By Valerie Hoffman
The Party Rock Wildfire that burned through thousands of acres from Nov. 5th through the 29th included sections of Buffalo Creek Park in Lake Lure.
As such, and in an effort to address potential erosion issues and repair trail damage, a portion of the main loop trail is closed until further notice.
The affected section, traveling counter-clockwise around the loop, begins at the main Y-intersection of the loop, starting at the right fork and extends to the intersection with the Eagle Rock Trail.
Hikers and mountain bikers can take the left fork at the Y-intersection and travel in the normal clockwise direction until they reach the barricade just beyond the Eagle Rock Trail intersection. The completed section of the Eagle Rock Trail remains open.
Once on site, the sections that are off limits are clearly marked with orange barricades and signage.
The park, which opened in 2014, featured five completed miles of a planned seven-mile hiking and mountain biking trail that the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy has been working on with the Town of Lake Lure.
The trail, once completed, will stretch from Buffalo Creek Park to Eagle Rock, on Chimney Rock State Park land.
The property and park project was funded by PARTF and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, including a conservation easement to prevent erosion in the watershed.
During the 25 day fire, many fire lines were bull dozed through numerous areas of the forested land, including Buffalo Creek Park.
The effort, which was a complete success, kept the fire from spreading further. As such, no structures or lives were lost. However, the bulldozing effort resulted in significant damage at Buffalo Creek Park.
Peter Barr, CMLC trails and recreational lands coordinator, compared the aftermath of the Party Rock fire to that of a storm.
Burnt limbs and sticks are strewn across the trail, and in some places, hollow trees burned from the inside have toppled across it.
Recently, Barr cleared charred wood and rocks from the trail while assessing the fire’s impact with David Lee, CMLC Natural Resources Manager, and Torry Nergart, Conservation Easement Manger.
Around 1,350 acres of CMLC land burned on two tracts, the Weed Patch Mountain tract and the Teaching and Research Reserve.
But Barr, Lee and Nergart are optimistic about what the fire means for the forest’s future.
By the time the trail opens in late spring or early summer, the forest should be bursting with new greenery.
While costly and dangerous, ecologists expect the fire to ultimately have a positive impact on the health of the forest.
The Town of Lake Lure is working closely with CMLC and other officials in addressing the damage. All are committed to returning the park to its previous position as a unique destination for mountain biking and back country hiking.
Learn more at townoflakelure.com