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

Tellico Bald

12,527 acres NCMT; 5,451 acres PWA

Recommendation: This entire Mountain Treasure Area should be placed in Special Biological Area management or Backcountry Management Area

Naturalness: This 12,522 acre high altitude area is characterized by dense, high elevation old-growth forest. 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 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.

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. Additional historical values date back to Cherokee history. 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.

Opportunities for Solitude/Backcountry Recreation: The Appalachian Trail bisects the area on a north-south axis. The Cold Spring Trail Shelter serves hikers along this portion of the Trail. The Nantahala Hiking Club, the local maintaining Club of the Appalachian Trail, has expressed their support for all of the Mountain Treasure Areas along the AT to be recommended for Wilderness and are prepared to maintain the trail according to Wilderness standards. The Bartram Trail runs east-west and crosses the Appalachian Trail near the very southern end of this Mountain Treasure area at Wayah Bald. This is a key junction that allows for long-distance hiking loop opportunities in this region.

Ecological and other values: The Tellico Bald Mountain Treasure Area contains 1,846 acres of Old growth acreage. This area contains the following State Natural Heritage Areas:

Wayah Bald and Wine Spring Bald (NCNHP proposed for new priority SIA); part PWA not IRA; part MTA onlyBurningtown Bald/Cliff Ridge; part PWA not IRA; part MTA only

Manageability: as part of the Appalachian Trail corridor as well as an important piece of the connective corridor along the ridge of the Nantahala Mountains, this area requires a protective designation that would assure its roadless and natural character.

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.

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