Color

Parks and trails are for everyone—but, often, people of color don’t benefit from them as much as white people. At an event co-sponsored by Conserving Carolina, Frank and Audrey Peterman asked “Where are the black and brown faces?” The Petermans inspired members of the audience to start a new group, called Pathways to Parks. See their story

This group encourages black and brown people to take advantage of parks, trails, and nature preserves through activities such as hiking, camping, cycling, tennis, walking, and picnicking. You can connect with Pathways to Parks on their website.

Larry Pender goes for a walk in the woods with Pathways to Parks.