Bearwallow Mountain: Conserved Forever

Bearwallow Mountain has a special place in my heart, even though I don't hike there very often. But because I helped build part of the trail (there were so many other volunteers who gave so much more time) and I was part of the conversation that started the trail, it's dear to me. Even if none of that was the case, it's such a beautiful place.

The mountain has so much history to it and many stories about it. Bearwallow Mountain sits at 4,232 ft. straddling the Eastern Continental Divide in a tiny town/community called Gerton. At the summit is a grassy meadow with a 360° degree view overlooking towns like Asheville, Hendersonville, Lake Lure, and Blue Ridge mountains like Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Pisgah, and Black Balsam. There's also a historic fire tower at the summit, which was retired as an active fire tower in the mid-90s. 

Clyde Curtis who staffed the fire tower and lived at the top of Bearwallow Mountain for 35 years has some great stories. Peter Barr of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (now known as Conserving Carolina), a local land conservationist nonprofit, interviewed Clyde about his life on Bearwallow Mountain:

At the high elevation and without the protection of trees atop the bald summit, Curtis caught the full brunt of passing storms, including blizzards and hurricanes. ‘One winter, I had 57 inches of snow accumulation,’ he recalls. In the summer, Bearwallow’s lofty summit was especially vulnerable to thunderstorms; lightning frequently struck the fire tower. Once, while standing near the tower, he was knocked off his feet by a lightning strike.
— Peter Barr, http://www.carolinamountain.org/stories/bearwallow_mountain_living_top

We brought a friend from out of town up Bearwallow Mountain recently...

Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy placed an 81 acre conservation easement at the top of Bearwallow Mountain. The goal is to eventually conserve over 470 acres.

 
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Through the trees you can see Lake Lure, which is about 12 miles away.

 
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Gnarly windswept trees at the summit.

 
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View from Grassy Bald at the summit of Bearwallow Mountain overlook Hendersonville and the Blue Ridge mountains, more specifically the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

A sheet of ice covered a section of the trail.

 
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Waterfall turned into ice right behind this house on the way from Bearwallow Mountain to Florence Nature Preserve.

Florence Nature Preserve is a 600-acre property that was donated to Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

If you get a moment, read more stories about Bearwallow Mountain and here are two sites with hiking information. And here's a bit about Florence Nature Preserve.

I'd recommend making a trip out to Bearwallow Mountain and Florence Nature Preserve if you're in the Asheville area! It's not a hard (or long) hike but the view is stellar.