Visitor Center

The Cradle of Forestry


Due to recent weather events, a portion of the Forest Festival Trail is being re-routed. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

11250 Pisgah Hwy.
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-3130

Open Daily (7 days per week)
10:00 am – 5:00 pm


$8/adult (13+)
$4/child (4–12)
$4/Federal Passholder

Complimentary Cradle Season Passholders
Purchase Season Pass

Mailing Address
49 Pisgah Highway, Suite 4,
Pisgah Forest 28768
Have you been here?

This 6,500-acre site in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC was established to “preserve, develop, and make available to this and future generations the birthplace of forestry and forestry education in America.”

The Cradle of Forestry in America is nestled in the Pisgah National Forest along the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.  Our trails offer visitors a chance to explore seven historical buildings from the time of the Biltmore Forest School (1898-1914), climb aboard and ring the bell of a 1914 Climax logging train engine, and interact with historical interpreters through programs and special events. Inside our Discovery Center you’ll find our gift shop bursting with nature-themed books, clothing, toys and crafts, a spacious theater playing a short film about the history of our site, and an interactive exhibit hall. You can also view the mature American Sycamore Apollo Moon Tree on our campus. Learn more at Apollo Moon Trees.

View Cradle Map →

Share information with your friends or learn more  Cradle Rack Card

The site is family friendly however, please note that all children must be accompanied by adults at all times while on site.


From Asheville, NC, keep right at the fork to continue on I-26 E. Take exit 40 for North Carolina 280/Asheville Reg’l Arpt toward Arden. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for WNC Agriculture Ctr/Airport and merge onto NC-280 W/Airport Rd/New Arpt Rd. Merge onto NC-280 W/Airport Rd/New Arpt Rd. Continue to follow NC-280 W. Pass by Taco Bell (on the right in 15.8 mi). Turn right onto US-276 N. Turn right onto Cradle Dr.

FIND Your Next Adventure

  • Forest Place Gift Shop
  • The Cradle Cafe (Temporarily Closed)
  • Discovery Center/Exhibit Hall
  • Community Science Lab
Things to do…
  • Paved Trails with Interpretive Exhibits
  • First in Forestry Movie
  • Climax Steam Train
  • Guided Hikes
  • Weekly Public Programs

Educational Activities

Jr. Ranger Program

The Jr. Ranger program at FIND Outdoors introduces visitors to the seven Leave No Trace principles in a fun and easy to understand way. Each FREE booklet provides games, things to talk about around a campfire, and different “Ranger Missions” to explore each of the Leave No Trace principles.  

Ask about becoming a Jr. Ranger the next time you visit a FIND Outdoors site!

Find Outdoors Tours

FIND Outdoors Tours & Field Trips

Education is integral to FIND Outdoors mission, we offer educational programs, field trips and tours at all of the visitor centers and campgrounds we manage. Whether you use our self-guided Junior Ranger booklet to become a Leave No Trace advocate or visit with a school field trip, we love seeing children, adults and families explore, learn about and enjoy their public lands.

Learn More →

Get your Visitor Center Passport!

Pick up a complimentary FIND Outdoors Visitor Center Passport at any of our managed visitor centers — Anna Ruby Falls, Brasstown Bald, Cradle of Forestry, Gladie Visitor Center and Pisgah Visitor Center. Then stop by all five to collect your passport stamps.

When you’ve got all five stamps, email to receive a prize!

Additional Information

National Forest App

Download the National Forest App before you visit. This free app offers maps of the Pisgah district and the Cradle’s 3 miles of interpretive trails. It also includes an “I Spy” Guide to interest children and adults along the trail, an audio tour of the historic Biltmore Campus trail, and more.

Why is the location called the Cradle of Forestry?

The 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry Historic Site in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina, commemorates the beginning of forest conservation in the United States. On this site in 1898, Dr. Carl Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, founded the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in America.

What is the Biltmore Forest School?

The Biltmore Forest School was the first school of forestry in North America. On the Cradle site in 1898, Dr. Carl A. Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, founded this school of “practical forestry”. The goal of the school was to teach responsible forest management to local men in the timber industry, primarily as a reaction to the extensive and indiscriminate deforestation of the area in the late 19th century.

May I Bring My Dog?

Well behaved leashed pets are welcome at all of our sites. We ask that your pet remains leashed and under your control at all times. We would also ask that you clean up after your pet. Please note that animals should not be brought to or attend evening/night events like the Blue Ghost Firefly Twilight Tour. 

Are wheelchairs available for use at the Cradle?

Wheelchairs are NOT provided at the Cradle of Forestry.

Information about Trails and Accessibility:

The Cradle of Forestry/Discovery Center building is wheelchair friendly. Inside the building, visitors have the opportunity to watch a movie in the spacious theater playing a short film about the history of forestry and our site, explore the Discovery Center with a number of interactive exhibits on forestry, the Biltmore Forest School, Community Science interactive activities and more, shop in the gift shop where we offer environmental education materials, maps, nature-themed books, books by local authors, clothing, toys, nature-related gifts and local arts and crafts. Additionally in the building, visitors can view a number of maps of the Cradle property, information about forestry, Smokey Bear and other engaging and interesting exhibits. One in particular is the Pinchot Wood Slab Exhibit connected with the 1893 World’s Fair.

Directly outside the Cradle Discovery Center, you can view the mature American Sycamore Apollo Moon Tree, a water feature along with other points of interest that are easily accessible without difficulty. Individuals could probably also view the School House replica building utilized by Dr. Carl Schenck and the students of the Biltmore Forest School.

Beyond that, the site also offers approximately 5 miles of paved walking trails. These trails were paved several years ago and as the earth shifts, tree roots grow and as other natural challenges happen, the surface of the trails are affected as well. These trails are deep in the forest, so leaves, roots, limbs, rocks and debris are a natural occurrence. Additionally, the trails have steep inclines and drops, turns and meanderings that make it more difficult to traverse.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Beautiful Downtown Brevard
  • Hiking in the Pink Beds
  • Looking Glass and Moore Cove Falls
Please, be sure to #RecreateResponsibly so that your public lands can be enjoyed for generations to come!

Love the view?

You can help ensure that sites like this remain available for generations to come.