Pisgah National Forest

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Covering more than 500,000 acres of hardwood trees, the Pisgah National Forest is located entirely in the state of North Carolina, at the western edge.  It covers portions of Brevard, Asheville, and the French Broad River valley.  A dozen NC counties contain portions of the forest.  Moreover the Cradle of Forestry - America's first forestry school - is located within the Pisgah National Forest.  George Washington Vanderbilt, of the famous Biltmore Estate, opened the school in the 1890s.

February 16, 2017 by Rick Morris

Pisgah National Forest is divided into four Ranger Districts - French Broad (Great Smoky Mountains to the town of Hot Springs), Appalachian and Grandfather (northern, Wilson Creek, Linville Gorge, Roan Mountain, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell), and Pisgah (along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Balsam Mountains, and Pisgah Ridge and includes Shining Rock wilderness, Mills River, Bent Creek, Davidson River).  Along with Croatan, Uwharrie, and Nantahala National Forests, Pisgah National Forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service (Asheville, NC). 

The forest was established in 1916 and entails mountains of the southern Appalachians, including the Great Balsam and Blue Ridge Mountains.  Approximately 46,000 acres are of old-growth trees, including 10,000 acres located in Linville Gorge.  Some of the peaks are higher than 6,000 feet, with Mount Mitchell (located at the edge of the Pisgah National Forest being the tallest in eastern America.  Also, a portion of the Appalachian Trail passes through the forest.

A photograph of the rugged terrain of the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, on a bright sunny day.

The land found within the Pisgah National Forest was bought courtesy the Weeks Act of 1911, by the U.S. Forest Service.  By the early 1920s, the addition of the Boone National Forest grew the park.  And, in 1936 the Unaka National Forest was secured.  By the 1950s, Pisgah, Croatan, and Nantahala National Forests were simply called the National Forests of North Carolina.

A photograph of a hidden waterfall surrounded by bright green plant growth in the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina.Plenty of outdoors activities are available in the Pisgah National Forest, including hiking (several hundred miles of trails), hunting, and camping.  You'll find high mountains filled with plenty of trees, speedy rivers, and waterfalls.  Bring your mountain bike and have some fun along Big Ivy, Hot Springs, Boone Fork, and dozens of other biking trails in the Pisgah National Forest.  If you are a climber, enjoy rock climbing in the Grandfather Ranger District along the Linville Gorge Wilderness area, Table Rock, and Wilson Creek Wild and Scenic River Area's Little Lost Cove Cliffs.  There is plenty of river, stream, lake and pond fishing permitted.  Try your luck in the lakes and ponds of the Appalachian Ranger District's Max Patch, and the Lake Powhatan area of the Pisgah Ranger District.  You can also feed the fish in the South Toe River/Black Mountain area, Harmon Den Horsecamp, Hot Springs Area, Curtis Creek Area, Harper Creek, Wilson Creek, Davidson River, North Mills River, Sunburst, etc.  Take your horse and camp along the Harmon Den Area, Wash Creek, and Wolf Ford.  Or go on a day-long horseback ride inn various places in the Appalachian Ranger District, Grandfather Ranger District, and Pisgah Ranger District.  There are several areas for viewing wildlife within the Appalachian Ranger District, including Black Mountain's Briar Bottom Group Campground, Harmon Den, Hot Springs, and Max Patch.  Check out the floral in Briar Bottom Group Campground, Harmon Den, Rocky Bluff Campground, Silvermine Group Campground, and Roan Mountain.  If picnics are in your agenda, there are several dozen picnic areas within the Pisgah National Forest.  Or, take a scenic drive along Bent Creek, Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, and Looking Glass Falls.  Finally, there are a number of areas where you can enjoy the water, including boating, swimming, and tubing.

Pisgah National Forest Camping/Campgrounds

There are several maintained camping sites in the Pisgah National Forest.  They include:

Dispersed camping is permitted only at designated sites in the Pisgah National Forest:

Pisgah Ranger District along Cathy's Creek, Courthouse Creek, Wash Creek, Headwaters, Yellow Gap, and Avery Creek.

Appalachian District along Big Ivy Road, Cold Springs Creek and River Road/French Broad River.

A photograph of a campsite in the Pisgah National Forest, showing vehicles and tents.

Areas closed to dispersed camping include Bent Creek Experimental Forest, Cradle of Forestry in America, Wilson Creek corridor, Silvermine Creek, developed day-use site and campgrounds, many wildlife openings. 

Day-Use Camping/Campgrounds in the Pisgah National Forest

Boone Fork Pond, Carolina Hemlocks, Cold Spring, Coon Tree, Cradle of Forestry, Lake Powhatan, Linville Cabin, Lost Cove Picnic Area, Max Patch Trailhead, Murray Branch, North Mills River, Old Fort, Pink Beds, Roan Mountain, Rocky Bluff, Sliding Rock, Sunburst, Sycamore Flats, Table Rock, Wisemans View.

Sliding Rock Pisgah National Forest

Sliding Rock is located just off Highway 276 near Brevard, NC within the Pisgah National Forest.  This is one fun place to visit.  It basically entails a well-maintained area (by U.S. Forest Service) where you can take a slippery slide down a 50 or 60-foot waterfall, landing into a 7-foot deep pool.  The cost to enter is just $1 per person, or $5 for the car load.  There is a nice viewing deck at the bottom where people can take snapshots or videos of those doing the sliding.  It is really a great way to cool off after a hot day on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  While you're at it, you should head up to Looking Glass Falls, 7 miles up-river.  No trip to Waynesville NC should be without a visit to Sliding Rock!  For more information, visit the Sliding Rock NC webpage.

Pisgah National Forest Map

Here is a map to Pisgah National Forest.  It's in pdf format and is fairly large.

For more information about camping in the Pisgah National Forest, please see this printable camping guide.

Waynesville NC Weather
The weather in Waynesville is mild, with warm summers, cool autumns, cold winters, and warming springs.

Restaurants in Waynesville NC
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Waynesville NC Hotels
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Bogarts Restaurant
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Wells Funeral Home
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The Lodge
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Pisgah Inn
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Garrett Funeral Home
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A listing of churches in Waynesville, NC.

Waynesville Inn
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Waynesville NC Newspaper
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The Swag
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Oak Park Inn
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Parkway Inn
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Waynesville NC Map
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Producer of medical products and employer of local people with disabilities and disadvantages.

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