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

Wesser Bald

6,657 acres NCMT; 5,703 acres PWA; 4,009 acres IRA

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

Naturalness: The Wesser Bald Area contains recovering forest in good condition with 1,339 acres of existing old growth.

Opportunities for Solitude: The area has exceptional opportunities for solitude through the many recreation opportunities.

Opportunities for Recreation: This area is a key recreational point, providing access to the Appalachian Trail from the Nantahala River Corridor. The AT runs north to south through this area along the main ridge, with an AT shelter in the center. North of the shelter the Trail descends quickly to a bridge over the Nantahala River at Wesser. This is the location of the Nantahala Outdoor Center and a place for AT through hikers to get mail, showers and supplies. Advocacy by the Nantahala Hiking Club has resulted in the U.S. Forest Service installation of a viewing platform on the old Wesser Bald fire tower which provides outstanding 360-degree views. There is another outstanding view toward Cheoah Bald and the Nantahala Gorge from the “Jump Up” where the AT makes its first real plunge downward into the Gorge over a rocky spine several miles north of Wesser Bald.

The Wesser Creek Trail (the old AT) splits from the AT just north of Wesser Bald and drops very steeply via switchbacks into a deep cove with cliff headwalls. This area is good for spring wildflowers and big trees. There is a closed road north from Tellico Gap and its new parking area to Wesser Bald. The AT takes a much longer route from Tellico Gap to the top to achieve gentler grades.

Ecological and other values: This area contains 1,339 acres of Old-Growth forest, and one State Natural Heritage Area:

Wesser Bald

Manageability: Of 6,655 acres in the Wesser Bald Mountain Treasure Area, 4,094 acres are Inventoried Roadless. 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. Areas to east of Wesser Bald are in need of prescribed fire and yellow pine restoration, and invasive control is needed along Tellico Road south of Wesser Bald.

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