Elk Knob State Park is a 3,473 acre North Carolina State Park in Watauga County, North Carolina. It opened in 2003 and is one of North Carolina's newest state parks. Elk Knob State Park was established to preserve the natural state of Elk Knob, the second highest peak in Watauga County.
The park is open for year-round recreation and is currently undergoing an expansion of facilities to provide greater recreational opportunities to visitors. Elk Knob State Park is on Meat Camp Road, 5.5 miles from North Carolina Highway 194, 9.5 miles north of Boone, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Elk Knob State Park is named for Elk Knob, which was under threat of being developed for summer homes during the late 1990s and early 2000s. A group of concerned citizens, led by the Nature Conservancy and land owners, teamed together to purchase Elk Knob and deed it to the State of North Carolina as a nature preserve, and later a state park. Elk Knob is an amphibolites peak and is home to the headwaters of the North Fork New River, a tributary of the New River, one of the oldest rivers in the world.
Elk Knob State Park is surrounded by several historic mountain communities. Meat Camp, Pottertown and Sutherland were once, according to Dr. Patricia Beaver of Appalachian State University, "bustling, dynamic communities". Meat Camp was the location of Winebarger Grist Mill, which operated from the 1850s until 2005. Sutherland had a thriving cattle industry. Each community had at least one general store, post office, school and church.
Faculty and students from Appalachian State have begun a process of preserving the history of the communities by hosting periodic community days, at Elk Knob State Park, where residents of the shrinking communities gather to pass down their history and share photos of earlier days. These gatherings have also given the students and young people of the region a chance to learn about sustainable agriculture practices that were commonplace throughout the history of Elk Knob.
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