Southern Appalachian Mountains
"Bakersville, Carvers Gap, White Rocks Mountain" Available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey, 1612 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
(919) 715-9718 www.geology.enr.state.nc.us/
OWNERSHIP & ACCESS:
Pisgah National Forest
Appalachian Ranger District, P.O. Box 128, Burnsville, NC 28714. (828) 682-6146
Known for its rhododendron displays in late spring and early summer, this area contains ten miles of the Appalachian Trail that highlight the spruce-fir forests of Roan High Knob (6,286 feet) and the heath and grassy bald on Round Bald (5,826 feet). Heavy snow and "rime" ice occurring from December through April give the area an equally stunning appearance in winter, although access can be hazardous. The highlands also contain northern hardwood forest downslope from the spruce-fir forests and the balds.
Many small mammals and raptors frequent the area, with the New England cottontail, northern flying squirrel, and northern saw-whet owl near the southern extent of their ranges. Birding opportunities include some rare and local nesting species such as hermit thrush and alder flycatcher. Dozens of rare plants are found in Roan Mountain Highlands, including federally listed species such as spreading avens, Blue Ridge goldenrod, and mountain bluet. Other notable rarities found in the area include Gray's lily, bent avens, and Schweinitz's ragwort.
In the late 1970s, The Nature Conservancy helped protect portions of this unique area on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service. These purchases extended Pisgah Forest lands around Roan Mountain and are near Tennessee's Roan Mountain State Park. The Nature Conservancy and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy jointly manage nearby Big Yellow Mountain.
The Greater Roan Highlands can be accessed via the Appalachian Trail at Carver's Gap. From the junction of NC 226 and NC 261 in Bakersville, take NC 261 north almost 13 miles to Carver's Gap on the NC/TN line. Follow SR 1348, a two-mile spur road from Carver's Gap, to the Roan summit parking and trails. There is a $3.00 fee per vehicle for access to the top of the mountain. A trailhead for the Appalachian Trail at Carver's Gap goes to Round Bald. Another good resource on Hiking Roan Mountain is put out by HIKEWNC.
Places to Visit:
Big Yellow Mountain Preserve
Public Natural Areas
Pisgah National Forest