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

Nolichucky Gorge

Nolichucky Gorge

Approximate Size: 5,644 acres

Old Growth Acreage: 745 acres

Location: Mitchell and Yancey counties, North Carolina, 25 miles northwest of Burnsville; Pisgah National Forest, Toecane Ranger District

USGS Topographic Maps: Chestoa, Huntdale

The Nolichucky Gorge Mountain Treasure lies within the steep, scenic gorge along both sides of the Nolichucky River as it winds from North Carolina into Tennessee. A companion Mountain Treasure area is in Tennessee, with the Nolichucky Gorge forming the boundary of this area. A North Carolina Natural Heritage area includes most of the gorge and extends to the rim.

Sunrise over mountains.

This wildland area is home to the very rare Virginia spiraea, a federally listed threatened plant, as well as other unusual plants such as necklace sedge and rock skullcap. A large area of verified old-growth (460 acres) stands on the slopes of the north side of the gorge and numerous candidate sites await further investigation. The Forest Service recognizes almost the entire area as a large old-growth patch.

A railroad line runs along the river in the gorge. The best form of protection is probably National Wild and Scenic River designation in combination with protection for the upper slopes of the gorge. The Nolichucky River through the gorge in North Carolina and Tennessee is very popular for rafting, kayaking, and other white water sports. The Forest Service recommended National Wild and Scenic River designation in March of 1994.

Surrounding lands outside the wild and scenic study corridor complement the lands closer to the Nolichucky River. Some of these lands have been logged in the past, but are contiguous to the core wild area and deserve protection. The Appalachian Trail runs through the Tennessee portion of the Nolichucky Gorge area.

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