Highlands Biological Station is open to visitors. Masks are still required in the Nature Center, but are no longer required on campus, including the Botanical Garden. Highlands Biological Station is offering academic and public programming this summer. For the safety of the HBS summer community, before being permitted to work or study at HBS prospective summer students, teaching faculty, and researchers must provide documentation of (1) having received a Covid-19 vaccine or (2) a negative Covid-19 test taken within 3 days of planned arrival.

 

Gathering Spaces on Campus

Whether you are looking for a spot to take a break from exploring our trails or to have a little picnic, we have a perfect place for  you! All of these locations are available for walk-in visitors, but please note they are occasionally reserved for visiting classes, research groups, or Station/Foundation events. Other public groups can rent our facilities if their purpose falls under our mission of “fostering research and education focused on the rich natural heritage of the Highlands Plateau, while preserving and celebrating the integrity of the “biological crown of the southern Appalachian Mountains.”

For inquiries about reserving a space on campus for your group, please email the Program Assistant at wford@wcu.edu

 

Facility Use Guidelines

  • Bears are a common visitor to HBS, and some of the local bears have been known to mock-charge picnickers at nearby parks so they can eat their food. To reduce the chances of a bear encounter, please only eat at the locations below and dispose of all trash in a bear-proof trashcan. Additionally, always lock your car doors before leaving to make sure bears don’t open them and search for leftover food in your car.
  • Other than bears, we have lots of other wildlife at the Station. Do NOT feed the wildlife as this can cause them to lose their fear of humans and potentially even become aggressive. Additionally, feeding wild animals can cause them to become malnourished or sick.
  • Our only public restrooms are located inside of our Nature Center which is closed seasonally. Please plan accordingly.
  • If you need to heat up your food, you can bring a small camp stove and set it up one of the picnic tables. You are responsible for cleaning up any leaks or spills.

Our Outdoor Facilities

Amphitheater

Our amphitheater is a large, open space located just behind the Nature Center.  It consists of five grassy terraces lined with stone, perfect for sitting after a nice hike or gathering groups together in a natural area.  It also features a stage area with butterfly and salamander photo stand-ins for a great photo opportunity.

Cook Pavilion

The Cook Pavilion, made possible through the generous support of Mountain Findings, is located just passed our amphitheater along the edge of the meadow.  It provides a nice refuge from the sun and rain, and it features several picnic tables that can easily be transitioned into benches depending on your need.

Meadow

Our meadow is a large, open area surrounded by our Plants of the Cherokee garden and Native Grass Garden. It is also available for gatherings.  Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic while observing native birds and pollinators visiting the area and then gather everyone to play a game of Cornhole.

"Sto" Teaching Pavilion

The “Sto” Teaching Pavilion rests on Lindenwood Lake and when it is not being used as an outdoor classroom, it is a nice spot to relax and enjoy the view. In the warmer seasons it is an ideal perch to watch fish and Common Snapping Turtles. Waterfowl, such as Mallards, are on the lake nearly year-round. Funding for the pavilion was made possible thanks to generous donations to the Highlands Biological Foundation.

Ilges Overlook

The Illges Overlook is a cozy picnic spot where the old Illges Cottage used to sit. Spread a blanket on the lawn or sit at one of our two picnic tables while enjoying view of Lindenwood Lake. This site is located off of Lower Lake Road, just across from the north entrance to HBS.

Picnic Tables

We have picnic tables located outside of Weyman Building and the Nature Center available on a first-come, first-served basis.