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

Shining Rock Wilderness Extension

Shining Rock Wilderness Extension

Approximate size: 4,863 acres

Roadless acreage: 4,556 acres (2,583-Sam Knob; 1,973-Graveyard Ridge)

Location: Haywood County, borders Blue Ridge Parkway

USGS Topographic Maps: Waynesville, Sam Knob, Cruso, Shining Rock

The Shining Rock Wilderness lies north of the Blue Ridge Parkway and east across NC 215 from the Middle Prong Wilderness. Over 800 acres of land in Crawford Creek is protected by conservation easements held by the State of North Carolina. Logical extensions of protection to the south toward the Parkway are Graveyard Ridge, the Dark Prong drainage and Sam’s Knob.

Aldo Leopold: Author of A Sand County Almanac and one of the founders of The Wilderness Society.

The areas were improperly excluded from the wilderness when it was designated. Over the years, the Forest Service has tended to invoke outside sights and sounds too much in drawing boundaries for proposed wilderness. Beyond that, Congress has elsewhere resolved the issue by bringing wilderness boundaries right up to highways–in one case an Interstate highway.

Graveyard Fields and Tennant Mountain are managed by periodic burning to maintain them as laurel/blueberry balds, which provide hawk habitat and extremely popular blueberry picking in the fall.

Because of its popularity, the Shining Rock wilderness is heavily overused–a solid reminder that there is considerable public demand for wilderness recreation and not enough wilderness to satisfy it without compromising wilderness values, the wilderness experience or both.

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