Southern Appalachian Mountains
Greater Roan Highlands
SIZE IN ACRES:
INVOLVEMENT IN ACRES:
Topographical maps are available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey.
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
OWNERSHIP & ACCESS:
Both The Nature Conservancy and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy periodically offer field trips to the preserve. Visit our Field Trips page or contact the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, 34 Wall Street, Suite 802 Asheville, NC 28801-2710, (828) 253-0095.
At 5,540 feet, Big Yellow’s open, grassy bald peak offers a vantage point from which you can look out over range after range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Part of the Roan Highlands, Big Yellow is a grassy bald, an unusual community type resembling a high-elevation pasture and found between 5,200 and 5,800 feet on dome-shaped summits and ridges. Possibly remnants from the last ice age, these "sky islands" have a principally northern climate in a southern location and harbor unique species requiring a cool climate and lots of sunlight. The origin of the balds is unclear, but they were probably formed by a variety of factors, such as climate, grazing, and human-ignited fires.
The Nature Conservancy acquired this tract in 1975 from the Avery family, who had owned it since 1785. The Conservancy transferred some land to the U.S. Forest Service. The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy jointly manage the 395 acres.
FIELD TRIPS TO BIG YELLOW:
Here is some of what you might see on a field trip to Big Yellow. (Please note, this mountain is only available through field trips with TNC and SAHC - see above for contact information.)
WHAT TO SEE: PLANTS
Three-toothed cinquefoil and mountain oat grass are the predominant vegetation on Big Yellow. An abundance of wildflowers, including Gray’s lily, Turk’s cap lily, and fringed phacelia, are found on the bald and in the surrounding forests from the spring to the fall. The largest known southeastern population of Schweinitz’s groundsel is found in slightly sheltered, steep, hummocky areas on the preserve. This plant is a northern disjunct species found on a few grassy balds in North Carolina.
WHAT TO SEE: ANIMALS
Several species of shrews, moles and weasels have been seen at Big Yellow, along with larger mammals such as black bear and bobcat. Monarch butterflies often congregate in large numbers here during their fall migration in September and October. The bald is also a fine vantage point for observing migrating raptors in the fall, including an occasional golden eagle.
While Big Yellow is not open to the public, the nearby Greater Roan Highlands can be accessed from Carver's gap.