The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

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Pisgah National Forest

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    The  Pisgah National Forest is a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls and heavily forested slopes. It is an ideal place, as are all of the national forests, for outdoor recreation. The forest gets its name from Mount Pisgah, a prominent peak in the area. In the 1700s a Scotch-Irish minister saw the peak and named it for the Biblical mountain from which Moses saw the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Located on two sides of Asheville, the forest is more than 490,000 acres and spreads over 12 western North Carolina counties. The forest is more or less divided in half by the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Appalachian Trail runs along its border with Tennessee. The Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail crosses through the forest. Pisgah National Forest contains three wilderness areas, Middle Prong, Linville Gorge and the Shining Rock section, and is divided into four districts: Pisgah District, French Broad District, Grandfather District and Tocane District.
    A short drive from downtown Asheville, the Pisgah District of the National Forest has a number of outstanding features and points of interest. This district is the most popular of all four, and receives over five million visitors a year. Over 156,000 acres i
n size, it encompasses parts of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and Transylvania counties. There are over 275 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Two of the three wilderness areas, Shining Rock and Middle Prong, are in this district. There is a Ranger Station and Visitor Center located on US 276 a few miles into the forest from Hwy. 280 in Brevard. I recommend you visit the center before continuing on into the forest. 

Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests Map
Map of Pisgah National Forest

Location: The Pisgah District of the Pisgah National Forest is located to the west of Asheville
Distance: 45 minutes-1 hour from Asheville to the Brevard area entrance to the park.
Address: Pisgah District Office, 1001 Pisgah Hwy., Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
Telephone: Pisgah District Office: 828-877-3350, 828-257-4203
                   Appalachian Ranger District, French Broad Station: 828-622-3202
                   Appalachian Ranger District, Toecane Ranger Station: 828-682-6146
                   Grandfather Ranger District: 828-652‑2144
Hours: Pisgah District Ranger Station Visitor Center: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; holidays and Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays noon-5 p.m.
Fees: None to enter park
Camping: Davidson River, Lake Powhatan, North Mills River Recreation Area, Sunburst.
Tips: Obtain maps and information at Visitor Center. You may order maps through the mail by calling 828-884-4734. The forest also has excellent mountain biking trails.
Of Note: The Cradle of Forestry located in the forest was the birthplace of modern forestry in America. It is a National Historic Site.
Nearby: Cradle of Forestry Historic Site, Waterfalls in Western North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Mills River Recreation Area
Resources: Forest Supervisor/National Forests in NC, 106 A Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801; 828-257-4200
Directions: From Asheville: Take Airport Rd. (Hwy. 280) off of Hendersonville Hwy. in Arden. Continue on 280 past Asheville airport to Wal-Mart Shopping Plaza just before Brevard. Turn right onto US 276 into Pisgah Forest. The R anger Visitor Center will be located on the right a few miles in.
From Hendersonville: Take US 64 West from downtown to the intersection of Hwy. 280 and Hwy. 276 at the Wal-Mart Shopping Plaza. Continue straight through light to US 276 and into the Forest. Look for the Ranger Visitor Center on your right.

Wild & Furry Animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, by Lee James Pantas

Some major points of interest within the Pisgah District:
Andy Cove Nature Trail: A self-guided trail located behind Pisgah Ranger Station (0.7 miles), that g
oes through several forest habitats. The trail takes about 30 minutes to walk.
Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway: A 79-mile highway loop (US 276, US 64 NC 215 & FS 475) provides numerous opportunities to view the outstanding scenery of the forest, in an area rich in forest history.

Forest Discovery Center This National Historic Site commemorates the birthplace of American forestry and forest education. The Forest Discovery Center features two interpretive exhibits and a gift shop, guided tours on two trails featuring eight historic buildings, restored stationary logging locomotive and living history interpretation by local crafters.  Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April-October 877-3130.
Lake Powhatan: A family recreation area in Asheville's backyard, Lake Powhatan is located off NC 191 at the end of Bent Creek Rd. The park provides picnic tables with grills and water sources, fishing, swimming beach and hiking trails.
Looking Glass Falls: A beautiful 30-foot wide waterfall that drops more than 60 feet down to a rock cliff. A trail with steps leads to an overlook and to the bottom of the falls. Located along Hwy. 276. Parking is provided
North Mills River Recreation Area:T his popular area offers picnic tables with grills along the beautiful North Mills River. A popular activity here is tubing on the river. 13 miles north of Hendersonville.
Pisgah Forest State Fish Hatchery and Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education: Different species and size of trout can be observed in the raceways and fish food is available to feed the fish. For group programs and information call 877-4423.  Located off Hwy. 276 on Davidson River Rd. (FS Rd. 475).
Sliding Rock Recreation Area: This very popular observation and water play area is a natural waterslide located on Hwy. 276. Visitors can slide down a 60-foot rock into a 7-foot deep pool; restrooms, changing areas, large parking lot, observation deck, site attendant on duty Memorial Day through mid-August. Small fee.







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