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Bluff Mountain Preserve

2,087 acres in Ashe County

Scenic beauty, unusual landforms, and extraordinary botanical variety in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Open to the Public


Things To Do

Hiking / Birding / Wildflowers View All

Plan Your Visit

This Nature Conservancy preserve is accessible through a locally based guide, Kelly Clampitt. Email Kelly at to schedule a trip to this incredible site. View All


Ashe County

Size in Acres:


Topographical Map:


Topographical maps are available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey, 1612 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1612, (919) 715-9718,

Ownership & Access:

This Nature Conservancy preserve is accessible through a locally based guide, Kelly Clampitt. Email Kelly to schedule a trip to this incredible site.

Conservation Highlights:

Bluff Mountain's inaccessibility has protected it from major disturbances. Shortly after the North Carolina Chapter office opened in 1977, the staff began working with the mountain's owners, the Wyn Edwards and Mac Edwards families of West Jefferson, to explore a way to protect the fragile area for conservation. The Nature Conservancy purchased 701 acres of Bluff from the Edwards family in 1978. The chapter continues to work to protect this entire natural area, having expanded the preserve as recently as 1998.

A walk around Bluff Mountain offers scenic beauty, unusual landforms, and amazing botanical variety. Although relatively small in size, Bluff is one of the most ecologically significant natural areas in the Southeast. Hiking on Bluff, in just a few dozen steps you can walk from a Carolina hemlock forest to a dwarf red oak/white oak forest to a rare flat rock plant community. A broad, high plateau containing an unusual wetland, a southern Appalachian fen, adds to Bluff's unique character.

Bluff Mountain lies in the Blue Ridge division of the Appalachian Mountain Range in Ashe County. It is part of a local mountain chain, including Three Top and Phoenix mountains, that is characterized by a substrate of mineral rich rock called hornblende gneiss. The gneiss is unusually rich in minerals such as calcium and potassium that provide important nutrients for plants.

A fertile home for over 400 species of plants, including Indian paintbrush, Gray's lily, fringed gentian, spreading avens, and sundew, Bluff Mountain is known for its changing floral show from April through October that includes 25 endangered, rare, or threatened flowering plant species. The high-elevation hardwood forests of Bluff provide ideal nesting habitat for many neotropical migratory bird species such as black-throated green warbler, veery, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager, and blue-headed vireo. During field trips in the spring, you may hear the distinctive drumming of ruffed grouse. Elusive bobcats den in the shelter of rocky outcrops, while ravens are often seen soaring over the cliffs.

Hiking / Birding / Wildflowers

Guided hikes are given April through October. Please see our Field Trips section or email Kelly Clampitt at

This Nature Conservancy preserve is accessible through a locally based guide, Kelly Clampitt. Email Kelly at to schedule a trip to this incredible site.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

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Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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