The rocky outcroppings and cascading waterfalls of Hickory Nut Gorge make it an ecological treasure of national significance in the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Located just 15 miles southeast of Asheville, Hickory Nut Gorge is home to 37 rare plant species, while its caves provide habitat for rare salamander and endangered bat species and its steep slopes and high peaks host an array of bird species.
In 2005, the NC Division of Parks and Recreation agreed to permanently protect a portion of this exquisite landscape by creating a new state park at Hickory Nut Gorge. This new addition to the state's conservation lands will be managed to preserve the region's remarkable natural communities and to ensure that the public can freely enjoy the wilderness for generations to come.
To date, more than 3,000 acres in the Gorge are under conservation protection.
A key acquisition in the region is the 1,568-acre World’s Edge tract, which was purchased by The Nature Conservancy and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. World’s Edge contains a mile-long stretch of steep slopes on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment near Lake Lure, and includes more than 20,000 feet of streams and waterfalls.
Organizations working to protect this natural treasure have formed the Hickory Nut Gorge Planning Group. Members, in addition to TNC, include: The Access Fund; Carolina Climbers Coalition; Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy; Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina; North Carolina Natural Heritage Program; North Carolina State Parks; Rutherford Outdoor Coalition; and the Upper Broad River Protection Program.
Public Natural Areas
Chimney Rock State Park