Probably many more people have heard of Holmes State Educational Forest and even know where it is than have ever bothered to go there. Most of those people probably saw signs for it on the way to DuPont State Recreational Forest, which is just down the road and attracts as many as 20 times as many visitors each year. The name of one forest sounding like “fun” and the other sounding like “school” might have something to do with that.
“There’s no doubt that DuPont will continue to draw many times the visitors than will ever visit Holmes, but if your idea of a nice walk in the woods includes fewer other people rather than more, that’s a good reason to plan a visit."
But if you like getting away from crowds, walking in the woods and maybe even learning a few things about the forest ecosystem, it’s worth making the effort to visit Holmes State Forest (and it does take a little more planning sometimes - it has more limited hours and access than DuPont, so check before you drive over there). Within its 235-acre grounds are a several trails plus a variety of points of interest including a visitor’s center with informative exhibits and a helicopter that used to be used fighting forest fires. Rangers conduct a variety of special programs and guided hikes throughout the forest season, which runs from spring to fall.
There are five trails within the forest, most of which are under a mile but which can be easily combined. The longest trail is the Forest Demonstration Trail, which runs about three miles and gains 500 feet on the way to the top elevation in Holmes. Certainly the most unique trail is the Talking Tree Trail, which has several audio programs installed along a half mile sharing information about the forest plant life.
Most of the visitors to Holmes State Educational Forest come as part of school or other
organized groups, but its facilities including a large picnic pavilion with a huge stone fireplace are free and open to all (reservations are required for facilities and programs). There’s no doubt that DuPont will continue to draw many times the visitors than will ever visit Holmes, but if your idea of a nice walk in the woods includes fewer other people rather than more, that’s a good reason to plan a visit.
How to Find It
Holmes Educational State Forest is located at 1299 Crab Creek Road in Hendersonville, about 20 minutes from downtown.
Web site: https://www.ncesf.org/holmes.html
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/R6FrzV5ZJZjyXscy6