There's 1,973 acres near Warrensville, NC that has some of the most beautiful and ecologically significant natural heritage sites in the southeast, Bluff Mountain Nature Preserve. It offers visitors scenic beauty, unusual landforms, and an amazing botanical variety.
A mineral-rich rock type called amphibolites gneiss underpins the peaks in the Amphibolites Mountains, yielding a more neutral soil than typically found in the mountains and feeding a rich diversity of plant life. The Amphibolites, which include Three Top Mountain, Elk Knob, Mount Jefferson, and Bluff Mountain, average about 5,000 feet, with 5,566-foot Snake Mountain reaching the highest elevation. The mountain range is oriented in a generally northeast to southwest direction and separates the north and south forks of the New River This 90,557-acre IBA is located in Ashe and Watauga Counties.
Just driving in the area is a treat, as windy two-lane roads wander through scenic valleys with Christmas tree farms and rounded forested peaks. Over 90 percent of this IBA is privately owned. The site includes Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, Elk Knob State Park, and tracts on Paddy and Bluff Mountains protected by The Nature Conservancy. The North Carolina Plant Conservation Network also has significant holdings in the range. The landscape is a mosaic of farmland and hardwood forest interspersed with creeks, bogs, spruce forest, and grassy balds at higher elevations. These diverse habitats are home to mammals such as black bear and bobcat and rare creatures such as the bog turtle and northern flying squirrel. Land use in the area is devoted to conservation, recreation, hunting, fishing, residential development, grazing, and Christmas tree production.
The Bluff Mountain Nature Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
Hours of Operation
The preserve is accessible through a locally-based eco-tourist guide, Kim Hadley, who is the preserve’s volunteer steward and has an intimate knowledge of the mountain. The cost is $10 per person. To make reservations, or if you have questions, please contact Hadley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (336) 497-1972. The hike is approximately two miles over rocky terrain of medium difficulty and takes about four hours.
Cost is $10/person to reserve a spot on one of the hikes advertised on the Bluff Mountain Preserve website. Special group tours can be arranged by calling Kim Hadley, (see contact information above.)
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change. Contact directly for most current information.
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