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Just a short drive from Asheville, this is one of the best introductions to Bent Creek Experimental Forest.
This is an all-seasons route and it's "figure-8" shape allows for a shorter option without a visit to the Explorer Loop. According to the USFS, "Bent Creek Experimental Forest is the oldest federal experimental forest east of the Mississippi river".
Its creation helped the develop sustainable and standardized logging techniques across the entire country.
Before, lands were frequently abused and often clear-cut with no care for future use. What many don't know is that the surrounding Pisgah National Forest was also the first official National Forest under the 1911 Weeks Act.
Several miles to the northeast along Curtis Creek Road, a placard denotes the first official tract of land acquired—one that laid the foundation for modern-day public lands. This route begins at the Wesley Branch Trailhead near Lake Powhatan.
On a hot day, the lake provides a perfect opportunity to cool off after your run.
Done either direction, this loop pairs the Deerfield, Pine Tree, and Explorer Loops together.
The trails are well maintained, wide at times, and very well marked.
There are several small climbs along the way, but nothing substantial.