Big Butt Mushroom Walk

Posted By on August 25, 2022

Big Butt Mushroom Walk

1.1 miles; 131 ft. total ascent; Black Mountain, NC

Another day another mushroom walk. Seems like this is the only way I get out into the woods anymore. Gotta do something about that. Anyway… This is the other end of the Big Butt Trail wildflower walk I did back in May. [Imma refrain from the incessant rap lyric quotes of that last post, mercifully.]

Pipevine Swallowtail (Genus Battus)

It’s a mushroom walk, right? So what catches my attention? Wildlife! This guy has a survival strategy similar to that of the Monarch butterfly, in that it feeds exclusively on the highly poisonous pipevine plant, which, besides being poisonous is also quite nasty tasting (I am told). Many of its cousins mimic its appearance to take advantage of that strategy, too.

Atop Mount Mitchell

Weirdly I did not get ANY mushroom photos. But once the main part of the collecting was over, our group decamped from the Blue Ridge Parkway where this hike originated, because according to park rules, we are not allowed to collect ANY mushrooms here. And just so you don’t think we’re a bunch of fungal outlaws, we absolutely did not collect anything until we passed the BRP boundary along the western edge of the Big Tom Wilson Preserve. So technically we collected in the Pisgah National Forest. Which we are allowed to do. Honest.

Anyway, the place we went to for the ID portion of the program was Mount Mitchell State Park. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi, at 6,684 feet. They have a lovely little gift shop/cafe just below the peak at the parking area, and then you can continue up about another 300 yards along a paved trail to the actual peak.

Mushroom collecting kit



After we all get back and have a spot of lunch, we put all of our individual finds into these little paper boat things, and then folks more knowledgeable than I spend several hours poring through mushroom ID books and inspecting the finds in order to identify them, filling out little slips of paper.

ID’d mushrooms

And here’s what that looks like. At the end of the day, one person, usually the foray organizer, volunteers to collect all the little pieces of paper and enter them into an excel spreadsheet that includes the date and place the specimen was collected.

I will admit that I kind of just come on these walks to find new hiking places and hang with a fun[-gi] bunch of people, after which I usually just skedaddle home. But everyone keeps warning me that if I keep it up I’m likely to get hooked on ID’ing myself. Time will tell…

You can find out more about the Asheville Mushroom Club from their website. More info about the Big Tom Wilson Preserve here, and Mount Mitchell State Park here. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.


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