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

Daniel Ridge

11,819 acres NCMT; 9,303 acres PWA          

Recommendation: This entire Mountain Treasure Area should be placed in backcountry management within a recommended Pisgah NRA

Naturalness: The Daniel Ridge Area lies along the Blue Ridge Parkway just across the Parkway from Shining Rock Wilderness. Devil’s Courthouse, a prominent rock outcrop, which is very significant in Native American stories, looms over the area. Courthouse Falls is a dramatic 45 foot waterfall in the southwest portion of the area. The lower portions of the Daniel Ridge area have seen some logging in the past few decades, and some of these areas have maintained road access. These areas with existing maintained road access would be good candidates for ecological restoration. However, the core of this area fully qualifies as a potential wilderness area and should be maintained to conserve its roadless and backcountry values.

Opportunities for Solitude: The ruggedness of this area lends itself to solitude. For example, mountain bikers are able to find solitude on trails like Farlow Gap, and hikers can find it on the Art Loeb trail.

Opportunities for Primitive Recreation: Numerous trails provide opportunity for hiking and mountain biking in the area. The Art Loeb Trail, which runs from Cold Mountain in Shining rock Wilderness to the Davidson River campground traverses the area. The Mountains to Sea Trail follows the upper portion of the area near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The area is used extensively for backcountry use and forms an important backdrop for the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Devils Backbone observation area.

Courthouse Falls in the southwest portion of the area is a very popular destination for many visitors.

Ecological and other values: Old growth and the rare Pinkshell azalea (Rhododendron vaseyi) are found in the area. The area contains existing old growth and part of the area is a large patch old growth area under the existing Plan. The area includes two Significant Natural Heritage Areas that should be fully protected for their biological values:

Devils Courthouse (NCNHP proposed for new priority SIA) in PWA Pisgah Ridge/Pilot Mountain

Manageability: The Daniel Ridge area adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway and forms a critical portion of its viewshed. Much of the area is unroaded or contains only unmaintained roads. These roads within the core of the area are also on steep slopes and slopes prone to landslides (at least two historical landslides are documented in the area). Protection of the core of this area for its ecological and recreation values within backcountry or similar management is the only management option that makes fiscal, and environmental sense. This area would be one of the highlights of a larger Pisgah NRA.

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