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

Tusquitee Bald

Tusquitee Bald

Approximate size: 29,177 acres

Roadless acreage: 13,791 acres

Old growth acreage: 3,990 acres

Location: Cherokee, Macon and Clay counties, NC; 10 miles east of Murphy; Tusquitee Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest.

USGS Topographic Maps: Shooting Creek, Hayesville, Topton, Andrews, Peachtree

The Tusquitee Bald Mountain Treasure is one of the largest, unprotected primitive areas in the Nantahala National Forest. Over 13,000 acres have been inventoried as roadless. The area consists of a horseshoe-shaped rim of mountains rising 1,900 feet on the southwest end of the horseshoe to 5,200 feet on the northeast end. Fires Creek drains the 15,000 acre interior basin, which is a bear sanctuary, a wildlife management area, and a North Carolina State Natural Heritage Area.

The only road access from outside the basin is from the southwest near Leatherwood Falls. To the northeast is the adjoining Piercy Bald Mountain Treasure area. To the southeast, the Boteler Peak area joins at Big Tuni Creek and the Bob Allison Campground.

Wilderness lover Rob Cox crosses an ice cold stream

The area is replete with hiking trails. The principal trail, and one of the premier backpacking trails in western North Carolina, is the 26-mile Rim Trail which circles the basin on the sometimes knife-edged ridge, affording excellent views. Chunky Gal Trail leaves the Tusquitee Bald area and runs southeast down Big Tuni Creek to the Boteler Peak Mountain Treasure area and on to join the Appalachian Trail at White Oak Stamp in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness.

The Old Road Gap Trail runs northeast from the Tusquitee Bald Area to the Piercy Bald Mountain Treasure Area, providing access here to the North Carolina sections of the Bartram Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

Trout fishing in Fires Creek and several other streams in the basin is excellent. The pristine waters of Fires Creek also supports several rare aquatic insects and rare bryophytes. The rare southern waters shrew inhabits the streamside zone as does one of the largest populations of the rare mountain camelia.

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