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Sunset at Bearwallow Mountain (Henderson County)
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Bearwallow Mountain, which is privately owned, is located in northeastern Henderson County, towering above the Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure areas. Straddling the Eastern Continental Divide, the mountain has been a popular destination for local hikers who knew about it for years. Now, thanks to a conservation easement on the land and a beautiful new trail leading to the top, it’s been officially opened to the public for hiking. The Bearwallow Mountain trail traverses this ledge,which is covered in ferns in the growing season. The mountain rises to 4,232ft above sea level with a signature open pasture on its northwest slope, visible from miles away in Fairview and Buncombe County. The rocky, grassy summit, which you share with friendly grazing cattle during the summer, provides expansive views from the south to west to north. Mountains visible include Mount Mitchell, Mount Pisgah, and the Balsams. You can see much of rural Buncombe and Henderson Counties and the Asheville area as well. At the summit, dozens of communications towers have been constructed around the historic yellow NC Forest Service fire tower and house which was used to keep an eye out for forest blazes in years past (see the link above for a great story about the tower and its history). You can’t climb the tower now, but as a child, I remember visiting the mountain and spending time at the top speaking with Mr. Curtis who staffed the tower and was eager to share his knowledge about his job with visitors. Public access to the mountain was secured with the help of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (which is primarily responsible for the conservation easement on the land), the Carolina Mountain Club, REI, and volunteers from the community. According to CLMC, 81 acres of land were protected in 2009, almost 500 acres of land are hoped to be protected in the future, and the trail will eventually become part of a much longer one connecting to the Florence Preserve and trails in the Hickory Nut Gorge and Chimney Rock State Park. (source: www.hikewnc.info/trailheads/bearwallow-mountain/)

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