This year, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center will offer two hiking programs: the challenging Swannanoa Rim Hike Series and the more moderate Valley History Explorer Series. There will be three informational meetings for interested parties to learn more about the programs: at the Swannanoa Valley Museum on Tuesday, January 9, at 6:30 p.m.; at REI Asheville on Wednesday, January 10, at 7 p.m.; and at Black Dome Mountain Sports in Asheville on Thursday, January 11, at 7 p.m.
The Swannanoa Rim series, now in its ninth year, explores the peaks of the 31- mile Swannanoa Rim through 11 hikes, held on the third Saturday of each month from January to November. The series was conceptualized by Wendell Begley, a Black Mountain native and chairman of the museum’s Board of Directors. Each hike ranges from three to eight miles and is led by a veteran hiker. Since 2010, museum guides have led 77 Rim Hikes with about 2,700 participants.
Joe Standaert, head of the museum’s hiking committee, has finished the Swannanoa Rim series six times. In 2018, Standaert will be leading the Montreat East Ridge Rim segment and the Pinnacle of the Blue Ridge segment of the series. “This series has always been about educating folks on the local history and geography,” Standaert says. “We emphasize seeing and learning about the valley and its local history.” He adds that community building has become a major part of the series for both new and veteran hikers. “Hikers meet each other, hike with each other every month and then meet each other in the community,” Standaert says.
While the Swannanoa Rim series is made up of strenuous hikes best suited to experienced hikers, the eight hikes in the Valley History Explorer Hiking Series are about three miles each and more moderate. These hikes delve into the unique history of the small communities that shape the Swannanoa Valley. The Valley History Explorer hikes are held every second Saturday from March through October.
Each hike costs between $25 and $50 and fees support the nonprofit Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center. The museum also offers two donation-funded scholarships for the hikes.
Detailed information about each series and descriptions of the individual hikes are available at swannanoavalleymuseum.org. To learn more, contact the Museum at 828.669.9566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.