Along for the ride: Cataloochee thrives amid warm weather, pandemic adaptations

Sun is shifting in and out of the clouds covering Cataloochee Ski Area on Friday, Jan. 14, as I catch a ride to the top of Easy Way with Greenville, South Carolina, resident William Oliver. It’s my first run of the day, but he’s been riding for a while now — and after the warm weather and closures that plagued eastern ski resorts in December, he’s enthusiastic about today’s snow report. 

Jackson looks at cost-saving options for pool project

Due to rising construction costs, estimates for the total cost of the new Jackson County Pool currently exceed the original $20 million borrowed  for the project by $1.5 million. During a Jan. 4 board meeting, commissioners reviewed cost-saving measures with principal architect Chad Roberson to help keep project costs as close to original estimates as possible.  

Discussions begin for Jackson skatepark

Discussions for a skatepark in Jackson County are set to begin in January when Parks and Recreation Director Rusty Ellis will bring the issue to the recreation advisory board. 

‘More than a road’: New superintendent discusses her vision for the Blue Ridge Parkway

Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Tracy Swartout made some of her favorite childhood memories traveling the 469-mile ridge road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since May, she’s been leading it as superintendent

Cashiers-Glenville recreation plan approved

Jackson County commissioners have approved a Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center Master Plan that will include the construction of a splash pad in place of the existing pool. The preliminary cost estimate for the entire plan is just under $2 million. 

State budget funds more trails, parks and conservation

Western North Carolina will see a new state park, rail trail and miles of backcountry paths following Gov. Roy Cooper’s Nov. 18 signature on the first state’s first comprehensive budget law since 2018.

Straight for the basket: Disc golf course will open soon in Cherokee

By the end of this year, a new championship-caliber disc golf course will debut on a wooded property along Raven Fork in Cherokee, right on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

Transformation on trail: Volunteers converge to secure Max Patch’s future

On a sunny Saturday in September, tall grasses wave a fringe atop Max Patch, framing mountain layers fading from ripened green to hazy blue. Blooming heads of goldenrod and aster dot the slope, a brisk wind whisking autumn chill into the sun-warmed air. Slope and shrubbery combine to create pockets of privacy on the open bald, fostering an illusion of wilderness that’s broken only when the white-blazed trail brings two travelers together.

It’s a wholly different scene than the one that sprawled across the mountaintop just one year ago, when Asheville artist Mike Wurman flew his drone over the bald to capture what became a viral image of 130 tents blanketing a trampled-down Max Patch.

Designs unveiled for Jackson pool

Waves, water and mountain streams will be key design elements at Jackson County’s new indoor pool complex, commissioners heard during a Sept. 14 work session  with the company carrying out the $20 million project. 

Lasting damage: Recreation impacts from Fred could linger for years

A week before Tropical Storm Fred unleashed historically high floodwaters on Western North Carolina, Greg Philipp was in Washington fighting the wildfires  now enveloping the bone-dry American West. Now, Philipp is the U.S. Forest Service incident commander for the aftermath of heavy rainfall that will impact favorite recreation sites in the Pisgah National Forest for years to come. 

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