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 in on the conversation that started the trail, it's dear to me. And even if none of that happened, it's such a beautiful place that you naturally open your heart to that mountain once you hike to the top.

The mountain has so much history to it and so 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 the Blue Ridge mountains like Mt. Mitchell, Mt. Pisgah, and Black Balsam. There is also a historic fire tower at the summit, which was retired of its duty 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, 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 in 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 conserve over 470 acres eventually.

 
 

Through the trees you can see Lake Lure, which is about 12 miles from Bearwallow Mountain.

 
 

Gnarly windswept trees at the summit.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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

A sheet of ice covering a section of the trail.

 
 

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

At Florence Nature Preserve, 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.

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