craggy national scenic area
what's happening now?
The U.S. Forest Service has recommended in its draft forest plan to expand the Craggy Wilderness Study Area and to protect most of the Craggy-Big Ivy area as a Special Ecological Interest Area. We applaud the Forest Service for recognizing the rare and special natural heritage of the Craggies and for recommending stronger protections for this area.
We hope to create the Craggy Wilderness and National Scenic Area to permanently protect the entire 16,000 acres of Craggy and Big Ivy. We need a flood of public comments to the Forest Service to ensure that all of Craggy is permanently protected.
what is the craggy wilderness and national scenic area?
The Craggy Wilderness and National Scenic Area will permanently protect 16,000 acres of ancient forests, waterfalls, trout streams, world-class trails, and panoramic vistas less than 15 miles from downtown Asheville.
The United States only has ten national scenic areas. Craggy could be our eleventh. The Craggy Mountain Wilderness would be the first and only wilderness in Buncombe County, and the National Scenic Area will be the first-ever in North Carolina.
The Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area will permanently protect the panoramic viewsheds from Craggy Gardens, the most popular and most photographed spot along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. Over half of Craggy will be designated as wilderness, the highest protection possible.
How Will This Help Our region?
The Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area will double the size of the core Wilderness Study Area and protect the entire 16,000-acre Craggy-Big Ivy section as a National Scenic Area. It also will protect one of the largest old-growth forests in the East, home to over 44 rare and endangered species. Its pristine headwaters are home to native trout and part of a protected watershed and drinking water source for the region. Craggy National Scenic Area will be a cornerstone of recreation and tourism less than 15 miles from downtown Asheville.
What Forest Users Will This Affect?
None! The designations ensure that everything in Craggy stays the same. All existing roads and trails will remain open to all current uses, including horseback riding, hunting, fishing, biking, paddling, rock climbing, trail running, hiking, and camping. Craggy has become a world-class mountain biking destination, and all mountain bike trails—including the 20-mile trail network from Laurel Gap to Corner Rock—will remain open to mountain bikes.
The Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area is endorsed by a broad and diverse coalition of over 100 organizations, dozens of Buncombe County businesses, and thousands of local supporters. The Forest Service received over 6,000 comments supporting permanent protections for Craggy-Big Ivy—more than any other area in the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. The Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville City Council passed unanimous bipartisan resolutions supporting the complete Craggy Mountain Wilderness and stronger protections for all of Craggy.