Holmes Educational State Forest: This living outdoor classroom in NC is perfect for a day of exploring

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Have you visited Holmes Education State Forest near Hendersonville, NC? KAG’s Elizabeth Lambert visited the park with her family and has all the information about the trails to hike, and things to do and see at Holmes Educational State Forest.

Are you looking for a crowds-free place to take your family on a sunny spring day? I was able to spend a beautiful day at this forest near Hendersonville, NC with my kids, picnicking, hiking, and exploring. We weren’t able to experience everything it has to offer due to Covid-19 precautions, but what we saw, we loved. From an out of commission NC Forest Service helicopter and a Labyrinth to gorgeous views and exciting wildlife, there truly is something for everyone at Holmes Educational State Forest.

Here are some more ideas for day trips in Western NC!

What is Holmes Educational State Forest?

According to the Holmes Educational State Forest website, Holmes Educational State Forest has been a place for visitors to learn about the local plant and animal life since 1977. Entrance into the forest and all programs are completely free. The forest has multiple trails in varying degrees of difficulty, lovely streams, mossy bridges, and many educational features. 

Things to do at Holmes Educational State Forest

Walks and Hikes

Crab Creek Trail

The Crab Creek Trail is a 0.5 mile gravel path that winds around a grassy area that was once a small tree nursery. There is an out of commission NC Forest Service helicopter and a tractor to see although they are blocked off and are not for playing. Kids will love running through the Bluebird Labyrinth though! There is also a pretty pollinator garden on this trail.

Soil and Water Trail

The Soil and Water Trail is a very quick and easy walk along wooden boardwalks through the forest aquatic ecosystem.

Talking Tree Trail

A favorite with kids, the 0.5 mile Talking Tree Trail has 7 information stations, or “talking trees” along its path through the lower part of the forest.

Forest Demonstration Trail

The most strenuous and longest trail, the Forest Demonstration Trail is a 3 mile loop where hikers can go from the bottom of the forest to the top. This trail is the one we hiked and while it was pretty tough, especially the steepness at the beginning, it was totally worth it. There is an observation deck, a peaceful pond, and some forest management exhibits along the trail.

Picnics

There are many shaded picnic tables and areas to choose from and there is a really nice covered picnic shelter that can be reserved for day use.

Group Camping

The forest does have a campsite, but it is strictly for use by reservation and is only for youth groups. Call to make reservations for your school, church, or scout group.

Forestry Center

The Forestry Center is a small educational building located a short way up the main trail, close to the picnic shelter. We weren’t able to go inside but from what I’ve been told, it has lots of information for kids about the kinds of products that come from trees. There is also an example of how to count tree rings, and a cute forest wildlife diorama.

We got front row seats to a wildlife show of our own when we stumbled upon this snake sunbathing in the leaves!

Public Events

The forest has a number of outdoor education workshops that are hosted by the ranger. These can be attended by anyone and include topics such as Investigating Your Environment and Tree Identification. You must sign up for these programs in advance.

There are also free school programs hosted at the forest. Teachers and group leaders can choose from a number of topics all about the forest environment. The classes discuss trees, wildlife, and the natural resources of the forest.

Visiting Holmes Educational State Forest

Hours

March through October
Tuesday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

November through February
Tuesday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday Closed

Location

1299 Crab Creek Rd
Hendersonville, NC
828.692.0100

Check out our list of things to do in Hendersonville, NC.

Have you visited Holmes Education State Forest yet?

Elizabeth Lambert
About the Author
Elizabeth Lambert moved to the Upstate in 2013 and immediately fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. She enjoys taking her three kids hiking and camping and is an aspiring gardener. As one of the founding Branch Ambassadors of Hike it Baby Greenville, she loves being active in the community and is so excited to continue that by working for Kidding Around Greenville.

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