The Cantrell Creek Project

Pisgah Trout Unlimited (Pisgah TU) received a grant of $8,000 through the Trout Unlimited Embrace A Stream grant program for its Cantrell Creek Trail Project and raised additional funds, including several large awards, by participating in the Embrace A Stream Challenge, sponsored by Orvis and Trout Unlimited.

The Cantrell Creek trail crosses Cantrell Creek 9 times and portions of the trail are located in the creek channel.  Repeated traffic results in significant erosion and sediment load to downstream reaches.  Having the trail located in the stream channel disturbs and destroys instream habitat every time the trail is used.  Benthic macroinvertebrates are dislodged or killed, fish are displaced and sediment washes downstream and fills the interstitial spaces in the creek bed.

This project involves a diverse group of partners including the US Forest Service  (USFS), the Land of Sky Chapter of TU (LOSTU), the North Carolina State Council of TU, Mills River Partnership (MRP), and Mountain True. It is through cooperation between many diverse partners that big projects like this can be accomplished. 

Portions of the trail in the upper reaches of Cantrell Creek follow an old railroad grade constructed in the early 1900’s for timber harvest.  This is the section of trail to be relocated.  The lower section of trail was upgraded about 20 years ago.  This is the section that will be upgraded to current sustainable trail standards. Relocating and upgrading the Cantrell Creek Trail will greatly reduce the erosion and sediment load in Cantrell Creek and Mills River. This will improve the health of Cantrell Creek and Mills River.

The project was completed in 2019 and hikers and bikers are enjoying the new-aligned trail. The previous trail was “de-commissioned” by the Forest Service and vegetation has re-colonized the area providing a beneficial buffer between Cantrell Creek and the trail. Within weeks of project completion, wild trout were abundant in newly-created habitat.






Project Details
Cantrell Creek enters the South Mills just upstream of the Transylvania/Henderson County line.

To reach it is a 4 mile trek from the Turkey Pen trail head.



The project was completed in 2019. Our Conservation Committee is currently working with our partners to develop future projects. Thanks to the financial contributions to the Pisgah Chapter, and donations of hundreds of hours of volunteer effort, we can accomplish projects like this to protect and enhance coldwater habitat that trout require.

Coming soon.

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