A Christmas Tree Expedition and Foothills Trail Run

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This year everything seemed to fly by and the holiday season is proving no exception. Thanksgiving came and went and suddenly we were a week into December with no Christmas tree.  Every year since we got married, David and I have gone somewhere special to pick out a Christmas tree and chop it down.  It’s unnecessary and sometimes overpriced, but it’s also a really fun tradition. I highly recommend just going for it, at least once. The last two years we have gone to a place called Zeigler’s in Brevard, North Carolina. It’s family run, beautiful, isolated in the middle of Pisgah National Forest, and very reasonably priced.

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We were headed there this year with the intention of snagging a tree and catching a run in the mountains on our way home, but daylight was fading quickly. As we were sorting through our options, we stumbled upon another smaller farm right along the road and decided to check it out. The trees looked so perfect and they were advertised as the highly desirable Fraser firs. We decided it couldn’t hurt to do a price check and ended up getting a gorgeous 10-11 foot tree for $45!  It was such a cool Christmas blessing, and since it was 45 minutes closer than the other spot we had enough daylight for a quick run on the Foothills trail. 

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The Foothills trail is a legendary spot to us. We have heard several crazy stories about it–friends thru-hiking it over a weekend ending in tears of relief, others attempting it only to be thwarted by exhaustion induced illness etc. There have also been some amazing photos posted of it, vistas overlooking Lake Joccassee, plummeting waterfalls and winding single track trails.  This past weekend, we finally got our first taste of this spot and it was kind of by accident. We were headed up to get the Christmas tree when we decided to follow a large wooden sign that pointed to the Foothills Trail just to see where it took us and what it was like.

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In the parking area at the top of a winding dirt road, we found this weathered sign which pointed to Laurel Falls 8.1 miles away. We knew from some earlier research that this falls pours into the stunning expanse of Lake Joccassee. It was amazing to us that one of our favorite destinations was only 8 miles away down the Foothills trail. Since we only had about 30 minutes of daylight left after getting our giant Griswoldian tree hoisted onto the car, we did not make it to the lake; however, we did get a little taste of an awesome new trail that is just over an hour from Greenville. Now we are plotting a mild winter day excursion run to the lake and back. Who’s with us?

Getting There: Head up 178 N (Pickens Highway) toward Brevard.  A large wooden sign denotes the Foothills Trail on the left. The small Christmas tree farm is on your left about 10 minutes past this sign. If you reach signs for The Wilds camp (also on the left), you’ve gone too far by about a mile.

Running the Trail: Proceed up the winding dirt road past the wooden sign for about half a mile. It will lead you to a gravel parking area or the road continues (we did not explore beyond the parking area by car). On foot, head towards the continuing gravel/dirt road and almost immediately you will see signs for the Foothills Trail on the right and steep steps leading up from the road into the woods. Run out and back as far as you like following the white blazes.

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Look for adventure far and nigh!

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