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Pisgah National Forest is a National Forest in the Appalachian Mountainsmarker of western North Carolinamarker. It is administered by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculturemarker. The Pisgah National Forest is completely contained within the state of North Carolina. The forest is managed together with the other three North Carolina National Forests (Croatanmarker, Nantahalamarker, and Uwharrie) from common headquarters in Asheville, North Carolinamarker. There are local ranger district offices located in Pisgah Forestmarker, Burnsvillemarker, and Nebo.


Waterfall on West Prong Hickey Fork Creek
The Pisgah National Forest covers of mountainous terrain in the southern Appalachian Mountainsmarker, including parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Balsam Mountains. Elevations reach over and include some of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. Mount Mitchellmarker, in Mount Mitchell State Parkmarker, is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River and lies just outside the boundary of Pisgah National Forest. The forest also includes tracts surrounding the city of Ashevillemarker, the town of Brevardmarker and land in the French Broad River Valley. Recreational opportunities include hiking and backpacking, among others. The land and its resources are also used for hunting, wildlife management, and timber harvesting, as well as the North Carolina Arboretum. The forest lies in parts of 12 counties in western North Carolina. In descending order they are Transylvaniamarker, McDowellmarker, Haywoodmarker, Madisonmarker, Caldwellmarker, Burkemarker, Yanceymarker, Buncombemarker, Averymarker, Mitchellmarker, Hendersonmarker, and Wataugamarker counties.

Forests and old growth

Some of old-growth forests have been identified in the Pisgah National Forest, with in Linville Gorgemarker.


The Pisgah National Forest is divided into 4 Ranger Districts: the Grandfather, Toecane, French Broad, and Pisgah districts. The Grandfather and Toecane Ranger Districts lie in the northern mountains of North Carolina and include areas such as the Linville Gorge Wildernessmarker, Wilson Creek, the watersheds of the Toe and Cane rivers, Roan Mountainmarker, Mount Mitchellmarker, Craggy Gardensmarker, and the Big Ivy/Coleman Boundary area. The French Broad Ranger District stretches along the Tennesseemarker border from the Great Smoky Mountains National Parkmarker north to Hot Springsmarker. The Appalachian Trail passes through this section of this National Forest.

Rivers and trails

Bent Creek, Mills River, and Davidson River - three major streams and tributaries of the French Broad River - are located in the Pisgah Ranger District, which lies on either side of the Blue Ridge Parkwaymarker south of Asheville, along the Pisgah Ridge and Balsam Mountains. Three long-distance recreational trails - the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Shut-In Trail, and the Art Loeb Trail travel through this district. Also included in the Pisgah Ranger District are the Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses. The Blue Ridge Parkwaymarker transects this National Forest, and many National Forest and Parkway trails intersect.


The Pisgah National Forest was established in 1916, one of the first national forests in the eastern United States. Some of the forest tracts were among the first purchases by the Forest Service under the Weeks Act of 1911. While national forests had already been created in the western United States, the Weeks Act provided the authority required to create national forests in the east as well. Although tracts in the future Pisgah National Forest were among the first purchased under the Weeks Act, the very first to receive formal approval was the Gennett Purchase in northern Georgia. On March 25, 1921 Boone National Forest was added to Pisgah, and on July 10, 1936, most of Unaka National Forest was added. In 1954 the Pisgah National Forest was administratively combined with the Croatanmarker and Nantahalamarker national forests, collectively known as the National Forests of North Carolina.

American forestry has roots in what is now the Pisgah National Forest. The Cradle of Forestry, (Biltmore Forest Schoolmarker), located in the southern part of the forest, was the site of the first school of forestry in the United States. It operated during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The school was opened and operated at the direction of George Washington Vanderbilt II, builder of the Biltmore Estatemarker in Asheville. The Cradle of Forestry and the Biltmore Estate played a major role in the birth of the U.S. Forest Service. Today these lands are part of the Pisgah National Forest.


  1. Forest facts 2007, National Forest Service.
  2. The National Forests of the United States, The Forest History Society.

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