The Transylvania Times -

Headwaters State Forest Now Open To The Public - Brevard NC


September 10, 2018

It's official. Headwaters State Forest is now open to the public.

The N.C. Forest Service, state legislators, former Congressman Charles Taylor and his family, community members and local media gathered at the Carolina Point summer camp on Thursday for the ribbon cutting, making the 6,730-acre forest open for access.

The new forest will be managed as a "working forest" and open to foot traffic only, with a few parking areas built to access waterfalls and entry to the forest's interior.

On the forest's southern end is the Foothills Trail, a 70-mile through-hike trail that runs from Oconee State Park in Mountain Rest, S.C., to Table Rock State Park in Pickens County, S.C.

Throughout the forest, a network of unmarked trails and old logging and 4 by 4 roads crisscross the property. The N.C. Forest Service intends to leave it that way.

Headwaters State Forest Ranger Michael Cheek, along with one other forestry position that has not yet been filled, will manage the forest on the ground and from the regional N.C. Forest Service office in Asheville. There are no plans for any facilities, including bathrooms, in the forest.

Visitors will be expected to practice Leave No Trace ethics, plan ahead and prepare, travel on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what they find, respect wildlife and be considerate of other visitors. There will be no camping or fires allowed in Headwaters State Forest.

Visitors can expect informational kiosks at future parking areas off Glady Fork Road, Sassafrass Mountain and Gum Gap that will lead them to worthy destinations.

Public Information Officer Brian Haines said that each of these parking areas would accommodate five to 10 cars.

Locals can expect habitat improvements throughout the property, such as the harvesting of mature white pine stands that do little for wildlife, prescribed burns, trout stocking and other forms of wildlife rehabilitation in the future.

Efforts to protect this area began in 2009, when The Conservation Fund worked with the N.C. Forest Service and Conserving Carolina to negotiate a contract to purchase the land for the state in a bargain sale from Taylor and his family.

The Forest Service funds came through the Forest Legacy program, a federal program that allows for states to protect forests, which are environmentally sensitive.

Among the sensitive species that can be found in this forest include migratory birds like the Golden Winged Warbler, the eastern bog turtle and the Oconee Bell.

In total, $9.3 million came in federal funding from the Forest Legacy Program; $14.7 million through grants from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund, and donations from North Carolina residents Fred and Alice Stanback. The Stanback family, creators of the BC headache powder, are well known as philanthropists and environmentalists.

Local hunting groups kept a watchful eye over the forest in exchange for hunting access. The fact that this forest is to be managed for a "backcountry experience" should appeal to sportsmen. Mountain bikes and equestrians will not be allowed in the forest, even on the roads that run through it, and all dogs must be on a leash. For more information about Headwaters State Forest, go to



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