Series of seven hikes to explore Swannanoa Valley history

Photo courtesy of Swannanoa Valley Museum
Photo courtesy of Swannanoa Valley Museum

Press release from the Swannanoa Valley Museum:

Swannanoa Valley Museum Kicks Off 4th Year of Valley History Explorer Hike Series with March 2nd Interest Meetings

Black Mountain, NC – February 13, 2017 – The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will hold a free interest meeting on March 2nd with information about the Museum’s annual Valley History Explorer Hiking Series. These moderate hikes take participants outside the non-profit Museum’s walls and offer hikers unique opportunities to improve their knowledge of the landscape and the communities that form eastern Buncombe County.

The seven hikes in the Valley History Explorer Hiking Series take participants to some of the small communities that make up the Swannanoa Valley and delve into the unique history of the each of them, including Riceville, Bee Tree, Swannanoa, North Fork, Black Mountain, Montreat, and Ridgecrest. These hikes are both informative for natives seeking a connection with their heritage and newcomers hoping to gain insights into the region’s past.
Each hike is approximately three miles long over moderate terrain and is led by an experienced guide. “The leaders are very well-informed about the area,” says Juanita Bruce. “I’m not from here so the history of the area is very important to me. Stories about the first settlements, the water systems and how the settlers maintained their lives on the farms in these mountains, stories about the assemblies and the people are all wonderful parts of these hikes.” Participants who complete all hikes in the Valley History Explorer Series receive an embroidered Patagonia fleece at the end of the series.

“It’s a good way for newcomers to the area to get to meet people who live here and to really see where they are living now,” said hike leader Bonnie Nache. Many parts of the hikes are on private property and are not accessible to the general public.

Joe Standaert, Swannanoa Valley Hiking Committee Chairman, points out that some hikers travel to the area to participate. “The thing we have found from the previous years of the hikes was that being out there, being in the woods, builds a sense of comradery among the hikers. They really bond together in a way we never expected, especially among those who have hiked several times. The other volunteers and I have watched them building a community that goes far beyond the Museum.”

Prospective hikers can learn about the Museum’s hiking programs at a free informational meeting at the Swannanoa Valley Museum, 223 W. State St., Black Mountain on Thursday, March 2 at 6:30pm.
The Valley History Explorer Hikes are held every second Saturday from March through October. There is a participation fee for these hikes, which help sustain the non-profit Swannanoa Valley Museum as Buncombe County’s primary museum of general, local history.

For the fourth year in a row, the Museum will offer two donation-funded scholarships towards the cost of a hiking series to ensure that events are accessible to all who wish to participate. The scholarship is generously funded by donations from past finishers and community members interested in keeping history alive. To apply for a scholarship, applicants are invited to mail or email the Museum a 500-word essay explaining why they want to participate in the program, which series they would like to hike, and how the scholarship would help them participate, along with their contact information.

The Museum’s hiking programs instill a pride of place for hikers. The hikes engender a reverence of history and demonstrate the presence of the past in our daily lives. One hiker offered, “I have walked along some of the same trails as Daniel Boone and the early Cherokees. The Museum gave us the opportunity to take the road less traveled, and it truly has made all the difference.”

The first Valley History Explorer Hike of 2017 to Buckeye Cove will take place on Saturday, March 11th. This will be the first time the Museum has hiked in Buckeye Cove. With special permission from the Moser family, we’ll explore their mountain property in this unique community. The family is distinguished in the fields of Appalachian studies and folklore for their two generations’ collection of and scholarship in mountain traditions, particularly music, storytelling and plant lore, and as long-time educators in these fields.

Space on the hikes are limited, and hikers are encouraged to register early. Detailed information about each series and descriptions of the individual hikes are available at To learn more, contact the Museum at 828-669-9566 or email

About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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