Run with the Goats at WNC Nature Center - TribPapers

Run with the Goats at WNC Nature Center

Staff rendering.

Asheville – On Sunday, April 21, the Friends of the WNC Nature Center are hosting the fourth race of the Running of the Goats 5K and Nature Walk, which is always a fun event for those participating. The event will take place in and around the Center with several options for runners and walkers. This is a 3.1-mile course on a paved course on Azalea Road by the John B. Lewis Soccer Fields. Participants can catch a glimpse of the goats, bears, birds, and otters who reside at the Nature Center before heading out on the rolling course. Others can choose a non-competitive Nature Walk inside to enjoy the animals along the path. So that the animals do not become stressed, running is not permitted along the Nature Center Walk.

Be sure to register soon, as entries have been accepted since January and capacity is limited. The race bib grants you free access to the WNC Nature Center day of the race.

“The Running of the Goats 5k and Nature Walk takes place the day before Earth Day, so it’s the perfect time to get out in nature and celebrate this amazing place that we get to call home,” says Kate Frost, Executive Director at Friends of the WNC Nature Center. “We enjoy this annual event, as it’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, help save wildlife, and explore what the WNC Nature Center has to offer.”

The event was named “The Running of the Goats” because of the afternoon tradition at the WNC Nature Center where the farm animals leave the barnyard and run toward their stalls for their dinner. While the goats will not be running in the race, they will be on the sidelines to cheer on runners, as the first part of the course passes by the barnyard.

There will be a post-race party where race awards will be announced. 5k race medals and the coveted Goat Trophy will be presented to the top finishers in multiple age categories.

Seeing Wildlife Upclose

For animal lovers, the WNC Nature Center is the place to visit. Just a few miles from downtown Asheville, the Western North Carolina Nature Center is a 42-acre wildlife park, that provides a home for injured, orphaned, or imprinted animals that could not survive on their own. Sixty species of wildlife that live or have lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains reside there. If someone wants to introduce their child to the world of animals in a safe environment, this is the place to go. What a thrill for them to meet the red pandas Leafa and Phoenix, or see foxes, bears, wolves, bobcats, and cougars. A whole host of new arrivals and births have taken place since December. Over the past six months, almost twenty animals representing seven species have been born or brought to the Nature Center. In late April a large litter of critically endangered red wolf puppies were born. Soon after two coyote pups Cal and Walker arrived. A bobcat kitten Tufts joined the Nature Center in early August. He came from the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Banner Elk, North Carolina. Raccoons Grace and Frankie came to the WNC Nature Center in late September from Appalachian Wildlife Refuge. Visitors will have the added excitement of meeting these young animals and watching them grow up throughout the year.

Monthly Events

Monthly events happen regularly for children and adults to go behind the scenes to see the Nature Center. On April 13 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm, there will be a behind-the-scenes tour for ages 16 and up costing $35 for members or $40 for nonmembers. Brews and Bears is an after-hours summer event series where you can enjoy the WNC Nature Center in the evening with a beer, cider, or wine in hand. There are also food vendors and educational programming, along with popsicle enrichment for black bears Uno and Ursa! Brews & Bears happens the second Friday of the month on May 10, June 14, July 12, and August 9, from 5:30 to 8 pm.

Yearly membership to join the Nature Center is easy with many categories available. The Center is open from 10:00 am – 3:30 pm daily, 7 days a week, with the park closing at 4:30 pm. It is only closed on major holidays. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the gate—starting at $13.95 plus tax.