In Transylvania County, more than 111,000 acres, or 46 percent of the county’s land area, is in public ownership. Those public lands include five spectacular outdoor attractions: Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Recreational Forest, Gorges State Park, Headwaters State Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Of the amount of public land in the county, roughly 88,000 acres is in Pisgah National Forest, which is comprised of more than 500,000 acres in total. Today, Pisgah National Forest is a destination for people across the country and beyond for its natural beauty. The forest includes numerous waterfalls; miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; and the highest mountain peaks east of the Mississippi.
Another of the county’s jewels is DuPont State Recreational Forest and its roughly 11,000 acres. DuPont Forest has slowly grown in size since the state began buying up property in 1995, and now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to see its spectacular waterfalls and enjoy its many trails. Hollywood has also come calling, with movies such as “The Hunger Games” and “The Last of the Mohicans” being filmed in the forest.
Gorges State Park was established in 1999. It is roughly 8,000 acres in size and, like the other two, features miles of trails and wonderful waterfalls.
Headwaters State Forest opened to the public in September of last year. This new forest encompasses 6,730 acres and will be managed as a “working forest” and open to foot traffic only. Visitors to the forest can expect informational kiosks at future parking areas off Glady Fork Road, Sassafras Mountain and Gum Gap that will lead them to worthy destinations.
Lastly is the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which is also called “America’s Favorite Drive.” Of its 469 miles, 16 go through Transylvania County, parts of which sit at 5,000 feet above sea level.