/ Community Engagement, Trails and Recreation,

New White Squirrel Hiking Challenge Launched

Boulders on Strawberry Gap Trail
Strawberry Gap. Photo by Gordon Tutor.

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. White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 7 includes a stunning new trail in the Hickory Nut Gorge, a waterfall in North Carolina’s newest state forest, the breathtaking World’s Edge cliffs in Chimney Rock State Park, and more. 

Hikers who take the challenge will get to experience eight special places, including some that only opened to the public in the last few years. They will discover hidden gems away from the crowds, experience lovely waterfalls and mountain views, and connect on a deeper level with our natural world. They can also earn a prize package that includes their White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 7 patch as a badge of honor and exclusive perks from local businesses that support conservation.    

The eight hikes are: 

  1. Bearwallow Mountain Trail
  2. Strawberry Gap Trail 
  3. DuPont Loop: Quarry and Rocky Bald 
  4. World’s Edge in Chimney Rock State Park 
  5. Green River Game Lands Loop to Stairstep Falls 
  6. Gravely Falls in Headwaters State Forest 
  7. Foothills Equestrian Nature Center Trails 
  8. Alexander’s Ford in Bradley Nature Preserve 


Bearwallow Mountain. Photo by Leah Swann.

Each of these hikes is a testament to how land conservation can enrich all of our lives. For example, when Headwaters State Forest opened to the public in 2018, it created a new 6,730-acre wonderland to explore. Bearwallow Mountain and Strawberry Gap are both part of the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail that Conserving Carolina is spearheading—a growing network of trails that will ultimately span over 100 miles. Other hikes are on public lands that Conserving Carolina has expanded with recent projects. 

White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 7 is sponsored by the conservation-focused 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.” 

This challenge is free and open to all. However, to earn your White Squirrel patch and perks from Mast General Store, 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-7. 

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.   



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