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Cataloochee Gateway – Cove Creek Gap

cataloochee Divide Trail signYou know that feeling when you get ready to embark on an adventure? The building excitement… the thrill of the first moment you step foot on a trail… That setting is so important – it sets the tone and context for your experience. Unfortunately, many of the public lands and trails in the Southern Appalachians are bordered by forests and fields on private lands which, as an area increases in popularity, could be developed for residential or commercial uses – forever changing the experience for those seeking serenity in outdoor recreation.

Great Smoky Mtns National Park Cataloochee signThanks to generous conservation supporters, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently purchased 10 acres at Cove Creek Gap, the Cataloochee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The land borders the Cataloochee Divide Trail, rising from Cove Creek Road to the ridgeline and sharing a 0.3-mile boundary with the trail and national park. Although small in acreage, these 10 acres have the potential to make a big impact. In addition to sharing a boundary with the trail and national park, the tracts are located just across Cove Creek Road to the left of the park sign, highly visible to visitors entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Cataloochee entrance. Read more

Stevens Creek land protected near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We recently purchased 147 acres at Stevens Creek, a quiet cove on the eastern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The acquisition permanently protects important habitat and water resources near the remote Cataloochee Valley area of the park.

“Wrapped on three sides by publicly owned land, this pocket of prime forest and open pasture habitat will remain undeveloped for future generations,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “The acquisition presents a wonderful opportunity for SAHC to deepen our connection to America’s most visited national park.”

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Smoky Mountains Conservation Focus Area Hike

On Saturday, March 25th, an awesome group of hikers gathered to explore our Smoky Mountains Conservation Focus Area with a hike to scenic Hemphill Bald at the top of Cataloochee Ranch, where SAHC placed our first conservation easement in 1993.

The hike began at the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob, where we were joined by the ​Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s AmeriCorps Citizen Science Associate, who taught the group about the education and citizen science programs hosted ​by the Park at Purchase Knob. ​We learned about the many ways that they monitor acid deposition — one of which is by studying salamanders. Read more

“For Love of Beer & Mountains” Southern Sixer Challenge Kickoff!

Last Saturday, we led our first guided Southern Sixer hike to the summit of a peak above 6,000 feet. For this “For Love of Beer and Mountains” Southern Sixer Challenge Kickoff, we traveled to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to climb Mount Kephart, named after Horace Kephart, who played a major role during the early years of the park. We were fortunate to be greeted by a majestic herd of elk both on the way into the park and at the end of the day!

While the summit of Mount Kephart doesn’t afford spectacular views, you can continue just a quarter mile further to “The Jumpoff,” the top of a 1,000 foot sheer cliff on the side of the mountain that provides views for miles to the east. From this vantage point we could see back towards SAHC’s Smoky Mountains focus areas, where we work to conserve land adjoining the national park, creating a buffer for wildlife and helping preserve viewsheds in this unique landscape.

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