Big Yellow Mountain
Views from Big Yellow Mountain. © John Warner

Places We Protect

Big Yellow Mountain Preserve

North Carolina

Big Yellow is a grassy bald, unique amongst its neighbors in the Southern Blue Ridge.

ABOUT

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.

CONSERVATION HIGHLIGHTS

The Nature Conservancy acquired this tract in 1975 from the Avery family, who had owned it since 1785. Today, TNC and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy jointly manage the 395 acres.

Flora and Fauna

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.

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.

Guided hikes

Guided hikes of Big Yellow are periodically offered with both TNC and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC). If interested, please contact TNC at 828-350-1431 or SAHC at 828-253-005.