ASHEVILLE – The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area announced 19 grants totaling more than $250,000 in funding designed to preserve and promote Western North Carolina’s heritage.
Funded by the federal dollars the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area receives, the grant awards will help support diverse initiatives across the North Carolina mountains and foothills, focusing on craft, music, natural heritage, Cherokee traditions, and the region’s legacy in agriculture.
With a unique blend of talent and resources, the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation are focusing on a national epidemic – childhood obesity.
A grant of $200,000 over two years will pilot a multi-dimensional program expected to eventually span the entire length of the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway.
The objective is to engage children and their families in activities that increase physical activity, improve nutritional choices, and increase awareness of the Blue Ridge Parkway as a recreational resource. The program will pilot initially in the Asheville, spearheaded by Olson Huff, M.D., who has a distinguished career in children’s health. He also co-chairs the Task Force on Obesity and Nutrition of the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission. Huff, the NPS, and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation have convened a regional advisory board to maximize the program’s effectiveness with Dr. Huff serving as board chairman.
North Carolina’s federal court victory requiring the TVA to reduce emissions from its dirtiest coal plants is not only good for folks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s an important precedent that could force Congress and federal regulators to address the issue of pollution that crosses state lines.
“This certainly is a groundbreaking case and one that is important for the health and economy for our state,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “Many people will also view this as a positive step nationally because it holds a public utility accountable for its pollution.”
The case is a big victory for North Carolina, and nowhere bigger than here in the mountains. We have said many times in these columns that clean air is critical not only to our physical health; it’s crucial to our economic health.
The Conservation Trust for North Carolina purchased a 538-acre property on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Spruce Pine, which will keep a segment of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail open to the public.
The Rose Creek property in Mitchell County has more than a mile of frontage on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is visible from The Loops Overlook. It contains about 1.5 miles of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which traces the route taken by colonial militia to the pivotal battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolution, according to a news release from the Conservation Trust.
This segment of trail, which has not been accessible to the public, will now be open to hikers.
The Blue Ridge Parkway was tapped the North Carolina Visitor Attraction of the Year for exemplifying excellence, innovation and setting the standard for an exceptional visitor experience. Having just commenced its 75th Anniversary Celebration, the Parkway is considered one of the great public accomplishments of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The 469-mile parkway, which winds through the high mountains of the southern Appalachians and joins Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, has since after World War II been the most visited site in the National Park System. It was built over a 52-year period from the turning of the first shovelful of dirt in September of 1935 until its completion in 1987.
Grandfather Mountain moved one step closer to becoming a state park when the Council of State on Tuesday approved North Carolina’s purchase of a large chunk of the property. That’s a win for the state and the Morton family, which will continue to operate its popular tourist attraction on the mountain through a private, nonprofit organization.
In Surry County, the Piedmont Land Conservancy announced last week that it has bought a second tract on Fisher’s Peak. Stunning views have been preserved, as well as flora and fauna. The peak is home to bears, as well as mountain laurel, rare grasses and chestnut trees.
Greensboro, Ga.-based Reynolds Signature Communities, a subsidiary of Linger Longer Communities LLC, said in a news release late Tuesday it has acquired Laurelmor, a 6,200-acre master-planned golf and equestrian community west of Blowing Rock, N.C. A purchase price was not released.
According to published reports, Ginn Development Co., the former owners of Laurelmor, nearly lost the community to foreclosure earlier this year when it failed to make principal and interest payments on a $675 million credit facility on the development and other properties.
The sale is part of an agreement with Ginn Development’s lenders, including Credit Suisse, according to a report in the Winston Salem Journal.
Last month at an event commemorating the Blue Ridge Parkway a Depression-era federal project, Virginia’s Governor Tim Kaine said, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” It’s a message embraced by conservationists across the Southeast. This time of economic difficulty is also one of opportunity for land trusts.
Located near the North Carolina and Tennessee border in the Newfound Mountains northwest of Asheville, a short drive south of Hot Springs, Max Patch is the southern most bald on the Appalachian Trail. The summit tops out at 4,629 feet.
The trail from the parking lot to the summit of Max Patch is said to be a gentle climb, surrounded by wildflowers in season.
Max Patch was privately owned until 1982 when it was aquired by the Forest Service for the AT.
Hike a section of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail (or A.T.) on top of Max Patch Mountain near Hot Springs. This 4,600-foot mountain was cleared and used as pasture in the 1800s. Today, it’s a 350-acre tract of open land on a high knob with 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can see from Mt. Mitchell on the east to the Great Smoky Mountains on the south. What a picnic spot! And great for star gazing and enjoying wildflowers. The summit is a short walk from the parking lot. Max Patch is part of the Pisgah National Forest.
Two easy loop trails lead you to, and around, the summit. The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4 mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. From the parking lot, follow the marked trail to the left. You will ascend through a forest and then reach the top for amazing views. The rest of the hike is on the grassy bald. You can also hike north or south on the Appalachian Trail for as far as you want.
The Great Smoky Mountains, only 20 miles away, dominate the southwest horizon. To the west the terrain drops over 3600 feet into the flatlands of eastern Tennessee. To the west, 50 miles distant, rises the dark ridgeline of the Black Mountains. Endless ridges and peaks fill in the panorama everywhere else.
Max Patch Bald is the kind of place that becomes a part of you after just one trip. The route up to the summit passes through picturesque mountain communities that have largely escaped the mass tourism radar. Passing by old red tobacco barns, little white churches, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, and even the occasional country store, the route eventually starts a long gradual climb through the deep forest. Then out of nowhere it appears, an enormous grassy bald, and what may be the single most stunning view in the entire region.
Though many mountains are higher, none seem so when you are on the summit of Max Patch Bald. On a clear day you will see completely across most of eastern Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Black Mountains, Craggy Mountains, Pisgah Ledge, the Newfound Mountains of Haywood County, and Walnut Mountains of Madison County. Pictures cannot do justice to the summit, a la Sound of Music. This exceptionally beautiful grassy peak is often covered in wildflowers and affords a spectacular 360-degree view. At near the 5,000-foot level, this is one of the first places to see brilliant fall color and substantial snowfall. The one-mile loop trail to the summit is easy to moderate. Take the trail to the left. It is best done in the clockwise direction, saving the steepest sections for the downhill return. You don’t have to be a serious hiker to enjoy what has been called The Crown Jewel of the Appalachian Trail.
Max Patch Mountain is a mountain summit in Madison County in the state of North Carolina (NC). Max Patch Mountain climbs to 4,616 feet (1,406.96 meters) above sea level. Max Patch Mountain is located at latitude – longitude coordinates (also called lat – long coordinates or GPS coordinates) of N 35.797045 and W -82.956811.
Anyone attempting to climb Max Patch Mountain and reach the summit should look for detailed information on the Max Patch Mountain area in the topographic map (topo map) and the Lemon Gap USGS quad. To hike and explore the North Carolina outdoors near Max Patch Mountain, check the list of nearby trails.