Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
Protecting the World's Oldest Mountains

Stanback Trails Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

For many years Fred and Alice Stanback have supported efforts to protect land and water resources across North Carolina, and have particularly emphasized protecting the beautiful mountains and special places along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In their honor, a series of Stanback Trails have been established on lands protected along the Parkway by the State of North Carolina , opening a portion of a National Historic Trail to the public and for the first time making it possible for North Carolina citizens and others to follow marked and well built trails to two major mountain peaks along the crest of the Blue Ridge.


View Stanback Trails along Blue Ridge Parkway in a larger map

Saddle Mountain Trail

2.0 miles • Difficulty rating: Moderate

The 502 acres in the Saddle Mountain portion of the Mitchell River Game Lands of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission are next to the Blue Ridge Parkway between US Highway 21 and the Virginia state line.

This area was protected with funds from Fred and Alice Stanback , the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund. The Piedmont Land Conservancy assisted the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in the protection effort.

The trail forms a loop on Saddle Mountain and also leads to the Horn of Saddle Mountain, thereby providing the first marked hiking trail to this dramatic point on the crest of the Blue Ridge rising 2,000 feet above the Piedmont below.

Funds from Fred and Alice Stanback, The Conservation Fund, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, the Land Trust for Central NC and several individuals paid for trail construction, trail signs and a commemorative granite marker. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission provided valuable assistance in locating the trail and in placing the signs and granite marker.

What you can expect to see on the trail: The trail travels mainly through oak and mixed oak-pine forests.  A dense understory of mountain laurel is present along much of the route.  Hikers will notice where prescribed burning has been conducted along the trail to suppress the mountain laurel understory and create browse for wildlife.  At the summit of Saddle Mountain hikers can view the Mitchell and Fisher River valleys to the south and east.  The Sauratown Mountains including Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain may also be seen in the distance.

Directions to the trail head: From the intersection of US Hwy 21 and the Blue Ridge Parkway travel the Blue Ridge Parkway 7.75 mi. north and turn right onto Saddle Mountain Church Road (SR 1461) (Parkway milepost 221.8).  Travel approximately 200 ft. and turn right onto Mountain Lake Road (SR 1481).  Travel approximately 300 ft. and turn left onto game land access road.  Travel game land access road 0.5 mi. to parking area.

Little Tablerock Mountain Trail

2.1 miles (4.2 miles round-trip) • Difficulty rating: Moderate

The 544 acres in this portion of the Pisgah Game Lands of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission adjoin the Blue Ridge Parkway between  Altapass and the village of Linville Falls.

This area was protected with funds from Fred and Alice Stanback and the North Carolina Environmental Enhancement program in 2004. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina played a lead role with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission in the protection effort.

The trail leads to Little Table Rock Mountain which stands on the Eastern Continental Divide and provides the first marked hiking trail to this outstanding point along the Blue Ridge.

Funds from Fred and Alice Stanback , The Conservation Fund, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Blue Ridge Conservancy, and several individuals paid for trail construction, trail signs and commemorative granite marker. The NC wildlife Resources Commission provided valuable assistance in locating the trail and in placing the signs and granite marker.

What you can expect to see on the trail: The trail travels mainly through oak and cove forests.  At the summit of Little Tablerock Mountain, hikers can view the North Toe River Valley to the north.  Roan Mountain is visible at the skyline to the north on clear days. During months when the trees are bare, hikers can see Linville Mountain in the view to the east.

Directions to the trail head: From the Heffner Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway milepost 325.9) travel north 1.25 mi. and turn left onto Bear Den Mountain Road (SR 1126) immediately before passing through Blue Ridge Parkway seasonal gate.  Travel Bear Den Mountain road for 0.1 mi. to stop sign.  Continue straight onto Humpback Mountain road (SR 1128).  Continue for 0.5 mi. and turn right onto Whiterock Road.  Follow signs to the parking area.

Rose Creek Trail

1.3 miles • Difficulty rating: Easy

The 534 acres in this Rose Creek portion of the Pisgah Game Lands of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission adjoin the Blue Ridge Parkway near Heffner Gap just north of Altapass.

This area was protected with funds from Fred and Alice Stanback, the North Carolina Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund in 2008. The Conservation Trust for North Carolina played a lead role with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC Department of Cultural Resources in the protection effort.

The trail is part of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail because it is part of the route walked by Patriot Militia from east Tennessee and south west Virginia on September 29, 1780 as they crossed the Blue Ridge to pursue a British led Loyalist force that had threatened to attack and destroy their homes. That pursuit ended with the Patriot victory and the death of the British leader,
Major Patrick Ferguson, at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780.
See http://www.nps.gov/ovvi/index.htm  for more details about this national historic trail. 

Funds from Fred and Alice Stanback, The Conservation Fund, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Blue Ridge Conservancy and several individuals paid for  trail and  footbridge construction, trail signs and a granite marker. The NC  Wildlife Resources Commission provided valuable assistance in locating the trail and in placing the signs and granite marker.

What you can expect to see on the trail: The trail generally follows Little Rose Creek for much of its length through oak and cove forests.  

Directions to the trail head: Park at the Heffner Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway milepost 325.9).  Walk across the Parkway to old woods road.  The trail follows the old woods road to Altapass Road (SR 1121).  Alternately, from the Heffner Gap overlook, travel south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to McKinney Gap.  At McKinney Gap turn right onto Parkway exit.  At the stop sign turn left onto Altapass Road.  Continue for 0.25 mi. to parking area on the right.

 

For all trails: It is recommended that hikers wear a blaze orange garment during hunting seasons (September - February and April - mid May).

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