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Every species is a genius.



The Blue Ridge Mountains harbor an abundance of bioluminescent life, from glow-in-the-dark mushrooms to lightning bugs and glowworms. Blue ghosts and synchronous fireflies are among the celebrated firefly species that only live in Southern Appalachian forests.

2024 Firefly Season is wrapping up, but you can experience foxfire and other night magic during our nature retreats and during Foxfire Walks in late summer. 

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To see Foxfire and other Nightwalks this upcoming season

At Snakeroot Ecotours, we seek the genius of each species and trace the relationships that make the Appalachian forest.

On our guided tours we invite you into astoundingly diverse habitats and reveal the mysteries of the Blue Ridge Mountains.


We offer custom full-day outings, overnights, nature retreats, seasonal nature walks, and youth programs.

In spring we search out the best wildflower coves and conduct blue ghost and synchronous firefly tours. During the summer and fall, we hunt for rare orchids, spectacular mushrooms, and search for foxfire at night

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From July to September, the Blue Ridge forest floor features thousands of species of mushrooms. Mushroom foraging and identification is front and center during the Summer Headwaters Nature Retreats. We schedule Mushroom Walks and Foxfire Nightwalks throughout the peak season. 


The Southern Appalachians are internationally renowned for botanical diversity. Our tours orient you to various local plant communities, and we highlight any bloom that is in season during our hikes. Spring ephemerals headline our Chasing Spring Nature Retreats, and we lead ephemeral and orchid walks through the spring and summer.

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Every major creek in the Black Mountains tumbles over 3000’ from the cloud forest to the South Toe River. We guide trips to hidden waterfalls and secret swimming holes in the Appalachian headwaters, where water temperatures rarely exceed 60 degrees, even during the warmest parts of the summer.

Cloud Forests

Cloud forests in North Carolina? WNC is home to a globally rare and threatened habitat – the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest. It is a temperate rainforest – more accurately, a cloud forest – that inhabits the highest mountaintops of the Blue Ridge. Our Cloud Forest Hikes explore these high elevation mossy forests.

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Want to book a guided tour for a small group?

Family enjoying a swimming hole under a waterfall

Book a Custom Outing

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Half or Full Day Outings

These custom guided hikes are for families and adventurous travelers. Hike up into the Black Mountains, finding unmarked trails, rockhopping up creeks. Hidden waterfalls, secret swimming holes, cloud forests, and rare plants and fungi. Each trip is tailored to the clients' interests and fitness level.

Red Eft Youth Camp

Summer Youth Program - Red Efts

A hiking day camp for

kids 8-11.

Forest immersion with lots of exercise, socializing, swimming in pristine mountain creeks. Education on how safely and respectfully interact with the landscape, and the vibrant mountain ecology of the Southern Appalachians.               

Guided Tours Black Mountains

Multi-Day Adventures

Join a small group of fellow nature-lovers -- led by a renowned local naturalist --

for a weekend exploring the magical summertime forests of the Blue Ridge.

Up in the headwaters of the east, outside of Asheville, NC, we tromp through cloud forests, old growth, and rich coves of wildflowers.

Tours Black Mountains



Naturalist Tours Asheville

Tal Galton

Owner, Naturalist, Lead Guide

A committed naturalist since early childhood, Tal has been introducing people to wild places for 30 years. He spent much of two decades teaching in the experimental and experiential environs of Arthur Morgan School and The Arete Project, and he lives with his family in a timber-frame home that he and his wife designed and built out of local white pines. Tal writes a column on Appalachian ecology for Asheville's Mountain Xpress, maintains certifications in WFA and CPR, coaches cross country at Mountain Heritage HS, has served on the board of the Burnsville-Yancey Chamber, and is a co-founder of the South Toe Conservation Fund.

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The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.

- Rachel Carson

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We support the South Toe Conservation Fund

South Toe Conservation Fund is established to conserve land in the South Toe Valley. STCF is more than a fund; it is a network of people working to protect and preserve the wild nature of the South Toe Valley. Snakeroot offers ecological property walks -- custom tours of your South Toe property. A number of these are available each year in exchange for a donation to South Toe Conservation Fund. Email or call us to arrange a tour of your property in 2024.  

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