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Burnsville, NC 28714

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The Pisgah National Forest Reserve

Pisgah national forest reserve is a prominent and one of the oldest national forest reserves in the United States of America. This national forest is home to the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911 which led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. It offers huge recreational opportunities including hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and backpacking, abound within its boundaries.

The Pisgah National Forest covers over 500,000 acres of forest land across the central mountains of Western North Carolina. This large forest Has lands which include lands surrounding the town of Asheville and the French Broad River Valley and extending into the higher mountains all around. It is administered by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Due to its large size, the park is divided into three separate districts: the Grandfather District, the Appalachian District, and the Pisgah District.

The Pisgah national forest reserve is primarily a hardwood forest with Whitewater Rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails. The Pisgah Ranger District lies on either side of the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, along with the Pisgah Ridge and Balsam Mountains. The Trailheads Bent Creek, Mills River, Davidson River, Middle Prong Wilderness, and Shining Rock Wilderness are located in this district.

History of the Pisgah National Forest Reserve

Pisgah National Forest Reserve was established in 1915 which makes it the oldest forest reserve in the United States of America situated in North Carolina. In 1914, 86,000 acres of the land was sold to the federal government by the Vanderbilts in a bid to develop a major portion of the land (approximately 500,000 acres of land).

In 1916 Pisgah National Forest is formally established – the first eastern National Forest created from acquired lands – it is also designated as a National Game Preserve. The name of the region was attributed to the Reverend James Hall as he was said to be the first person to call the region Pisgah.

In 1898, Gifford Pinchot and George Vanderbilt established the Biltmore Forest School on Biltmore Estate land in Transylvania County; it becomes the nation’s first school of forestry. This forest reserve was established after George Vanderbilt built his iconic home in the 1890s, he sought to create a forest reserve as part of the estate.  Carl A. Schenck and Gifford Pinchot got enlisted by Vanderbilt as they shared the same kindred spirit in the actualization of this goal. Vanderbilt and concrete decided to put up the reserve at Baltimore. Efforts made to establish a forestry school Schenck’s Biltmore Forest School, which was found in 1898 proved futile until the late 1910s.

On March 1, 1911, President Wilson signed an authorization for the purchase of the Eastern Lands for restoration protection by the federal government. This land purchase act paved way for the National Park Service to buy up land on the eastern seaboard for conservation and public use.

After the demise of George Vanderbilt in the mid-1910s, the management of the Biltmore estate started becoming inefficient. This was as there were fewer funds to achieve this by his wife. In a move to offload some liability, Mrs. Vanderbilt sold about 86,700 acres of the land housing the estate to the federal government. Part of the reason for this move was that Mrs. Vanderbilt discovered that the forest reserve could only be preserved by the federal government.

The forest lies between parts of 12 different countries in western North Carolina. In no particular order, they include Caldwell, Burke, Mitchell, Watauga, Henderson, Transylvania, McDowell, Madison, Haywood, Yancey, Avery and Buncombe.