/ Community Engagement, Places You Helped Protect, Trails and Recreation,

Join Hiking Challenge 6!

Challenge features 8 hikes on protected lands, including beautiful new trails. 


The popular White Squirrel Hiking Challenge is back! Participants are invited to take on eight hikes, all on lands that Conserving Carolina has helped protect, enhance, or open to the public. The Hiking Challenge includes two new Conserving Carolina trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge. It also includes the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, lakes and waterfalls in DuPont State Recreational Forest, expanded trails in Bracken Mountain Preserve, a beautiful creek in the Green River Game Lands, and the ever-popular Bearwallow Mountain with its panoramic views.  


Take the Hiking Challenge!


Hikers who take the challenge will get to experience eight special places, including some they may not have discovered yet. They will visit some of this region’s most spectacular hiking destinations, as well as hidden gems and beautiful new trails that just opened. They can also earn a prize package that includes their White Squirrel Patch as a badge of honor and exclusive perks from local businesses that support conservation.    

“We want to give people the opportunity to explore our amazing protected lands and strengthen their personal connection to conservation,” says Ericka Berg, Conserving Carolina’s Community Engagement Manager.

“This is the sixth version of the Hiking Challenge and we’re excited that in this version we can feature two new Conserving Carolina trails with gorgeous views. We’re also excited that for every one of these eight hikes, there’s a tie to recent conservation successes.” 

  • Bearwallow Mountain. Photo by Bob Carlson.
  • Wildcat Rock Trail. Photo by Gordon Tutor.
  • Rise and Shine scholars at Bracken Mountain Preserve
  • FawnLake2MarkFile (1)
  • Hooker Falls. Photo by Kevin Adams
  • Green River Cove Hike
  • Whitewater Falls. Photo by Kevin Adams.
  • Youngs Mountain. Photo by Rose Lane.

For example, at Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the East, newly protected land upstream helps keep the river and surrounding forest pristine. At DuPont State Recreational Forest, Conserving Carolina has helped to protect thousands of acres, including the newly added Continental Divide Tract. Conserving Carolina has also added hundreds of acres to the Green River Game Lands in recent years. Conserving Carolina volunteers helped expand trails in the Bracken Mountain Preserve near Brevard. And, hikers on Bearwallow can now continue their trek through the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge, with an expanded trail system.   

Some of the trails in the challenge are open to mountain biking. In these cases, biking a trail can count toward completing the challenge. For those who love to swim, fish, or just be near the water, five of the hikes feature rivers, lakes, or waterfalls.  

The WPA White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 6 is sponsored by real estate firm Witherspoon Platt + Associates (WPA). John Witherspoon, broker-in-charge, says, “At WPA, we are avid supporters of Conserving Carolina and their mission to protect our environment and facilitate experiences with the natural world. We are excited to be an active part of this year’s Hiking Challenge because it will provide people with an incredible opportunity to be outside and to enjoy the beautiful place we are lucky enough to call home.”

Local businesses providing perks as part of the prize package include Appalachian Coffee CompanyLazy Otter OutfittersMurphy’s Naturals, and YAM Yoga and Massage. 

This challenge is free and open to all. However, to earn your award package and White Squirrel Patch, you must also be a Conserving Carolina member. Individuals who donate $35 or more, or households that donate $60 or more annually, are Conserving Carolina members. Conserving Carolina members can take pride as they hike, knowing that they are helping to protect amazing places like these for everyone to enjoy, forever. 

To learn more about the Hiking Challenge and get started, go to conservingcarolina.org/hiking-challenge-6 

In addition to the White Squirrel Hiking Challenge, Conserving Carolina also offers the Flying Squirrel Outdoor Challenge. The Flying Squirrel Outdoor Challenge offers a wider variety of outdoor activities and can be tailored to any ability level. In this challenge, people choose 8 out of 13 outdoor activities. The options include moderate hikes, bike paths, greenways, waterfalls, scenic overlooks, forest bathing, and volunteer workdays.   

Conserving Carolina is a local land trust that has helped protect nearly 46,000 acres, including 27 places where people can get outside—from vast wilderness areas to local greenways. The mission of Conserving Carolina is to protect, restore, and inspire appreciation of the natural world. Learn more and become a member at conservingcarolina.org. 


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