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

Tellico Bald

Tellico Bald

Approximate Size: 12,522 acres

Old growth acreage: 1,846 acres

Location: Macon County, NC; 10 miles northwest of Franklin; Wayah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest

USGS Topographic Maps: Wesser, Wayah Bald, Alarka, Franklin

This high altitude area is characterized by dense, high elevation old-growth forest. In the fog, or when ice-rimmed, the trees present a fairyland appearance. FS 7114 penetrates the area from Kyle to the west, and ends at the ridge crest. The eastern portion of this road, down Burningtown Creek, has been closed and abandoned. The bed of FS 7114 is the most likely route of the Cherokee trading path from Cowee Town, capital of the Middle Cherokee, to Tellico, largest town of the Overhill Cherokee.

Burningtown Creek, a tributary of the Little Tennessee River, drains the east side of the area. Several small streams run off the west slopes, all adding their waters to the Nantahala River. Four central peaks–Burningtown Bald, Copper Ridge Bald, Tellico Bald and Black Bald, all over 5,000 feet in elevation–were probably large cattle pastures in pioneer days.

Turks Cap Lily. Photo by Lamar Marshall

The Tellico Bald Mountain Treasure is at the heart of one of the largest expanses of public land in the region. The special places in this mountain area are too numerous to name; however, the outcrops of Cliff Ridge and the Rich Cove Forest of DeWeese Creek are two examples. Unfortunately, much of this Mountain Treasure is zoned for timber production under the current Forest Plan and the area was impacted by the Horseshoe Timber Sale, which logged over 500 acres.

If this area is able to retain its unique values, it will need more conservation-minded management under the next Forest Plan. The Appalachian Trail bisects the area on a north-south axis. The Cold Spring Trail Shelter serves hikers along this portion of the Trail.

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