Bluff is stunning and special to us. It's one of the first places we started working in North Carolina.
Bluff Mountain Bluff is stunning and special to us. It's one of the first places we started working in North Carolina. © Andrew Kornylak

Places We Protect

Bluff Mountain Preserve

Located at the heart of the New River headwaters, Bluff Mountain is one of the most ecologically significant natural areas in the Southeast.

Conservation Highlights

A walk around Bluff Mountain offers scenic beauty, unusual landforms, and extraordinary botanical variety. Although relatively small in size, Bluff is one of the most ecologically significant natural areas in the Southeast.

While hiking on Bluff, in just a few dozen steps, you can walkfrom 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 uniqe character.

Bluff Mountain is part of a local mountain chain characterized by a substrate of mineral-rich rock called hornblende gneiss. The gneiss is unusually rich in minerals like calcium and potassium that provide important nutrients for plants.

Bluff is a fertile home for over 400 species of plants, including Indian paintbrush, Gray's lily, fringed gentian, spreading avens, and the world's only known population of Bluff Mountain reindeer lichen. It boasts 25 endangered, rare, or threatened flowering plant species. The high-eleveation hardwood forests of Bluff provide ideal nesting habitat for many neotropical migratory bird species such as black-thraoted green warbler, veery, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager, and blue-headed vireo. During field trips in the spring, you many hear the distinctive drumming of ruffed grouse. Elusizve bobcats den in the shelter of rocky outcrops while ravens are often seen soaring over the cliffs.

History of the Preserve

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, currently managing over 3,800 acres as Bluff Mountain Preserve.

 

Guided hikes to Bluff Mountain Preserve are available May-October.

Bluff can be enjoyed either by participating in one of our scheduled hikes ($15/person; schedule below) or by arranging a private hike ($150/trip; 10-person limit).

The trail is a moderate, 3-mile loop with a 300’ elevation change, traversing the diversity of natural communities that make Bluff an ecological treasure. Hikes may be subject to cancellation if not filled or due to inclement weather. If hike fees pose a challenge financially, please contact the hike leaders to make special arrangements.

Scheduled hikes begin at 10 a.m.

Upcoming dates:
September 30
October 6, 14, 21

For questions and information about Bluff Mountain Preserve and our scheduled hikes, please contact Ashe County Steward Kelly Clampitt at spiritcanoelodge@gmail.com.

Topographical Map

Topographical maps are available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey, 1612 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1612, (919) 715-9718,
www.geology.enr.state.nc.us/.