Pisgah BCH of NC – Building Sustainable Highline Systems

What do you do when a wonderful place to camp with horses is being “loved to death” and the ground becoming a boggy mess? Why you team up with your land manager, work out some plans, roll up your sleeves and get to work!

The Back Country Horsemen of North Carolina , Pisgah chapter (Pisgah Ranger District near Brevard, North Carolina) had a favorite place to stage their work in the South Mills River area, but degradation of the camp was causing the Forest Service to think about cutting off access. Due to the long standing partnership with the Rangers, in 1995 a study was done and strategy was created to make Wolf Ford a model for primitive horse camping.

Thirteen graveled sites with picnic benches, fire rings and lantern holders with a “his n hers” sweet smelling toilet were just the start. How to address the boggy area where horses were high-lined without confining them to tie stalls had quite a few scratching their heads. But with all the wisdom of years of construction, horse know-how and financial backing from the NC Horse Council, the members of BCH of Pisgah came up with a great diagram for the answer.

The sustainable high line had to elevate the horses above the duff but be soft on their feet and economically feasible while fitting into the natural beauty of the camp. Treated 4″x6″ timbers create a frame of 4’x6′ boxes filled with crusher run and topped with 3/4″ thick stall mats. A 7′ high cable strung between 6″x6″ poles allows the horses to be centered on the high line but able to move 360 degrees freely.

Work by the members with another grant from the NC Horse Council just completed 3 more of the 9 current systems, with 4 more to go to give each of the 13 sites their own sustainable high lines.

Hopes are to get this horse camp on the reservation system in the future but for now, first come, first served for a spot. The amazing trails accessed from this area make Wolf Ford Horse Camp a must see on your bucket list.

3 Responses

  1. gary press
    | Reply

    Do you have any pix of the finished project? Is the highline centered over the 6ft wide boxes? Are mats only over the box area? So horses front feet are on box with mats and rear feet in gravel?

    • Christine Vigue
      | Reply

      Gary, if you want more photos and construction design, feel free to email me personally. I wrote the last NC Horse Council Grant and took pictures at the work days. We finished our last highlines this past November.

      Christine Vigue

  2. Deirdre
    | Reply

    Hey Gary. The footprint is 8×30′ and the high line is centered over the 8′. We’ve found that the horses tend to stay entirely on the mats and that even if they don’t, the majority of damage done is by their front feet. Using 4’x6′ stall mats, you’re using 10 mats total, with them laid with the 4′ side touching. I’d be happy to send more entire plans to any specific address. I believe we did submit finished pictures & posted them on FB page, as well.

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