This peak is the driest high mountain in the Appalachians.
North Fork Mountain This peak is the driest high mountain in the Appalachians. © Kent Mason

Places We Protect

North Fork Mountain

West Virginia

Pike Knob Preserve and Panther Knob Preserve are located at North Fork Mountain.

Storm systems arriving from the Midwest have dropped most of their precipitation immediately to the west, leaving the mountaintop susceptible to drought and fire. 

What TNC Is Doing

The Conservancy is working to protect North Fork Mountain through land acquisition, education and restoration efforts.  The Conservancy:

  • Owns or manages 1,600 acres at its Pike Knob Preserve and nearly 3,000 acres at its Panther Knob Preserve. 
     
  • Has acquired 2,000 acres next to Pike Knob Preserve for the Monongahela National Forest. 
     
  • Is providing conservation and ecological management expertise to private land owners and public land managers.
     
  • Is controlling non-native, invasive weeds at Pike Knob.
     
  • Is studying the historic and ecological roles of fire at Panther and Pike Knobs.
     
  • Is classifying the ridgetop plant communities and determining their fire histories.
     
  • Is treating hemlock on private lands under conservation easement adjacent to Panther Knob.
     
  • Is adding more protected buffer lands around Panther Knob through Forest Legacy 'working forest' easements with private landowner partners and the Division of Forestry.
     
  • Is supporting the expansion of the red pine forest by allowing seedlings that are coming up in meadow to grow into a young red pine forest – restoring forest to some areas historically cleared for cattle grazing. 

The mountain supports the largest fire-maintained dwarf pine Woodland in the Central Appalachians, the southernmost native red pine forests, the region's highest-quality yellow birch-mountain-ash-mountain holly elfin woodland, the highest quality natural grass bald remaining in West Virginia, a block of acidic oak forest, and virgin red spruce forest. Additionally, visitors to the mountain will find it rich in its mixture of Eastern, Appalachian, and cold-loving plants and animals:  It supports the largest global population of the fire-dependent variable sedge, a large population of the globally rare white alumroot – which is known only from a few counties in West Virginia and Virginia – multiple populations of the globally uncommon Appalachian oak fern and Allegheny onion, several northern species at the southern limit of their ranges, and many other rare species.

The following activities are NOT permitted at Pike Knob Preserve:

  • Biking  
  • Camping 
  • Driving an ATV or off-road vehicle
  • Cooking or camp fires 
  • Horseback riding 
  • Removing any part of the landscape  
  • Geocaching

Support Our Work at North Fork Preserve

You can help us protect West Virginia's diverse plant and animal communities. The Nature Conservancy works at North Fork Mountain and beyond.