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

Jarrett Creek

Jarrett Creek

Approximate size: 8,975 acres

Roadless acreage: 7,500 acres

Old growth acreage: 4,180 acres

Location: McDowell County, NC, 5 miles northeast of Montreat; Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest

USGS Topographic Maps: Old Fort, Montreat

The beauty of Jarrett Creek places it in the top 10 of all creeks on the Pisgah/Nantahala National Forest. The entire watershed is protected. In times of high water a hiker may have some difficulty crossing, but usually a little exploring will turn up a fallen tree to bridge the stream.

In the remote and steeper northeastern part of this area, the creeks are much more difficult to reach, and course down over low falls and cascades. Many of the high coves have old-growth stands of timber, bypassed because of the steep topography. In fact, the largest known tree on Pisgah National Forest, a yellow poplar 18 feet around and 122 feet tall, grows on an unnamed stream on the slopes of Laurel Knob. Other important biological resources include Carolina Hemlock Bluffs, extensive Table Mountain pine stands, and high quality cove forests.

Trails once crisscrossed the area. They followed gentle gradients and opened the area to full exploration. Regrettably, the Forest Service has abandoned most of them. This is an ideal place for volunteer maintenance crews to restore the old trails. The usual route into Jarrett Creek is by a trail that leads east from the Heartbreak Ridge Trail. After crossing a timber harvest road it deteriorates badly. Beyond Jarrett Creek, this now-unmaintained trail leads up a beautiful hollow to Star Gap, and from there down to Newberry Creek.

The most-used trail here is the Heartbreak Ridge Trail which follows a long ridge from the Blue Ridge Parkway to a turn onto 21 switchbacks that lead down to Pritchard Creek and out to a road on Mill Creek. The steepest trail is that up Snooks Nose, which leads from the Curtis Creek Campground to the Blue Ridge Parkway and across to the fire tower on Green Knob. Another abandoned trail leads from upper Newberry Creek through ancient forest to the Parkway.

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