Enjoy your visit to the Pisgah National Forest. Learn what you can do and see here.
The Pisgah National Forest has many activities to enjoy. People sometimes come in and ask about what there is to do in the forest. The answer is that you can picnic, camp, hike, climb, fish, swim, slide, float, hunt, bike, mountain bike, ride your horse, rent a horse, learn about forestry, find waterfalls, see the sights, or just relax.
One thing we would strongly recommend is that people do some research ahead of visiting the area. We are always amazed at people that arrive on a Friday afternoon in July with no idea where they are going to camp or what they want to do. The Ranger Station and Visitor Information Center is a very busy place - we have had as many as 1,200 visitors per day on a holiday weekend. A crowd like that makes it hard to give each visitor personal attention, so we hope that the information on these pages will help you pre-plan your visit, or at least help you generate a list of questions to ask.
Where IS the Pisgah National Forest?
The first thing to understand is just where the "Pisgah Forest" actually is. It is important to realize it is not just one place. The Pisgah National Forest is made up of three separate Ranger Districts - the Pisgah District, the Appalachian District, and the Grandfather District. This is important when you are trying to locate individual features of the forest. The map below is a general guide to the district boundaries. With so many people using GPS mapping to find things, you must understand that placing "Pisgah National Forest" in your GPS will very likely guide you to a location near the geographical center of the forest which is somewhere near Burnsville, North Carolina. If you are looking for Sliding Rock, in the Pisgah District, you will end up 60 miles from your desired location! Below the map we have listed the major attractions or features of each district.
Major features of the Pisgah District include: Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Rock, the Cradle of Forestry in America, Mount Pisgah, Graveyard Fields, Cold Mountain, the Art Loeb Trail, the Pisgah Inn, the Davidson River and campgrond, Lake Powhatan, etc.
Major features of the Appalachian District include: a section of the Appalachian Trail, Harmon Den, and Roan Mountain.
Major features of the Grandfather District include: Linville Falls, the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, and the Brown Mountain OHV area.
The Pisgah Forest has some of the prettiest country and views in western North Carolina. The Pisgah District has an area of about 170,000 acres. The Appalachian and Grandfather Ranger Districts make up the remainder of the over 500,000 acres that make up the whole Pisgah National Forest. Within the Pisgah District there are roughly 400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. There are campgrounds for individuals as well as groups. There are two horse camps. The district also houses the Cradle of Forestry in America, a historic site which was home to the first forestry school in America. For waterfall enthusiasts there are numerous falls in the area. We are home to the famous "Sliding Rock" - a natural water slide visited by thousands of people every year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the district from near Asheville west to Balsam Knob. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a ribbon of land administered by the National Park Service. The Park boundaries vary some, but are generally about a few hundred feet on either side of the parkway. There are some great things to experiences on the Parkway. Stop by or stay at the Pisgah Inn near Mount Pisgah or camp at the Mount Pisgah Campground, climb to the summit of Mount Pisgah for great views, including the famous Cold Mountain. Stop by several of the Parkway overlooks to experience the views of the Smokey Mountains. We suggest you climb to the top of Devils Courthouse for beautiful views.
The National Park land has some different regulations than the forest land - check with the Park Service before hunting or camping on National Park Land.
Download great FREE publications about North Carolina National Forests.
For several years, the Forest Service in North Carolina has published a periodical newspaper / magazine entitled Carolina Connections. These are valuable resources; showing many ways to enjoy all of the National Forests in all of North Carolina - not just the Pisgah. In 2012, the format of the publication was changed drastically, and in our opinion, not for the better. Instead of an informative 16-page magazine format it was reduced to a much smaller publication. Luckily, the 2011 publication remains available online. Here is a listing of available Carolina Connections:2011 Annual Carolina Connection edition - This older edition is listed first because it is the most informative of all the available Carolina Connection issues.
2013-14 Fall/Winter Carolina Connection
2013 Summer Carolina Connection
2013 Spring Carolina Connection
2012-13 Fall/Winter Carolina Connection
2012 Summer Carolina Connection
2012 Spring Carolina Connection
2010 Spanish Language Carolina Connection