The Pink Beds, Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, NC
Updated: Sep 9
The Pink Beds are located in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. Coming from either Brevard, Asheville, or Etowah you will want to take Route 276 North for 11 miles up the mountain. You’ll pass several picnic areas, Sliding Rock Recreation Area, the Cradle of Forestry, Looking Glass Falls. The Pink Beds parking lot and trail head will be on your right. Coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, you turn at Milepost 412 and travel approximately 4 miles
on Route 276 South. The Pink Beds will be on your left.
The Pink Beds loop starts from the parking lot and picnic table field and covers 5.3 miles. This is a very well maintained trail thanks to the volunteers at The Pisgah Conservancy
About 3/4 mile in you will hit the zigzag boardwalks over what was once a beaver pond. The beavers are gone, the pond has drained, vegetation is filling in, but there is still a running stream. There are several old, unused wood duck boxes. Soon after passing this very sunny area, we encountered a very thick, very angry, timber rattler, who was probably searching out sunny spots to warm up and digest his meal. Keep your dogs on a leash! This snake was 3-4 feet long and a small dog would probably die quickly from a bite. These snakes are not a joke.
About a mile in you will cross the Barnett Branch Trail and South Fork Bridge. This trail allows a shorter hike, we didn’t try it.
The trailhead map declared it an easy hike but I would classify it as easy to moderate overall. There isn’t a steep elevation change overall but there are hills and dips. I forgot my hiking sticks and regretted not having them, particularly on the slippery clay and mud spots.
You will want to wear waterproof boots as dozens of muddy seepage areas intersperse the wide, dirt packed trail. Exposed roots are everywhere, another reason you will want boots instead of sneakers. There were very few rocks underfoot, and minor elevation change overall. However, once again, if you are acclimated to sea level (as I am) you will find that you huff and puff more on this trail, elevation approximately 3200 feet.
In normal, non-pandemic times you can enjoy a picnic or cook-out in one of the covered picnic shelters where grills are available, throw a frisbee in the meadow, and wash up in the bathrooms, running water and potable water available.
However, these are not normal times.
We hiked in May, 2020, and all National Forest facilities were closed. There was a trash dumpster in the parking lot which was being maintained by grounds crews even though all the Visitor Centers were closed. Forest Rangers had also tractored several fire breaks in the area. We passed a burned area that had been contained.
I heard several warblers singing on territory: black-and-white, ovenbirds, parula and more. In addition to a pileated woodpecker, we saw & heard at least one kingfisher on the stream run. Several tiger swallowtails and other butterflies fluttered around us, a group massed at a mineral lick near the stream.
Ferns, mosses, lycopodium or running cedar, Indian pipe, end-of-season trillium, galax, orange flame azaleas and blooming mountain laurel everywhere. The Pink Beds are named for the stunning mountain laurel and rhododendron blooms.
Rhododendron thickets, or “hells”, were everywhere. Even on a hot day, you’ll find shade and cool air on this trail. Bring a rain poncho, it’s rainy more often than not.
The massive hemlocks are dying due to wooly adelgid, an invasive pest.
We stopped for lots of photos and completed the loop in approximately 3 hours.
Sent from my iPhone