Pisgah, Nantahala, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forest


100 Otis Street
Federal Courthouse
Asheville, N.C. 28801
(704) 257-4200

The 1.2 million acres of National Forests in North Carolina include mountains, rolling piedmont hills, and the sandy pine forests of the coastal plains. The four Forests--the Pisgah, Nantahala, Croatan and Uwharrie provide a variety of vacation opportunities from the mountains to the sea.

The 495,000-acre Pisgah National Forest lies in the mountains of western North Carolina. It is named for the mountain from which Moses saw the promised land.

"Nantahala" is an Indian name meaning "noon day sun". Because the sun penetrates to the bottom of the Nantahala Gorge only at noon, the Cherokee called it the "Land of the Noon Day Sun". The Nantahala National Forest comprises 516,000 acres in southwestern North Carolina.

The Uwharrie National Forest covering 46,000 acres in the Piedmont northeast of Charlotte, received its name from German settlers in whose language ''Uwharrie" meant "New Home".

On the coast is the Croatan National Forest. This name was derived from the Algonquin Indian name for the "Council Town" that was located in the area. This Forest covers 157,000 acres between Morehead City and New Bern.

These different geographic locations result in a wide variety of landscapes and provide the visitor with many opportunities for both one-day trips to the Forest as well as for longer vacations.

The National Forests in North Carolina include over 1,300 miles of hiking trails, more than 800 campsites, 490 picnic sites, 7 swimming beaches and 11 wilderness areas.

Cradle of Forestry
Formerly a part of George Washington Vanderbilt's estate called"Pisgah Forest", the Cradle of Forestry in America (a National Historic Site) is an outdoor museum and monument to the birthplace of scientific forestry in the United States. Here, Dr. Carl Alwin Schenck, hired by Vanderbilt to oversee his vast private forest lands, established the Biltmore Forest School in 1898.

The Orientation Area at the Cradle of Forestry is open May 1st until November 1st, from 10a.m. until 6 p.m. Exhibits in the Center show the importance of forests in America's history from the time of the early settlers. A 20-minute movie depicts early campus life at the forestry school, which was in operation at this location from 1898 through 1909. A paved trail leads from the Orientation Area through the reconstructed campus. Several buildings are furnished and open to the public.

A second paved trail begins at the Orientation Area and follows the route of the "Biltmore Forest Fair", an event conducted by Dr. Schenck in 1908. Featured along this Forest Festival trail are an authentic Climax logging locomotive with logging cars, and a small portable sawmill, and demonstrations of forest management as practiced by Vanderbilt and Schenck.

Both trails are approximately one mile in length, paved, and an easy walk for most visitors. Allow at least an hour to visit each trail and its exhibits.

Forest Attractions
The Appalachian Trail winds about 200 miles across the mountains of the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Hikers do not need permits to use the Appalachian Trail on National Forest lands, but are required in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Maps are available at the National Forest offices in the area.

Cedar Point Tideland Trail offers an opportunity to view the ecology of an estuary. This National Recreation Trail meanders through hardwood and pine forests, crossing a tidal marsh area on boardwalks. Located three miles east of Swansboro on NC 58.

White Oak River is a slow-moving, meandering scenic river on the Croatan National Forest with access from Haywood Landing. Shore birds, osprey, picturesque cypress trees, and an occasional alligator are some of the attractions you may see along this river.

Wasilik Poplar the second largest yellow-poplar in the United States, is named for John Wasilik, an early-day ranger on the Nantahala National Forest. It is located on an easily-hiked trail, three-fourths of a mile long. The parking area is located at Rock Gap on Forest Road #67 two miles north of Standing Indian Campground near Franklin.

Wayah Bald is noted for its outstanding display of wild azaleas in June. Blossoms range from white to a deep red orange, including many soft pastel colors of yellow and pink. The historic Wilson Lick Ranger Station is located along the road to Wayah Bald. Located fifteen miles northwest of Franklin on NC 1310.

Whiteside Mountain Trail a National Recreation Trail, takes you to the top of the mountain named for its white granite face, which contains magnificent sheer cliffs up to 750 feet in height. This mountain offers a panoramic view of the valley below, and of distant mountain peaks. Located five miles east of Highlands on US 64.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest , now a part of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, is dedicated as a living monument to the memory of Joyce Kilmer, poet and author of the poem"Trees".

Roan Mountain Gardens are famous for outstanding displays of purple rhododendron during June. Excellent views, picnic facilities and interpretive trail. Located ten miles north of Bakersville on NC 261.

Wisemans View is a scenic observation area offering outstanding views of Linville Gorge, Table Rock, Hawksbill Mountain, and Shortoff Mountain. Parking area and a paved trail suitable for handicapped use are available.

Densons Creek Nature Trail interprets forest management in the Piedmont. This trail, with a 3/4 mile and a 2 mile loop, begins and ends at the Ranger Station near Troy, North Carolina.

Glen Falls Scenic Area features a scenic 50-foot waterfall where the river drops over a sharp ledge. The view of Blue Valley from this area is a significant attraction also. A short trail from the parking area leads to the falls. Located 2 miles south of Highlands on NC Hwy 106.

Dry Falls on the Cullasaja River plunges over a rock shelf, visitors can safely walk behind the torrent of falling water. Parking available. A paved trail with safety fences leads to the falls from the parking area. Located on US Hwy 64, 3 miles west of Highlands.

Whitewater Falls drops more than 400 feet in a spectacular series of cascades. Located on NC Hwy 1149, 9 miles south of Sapphire. Parking and toilet facilities are available.

Leatherwood and Bald Springs Falls a pair of 100-foot waterfalls on Fires Creek. Picnicking is available. Falls located on Forest Road #1244, 10 miles north Hayesville.

Walker Falls cascade over rocks for 75 feet. Located adjacent to Walker Cove Research Natural Area, 10 miles east of Barnardsville on Forest Road #74.

Douglas Falls , located in Craggy Mountain Scenic Area, drops straight down for 70 feet. These falls, named for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, are 13 miles east of Barnardsville on Forest Road #74. The road ends at the parking area, where a trail leads to the falls.

Looking Glass Falls is an unbroken rush of white water 30 feet wide, dropping 60 feet. Steps lead from the parking area to the bottom of the falls. Located 9.4 miles north of Brevard on US Hwy 276. More waterfall trails along the Blue Ridge.

Moore Cove Falls are twin falls about one mile north of Looking Glass Falls on US Hwy 276. A foot bridge crosses the creek beside the highway providing access to the falls. Falls located about 300 feet up trail from the parking area.

Hunting and Fishing
Hunting and fishing are allowed under State regulations. Check with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for licenses, regulations, and seasons. The address is 512 Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27611, telephone 1 -800-662-7137.

Campground Information
Croatan National Forest Campground Guide provided by the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Uwharrie National Forest Campground Guide provided by the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Pisgah National Forest Campground Guide provided by the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

District Ranger Stations

Croatan National Forest
141 E. Fisher Ave.
New Bern, NC 28560
(919) 638-5628

Uwharrie National Forest
Rt 3, Box 470
Troy, NC 27371
(919) 576-6391

Nantahala National Forest
Cheoah Ranger District
Route 1, Box 16A
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(704) 479-6431

Nantahala National Forest
Highland Ranger District
P.O. Box 38F
Highlands, NC 28741 (704) 526-3765

Nantahala National Forest
Tusquitee Ranger District
201 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28906
(704) 837-5152

Nantahala National Forest Wayah Ranger District
Rt 10, Box 210
Franklin, NC 28734
(704) 524-6441

Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah Ranger District
1001 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(704) 877-3265

Pisgah National Forest
Grandfather Ranger District
P.O. Box 519
Marion, NC 28752
(704) 652-2144

Pisgah National Forest
Toecane Ranger District
P.O. Box 128
Burnsville, NC 28714
(704) 682-6146

Pisgah National Forest
French Broad Ranger District
P.O. Box 128
Hot Springs, NC 28743
(704) 622-3202

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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