Venture off of the beaten path for a couple of hours …

10:00am – 2:00pm

Explore the biological and cultural diversity of the Highlands Plateau.  Our Forays are designed to complement the Zahner Lectures and explore the topics in much more depth, so if you want to learn more then join us for a Foray!  Each Foray is led either by Station staff or by professionals from local conservation organizations.  Additional information will be posted on this page as it becomes available.



You will receive additional information from us after you register for a Foray and before the scheduled date of the event.

Click here. You will be redirected to a secure site.

Members of the Highlands Biological Foundation receive a discount on registration fees. To become a member, or renew your membership before registering for Forays, please click here or call (828) 526-2221.

You may download the brochure here (PDF).


Frequently Asked Questions

What time are Forays held?

10am to 2pm (Exceptions: Float Trip: 10am to 4pm; Cedar Cliffs Foray: 9am-2pm)

Where should we meet?

Pine Street Park in Highlands. Plan to arrive 15 minutes early, at 9:45am (Exception: Cedar Cliffs Foray – 8:45am).

Is lunch included?

Lunch is included in the following Forays: June 20, July 25, August 15. For all other dates, please bring a bag lunch with you.

What should I bring?

Please bring a bag lunch (see above), comfortable walking shoes, bottled water, both rain gear and sun protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses), and a bag with which to carry your belongings.

How are we getting there?

We will carpool to each location.

Will we receive more information?

Yes, after you register and before the Foray, we will e-mail you with additional pertinent information.


June 20     Drift Trip Down the Little Tennessee River (10am-4pm)

Led by Jennie and John Stowers

Float down the Little Tennessee River with your friends from the Highlands Biological Station. Either kayaks or canoes available, along with instruction from an experienced guide. A catered lunch of local organic foods will be supplied. Please be sure to bring drinking water, both rain gear and sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen) and comfortable shoes. Your lunch will be included. Cost: $40 for members, $50.00 for non-members. 10am-4pm.


June 27     Fish Foray

Led by Jason Meador, Land Trust for the Little Tennessee

The southern Appalachian Mountains support one of the richest freshwater fish faunas in North America, and are part of an extensive southern/southwestern area that has well over 600 species. This program will explore (hands-on) the ways in which scientists assess water quality based on the critters living within a stream, and how these data are important to help achieve conservation goals. Please bring a bag lunch, drinking water, and both rain and sun protection. We will provide waders.

Cost: $15 for members $20 for non-members.


July 25     Southern Highlands Reserve*

Led by Kelly Holdbrooks, Director, Southern Highlands Reserve; and Ezra Gardiner, Horticulturist, Highlands Biological Station

Join us for a guided tour of Southern Highlands Reserve, which is dedicated to sustaining the natural ecosystems of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the preservation, cultivation and display of plants native to the region. The tour will include the rooftop gardens, wildflower labyrinth, and many other native gardens, as well as the propagation facilities and greenhouses. Enjoy a catered lunch in the rooftop garden. Cost: $40 for members, $50 for non-members.


Aug. 1     Fungi Foray*

Led by Mr. Jay Justice, field mycologist; and Dr. Rich Baird, professor, Mississippi State University

Join Jay and Rich on a foray to a nearby spot to explore the fungi of our area. Rich has been collecting fungi in order to study forest health and ecosystems for over 30 years, using the Highlands Biological Station as his base since 1980. Jay has studied fungi for over 30 years and, last year, received the 2013 Best Amateur Mycologist award from the North American Mycology Association. Jay co-founded the Arkansas Mycological Society, and devotes much of his time to fungi forays and walks across the country. Please bring a bag lunch, drinking water, rain gear and comfortable shoes. Cost: $15 for members, $20 for non-members. *This Foray is full*


Aug. 15     Cedar Knob Foray*

Led by Dr. Gary Wein, Executive Director, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

* this trip will depart at 9am from Pine St. Park

Join Dr. Gary Wein, Botanist and Executive Director of the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust, on an adventure to explore a “Montane Red Cedar Woodland,” a rare and underappreciated plant community  that contains many endangered species and is dominated by stunted, old red cedar trees. This site in particular is home to rare and unusual plants such as round-leaf serviceberry, granite-dome goldenrod and dwarfed red cedar trees. Cedar Knob is very dry so it  also supports a high diversity of reptiles. Please bring comfortable shoes, and a bottle of water.  A bag lunch will be provided. The walk will be moderateley strenuous, but less than a mile (uphill). Cost is $30 for members or $35 for non-members.


Aug. 29      Salamander Foray

Led by Kyle Pursel, Stewardship Coordinator, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust

Join herpetologist Kyle Pursel to search for and identify salamanders in the seeps and streams of Standing Indian Campground near Franklin, North Carolina. This hands-on, interactive experience is best enjoyed with closed-toe shoes and clothes that are okay to get dirty. Please be sure to bring a bag lunch and water. Cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. For more information, visit


*Attention Plant Lovers

The Foundation has incorporated a series of excursions and lectures for native plant enthusiasts into the Zahner Lectures and Foundation Forays. An * above denotes Forays that focus on plants. Participants will be immersed in various aspects of botany and gardening/landscaping with native plants, and all proceeds benefit the Highlands Botanical Garden.