Sliding Rock North Carolina Fun

Sliding Rock Natural Water Slide in North Carolina

This part of North Carolina, in the western part of the state, is well known for its lush mountains and waterfalls. In the Brevard area alone there are more than 250 named waterfalls (Do you know the two that are on the Rockbrook Property?). Some of these waterfalls are quite remote and hidden, but others are popular places for swimming.

The most famous example of these waterfalls is Sliding Rock. This is a place in the Pisgah National Forest where Looking Glass Creek cascades about 60ft over a smooth sloping rock and drops into a deep pool at the bottom. The Forest Service has developed it into an organized recreation area so it can provide parking, lifeguards and first aid services during the busy summer months. In the last few years, Sliding Rock has become so popular the Forest Service has begun charging a small fee to use the area.

The Rockbrook Middlers and Seniors take a trip to Sliding Rock most sessions. We go at special times when the area is less crowded and we always bring our own additional lifeguards. It’s a great mountain experience for the girls, and when you top it off with a trip to Dolly’s Ice Cream stand, it really can’t be beat.

You’ll have so much fun, you might raise your foot in excitement!

Rockbrook and the NC Cherokee

Cherokee Lost Settlement near Rockbrook Camp

If you’ve been to Rockbrook you know how it’s located in an amazing place— tucked between two prominent rock faces, surrounded by forest on three sides and bordering the valley formed by the French Broad river on the fourth. Add to that the two freshwater creeks, two waterfalls, and the two caves, you begin to understand how unique it really is.

But did you know that Rockbrook was also the site of a Cherokee settlement? That’s right; a Native American town called Kana’sta was located right near camp. This photo is a marker telling a bit about it.  The plaque says:

Site of CONESTEE, Legendary Lost Settlement of the Ancient Cherokee Nation. Visited by British Troops in 1725. Disappeared 1777. Erected by Cherokee Historical Ass’n, Transylvania Historical Ass’n, Unaka Chapter, Daughters of American Colonists.

There is also a Cherokee story telling of the Kana’sta settlement leaving its town to go and live with another Cherokee group.  Two visitors arrive one day and offer to let the Kana’sta people come and live in their town “where we are always happy.”  It is a story of why the Kana’sta “disappeared.”

It’s so interesting to think about the rich history of this part of North Carolina.  Long before European settlers arrived, a group of Cherokee recognized its special character and made it their home. Today, hundreds of years later, it is home to all of us at Rockbrook.  Pretty cool.

Brevard North Carolina Ranks

Outdoor Kids in Brevard

Back in August, Backpacker Magazine published a list of “The best cities to raise an outdoor kid.” And guess what! Our very own Brevard, North Carolina ranked number 20 in the list. These are the best places in America to “beat Nature Deficit Disorder.” That’s not too surprising when you think about all the incredible outdoor opportunities available nearby: all the Pisgah forest trails, great rock, and nearby whitewater rivers. It’s also one explanation for why this area is so fantastic for a summer camp.

Rockbrook is fortunate to be located here in the mountains of western North Carolina, and you can bet we take full advantage of the many wonderful outdoor destinations nearby.  Trips to Sliding Rock, sea kayaking on Lake Jocassee, whitewater rafting on the Nantahala, rock climbing on Cedar Rock, swimming at the bottom of High Falls in the Dupont State Forest… And so many more.  These are just a few of the truly special experiences made possible by the forests near camp.

If you can’t live hear and raise your kids here, then come to camp here! It’s amazing.

NC Camp from the Air

Western North Carolina Camp Aerial View

Our friend Carroll Parker dug this photo out of his files and emailed it to us the other day. Carroll grew up around Rockbrook because his father helped Mr. Carrier build the camp back in 1921. This aerial view of the camp shows western North Carolina and all it offered back then— the thick forests, streams, the “ever-bearing raspberries,” the French Broad River horseback riding ring, tennis courts, chicken coop, horse barn, gardens, and an apple orchard.

It’s fascinating to see what western North Carolina and Rockbrook Camp looked like back 1920s and 30s. Stay tuned, we’ll be posting more archival photos soon.

Saving North Carolina Hemlocks

Beetle Treatment for Hemlocks

There is a pest, a small insect native to Japan called the “hemlock woolly adelgid,” that is threatening the health of hemlock trees all across the eastern United States. From Maine to Georgia, along the Appalachian mountains and Piedmont, hemlock trees are dying, and unfortunately Rockbrook has not been immune. Perhaps 75% of the hemlock trees at camp (and we have a lot on our 200+ acres) have been infected. You can easily tell because the insect produces a white wool-like substance at the tips of the trees’ branches.

Initially, scientists attempted to control the woolly adelgid using chemical insecticides, but now there is a growing consensus that a particular Japanese lady beetle, Sasajiscymnus tsugae (“Sassie”), can provide effective biological control of the pest. These small, pinhead-sized black beetles eat exclusively adelgids and a few aphids. They evolved alongside the aldelgid in Japan, and are, as it turns out, a very effective and very specific predator. The U.S. Forest service conducted several years of testing and has now embarked on a large scale effort to release colonies of the Sassie beetle in infected areas. It is somewhat difficult, time-consuming and costly to raise colonies of the predator beetle, but their long-term effectiveness in controlling and even reversing the damage done by the woolly adelgid has been remarkable.

Working with Dr. Patrick Horan, Rockbrook Camp is treating its hemlocks with multiple colonies of the Sassie beetle. We’ve picked more than a dozen trouble spots (like the trees shown here near the Junior Lodge) as starting points, but as the beetles mature and reproduce, we hope they will spread and attack the woolly adelgid throughout the camp. It takes several months, even years to see the benefits of the beetles’ work eating the adelgids, but we’re excited and hopeful to see the results.

P.S. One of our release sites is up on Dunn’s Rock where there are some of largest known examples of Carolina Hemlocks.

Kids Camp in North Carolina

Kids Camp Sea Kayaking NC

Here are a few of our “seniors” up on Cascade Lake. It’s just a few minutes from our North Carolina kids camps near the Dupont State Forest, and is a wonderful place to bring the sea kayaks. We put in on one end of the lake, geared up with PFDs and long double-bladed paddles, and paddle to the other end to see Hooker Falls, an awesome waterfall. You can paddle the boats right up to where the water comes crashing down form this 15 foot tall set of falls. For some here in North Carolina, sea kayaking has become their favorite outdoor adventure activity at camp!

Cold Frosty North Carolina Morning

Barn covered in frost

Nurse Jenny recently snapped this photo of the land sports barn. We liked it and thought you’d enjoying seeing a “winter view” of camp.