Turkey Tail Mushroom near river cane

Horn of Plenty Mushrooms. Smell like Apricots

Chaneterell Mushroom

 Graham County is one of the most wonderful spots on the East Coast of the United States to see mushrooms, lichens, mosses and ferns. All year long the mountains and valleys are filled with beauty, but you have to train yourself to look. For years, I hiked the trails and explored the stream banks and reveled in the birds, the trees and especially the wildflowers. Then I was introduced to my first wild-foraged mushroom by a friend of mine from Asheville, Mr. Alan Muskat. Alan came up to my property and led a mushroom hike to seek as many different mushrooms as we could find. I was astounded and fascinated. They were everywhere I looked!
Fungi can be large and tiny, range from bright blue to scarlet, and every color, shape and size between. I realized that all these years I had just not noticed them. I discovered that fungi are as much fun to seek out as wildflowers or birds and that Graham County was the perfect place to see and photograph them. To add to the fun, I learned the top ten, edible mushrooms that can be found here. It is thrilling to stroll out the back door and discover a gourmet mushroom that is sold for a high price at the grocery store. It can make you feel like royalty to dine on freshly picked mushrooms that you harvested yourself.
Many people have great concern about accidentally eating mushrooms that are poisonous. That is a valid concern. Just because something looks like it should be edible does not make it so. There are classes to be taken, guidebooks from which to learn and mushroom clubs available to join. If you plan to eat wild mushrooms you need to learn how to positively identify them.
Fungi can be found just about anywhere in the woods, but the best place to start is a trail that meanders along a mountain stream. Two of my favorites are Slickrock Trail, that is located quite close to the Tapoco Lodge along the Cheoah River, and the Stairway to Heaven Trail near the Fontana Resort. There is one important thing to remember. Mushrooms are not like wildflowers. They pop up and disappear in a day. When you discover a stunning group of tiny blue mushrooms nestled in green moss, stop and really focus on its beauty. Take a picture of it, or bring a sketch book and a pencil. Fungi photography is a growing passion in this country and there are Facebook pages studded with pictures of mushrooms and other fungi. The more you look, the more you will see. Palaces for fairies and ballrooms for elves can be spotted. A circle of white mushrooms in the middle of a pasture is called “A Fairy Ring”.
Several of our local restaurants can provide delicious mushroom appetizers, entrees and even desserts! Plan a few days, any time of the year, to enter a whole new world of beauty that few know exist. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails, Graham County is the perfect place to visit and soak in the peace and tranquility. The Appalachian Trail, The Bartram trail and The Benton MacKaye Trail can be explored here and you will find that you will feel refreshed and relaxed after spending a couple days walking slowly along forest paths and seeing, perhaps for the first time, the beauties of the mushroom kingdom.

Joyce Kilmer Forest
US Forest Service
Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts logo
Smoky Mountain Host of North Carolina logo
Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team logo
Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Area logo
Azalea Society of America logo
Graham County Historical Association logo
Friends of the Smokies