Hickory Nut Mountain

Hickory Nut Mountain is a unique opportunity to preserve an extension of the eastern Blue Ridge Mountains escarpment. About 8,400 acres of unfragmented forests and wildlife habitat provide a critical landscape “bridge” between protected conservation lands of the Catawba River Headwaters and Pisgah National Forest east to 45,000 acres of state lands in the South Mountains.

NC Blue Ridge’s Largest Protection Opportunity with Exceptional Natural Heritage

Purchased by investors in 2006, Hickory Nut Mountain is highly vulnerable to re-sale for development because of its close proximity to prime residential markets of Asheville and Lake Lure/Chimney Rock. Acquiring and protecting this tract would secure the largest unprotected state-significant natural heritage area in western North Carolina.

Biological Diversity

Hickory Nut Mountain’s natural communities and diverse, expansive habitats host five significantly rare plant and two rare animal species. The eastern woodrat (Appalachian population) and sweet pinesap are federal species of concern. Exemplary natural community types of the Blue Ridge and Southern Appalachians such as low elevation granitic domes, Carolina hemlock bluffs, and rich cove forests are found there. Numerous headwater streams appear where the Catawba and Broad river basins meet. Additionally, low elevation cliffs and outcrops are critical foraging and nesting habitat for the peregrine falcon.

Habitat & Scenic Significance

As a 7,830-acre unfragmented Natural Heritage site, Hickory Nut Mountain provides important “core” habitat for black bears between the Blue Ridge and South Mountains. Still, much remains undocumented about its habitat and significance as a vital wildlife corridor. Prominently seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mt Mitchell, and the Blue Ridge Escarpment along Interstate 40 in McDowell County, this mountain landscape provides unbroken forests and scenery.

Economic Significance

The tract is considered a high priority acquisition opportunity for North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for a major new public game land. As a new Blue Ridge Mountains destination, it will capitalize on natural assets and help tourism-based economic development efforts in McDowell County by attracting hunters and anglers from NC and nearby states. A traditional rural economy based upon forestry and agriculture is transitioning to an economy dependent upon quality of life aspects such as access to clean water, stunning views, open space and a rural lifestyle.
Foothills Conservancy, in partnership with The Conservation Fund and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), is actively pursuing acquisition of 8,400 acres that form Hickory Nut Mountain as public conservation land and new wildlife game lands. Located southeast of the Black Mountains and north from Chimney Rock, the acquisition of Hickory Nut Mountain is one of WRC’s highest priorities in Western North Carolina.
Preservation of the tract’s natural heritage and resource values is a keystone strategy for the long-term goal of securing lands through both private conservation easements and public acquisitions to connect Pisgah National Forest and the new Chimney Rock State Park to 45,000 acres of state park and game land in the South Mountains. Hickory Nut Mountain contains headwaters of both the Catawba and Broad rivers, supplying clean drinking water to millions in the Carolinas.

Acquiring large tracts for game lands is a key strategy of the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Cove forest and low elevation rock outcrop habitats are priorities in this comprehensive plan developed by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and partners to help conserve the state’s wildlife and their habitats.

Leave Your Legacy

There are few ways that you can leave a greater legacy than through land conservation. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to help protect and conserve the geographically unique and biologically rich Hickory Nut Mountains.


FCNC logo
Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina
PO Box 3023, Morganton, NC 28680
828-437-9930 www.foothillsconservancy.org