North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Help Protect the Vulnerable Wildlands of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests
 

Bald Mountain

23,616 acres NCMT (11,599 acres in NC); 10,980 acres PWA (NC); 22,988 acres IRA (10,971 acres in NC)

Recommendation: Entire Mountain Treasure area as Backcountry Management Area/Special Biological Area

Naturalness: The Bald Mountain area lies on both sides of the main ridge of the Appalachian Mountain chain and the North Carolina–Tennessee state line. The acreage in both states adds up to make this the largest Mountain Treasure area and largest inventoried roadless area in the two states. It is the second largest IRA in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Years ago portions of the high elevations were cleared to provide summer pasture for cattle. Settlers gave these places such colorful names as Ballground. Outlines of the pastures are still identifiable in some places. There were skirmishes here and in the adjacent valleys during the Civil War, and gravesites of those who lost their lives are still visible. However, the areas also contain tracts of existing old growth forest. Rock outcrops give expansive views, particularly near Camp Creek Bald and at Big Butt.

Opportunities for Solitude/Backcountry Recreation: With the largest acreage of any IRA in the Southern Appalachians, the Bald Mountain area has excellent opportunity for solitude with areas that are seldom used and difficult to access. The Appalachian Trail (AT) follows the ridge crest for over 15 miles, with three shelters along the route. Several side trails provide access to the AT from both North Carolina and Tennessee. One of the most unusual is the trail from Green Ridge Knob down Dry Creek. The eponymous Dry Creek runs underground for long distances.

Ecological and other values: The Bald Mountain area is one of the most significant natural areas in the Southern Appalachians. It also is part of a crucial wildlife corridor along the main Appalachian Mountain chain. The area provides a route for adaptation from south to north, but it also provides essential elevation gradients from low elevation to high elevation. As such the area plays a key role in any coherent climate adaptation strategy.

The hemlock boulderfield between Whiterock and Baxter Cliffs, though declining due to hemlock wooly adelgid, is one of the most spectacular in the region; peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs above.

Two SNHAs are located wholly or partly within the extensions: Whiterock Cliffs

Black Pine Ridge

Manageability: The Bald Mountain area is defined by the domination of its high bold ridgeline. Road infrastructure approaches the area from lowlands on both the NC and TN sides, but the rugged landscape has limited road access to the higher elevations. One road (FSR 42) does provide access to the NC/TN ridge to the south.

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