Bearden Mountain

Bearden Mountain

Approximate size: 6,952 acres
Old-growth known: 0 acres

The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs north from Springer Mountain and dives right through this Mountain Treasure. The trail emerges at Three Forks, where Chester, Long, and Stover Creeks combine to form Noontootla Creek. People go there to hike a loop through this Mountain Treasure on the AT and Benton MacKaye Trails, to head out of the area to Long Creek Falls, or to just stay and enjoy the picturesque spot. Word of the fabulous trout fishing in Noontootla Creek has spread far enough that on a summer weekend finding an unoccupied reach of stream may be more difficult than finding trout. The area also contains the southernmost brook trout streams. These exceptional recreational values led to much of the area being included in the Ed Jenkins National Recreation Area (NRA).

Around 1908, this area was part of the first tract of land in the east offered for sale to the Forest Service. The tract became the core of efforts to restore depleted game species, such as white-tailed deer, to the mountains. That history may explain why ancient trees still persist along many of the streams, especially Noontootla Creek. Pederson and others (2010) used those trees to help reconstruct the drought history of the Atlanta area over the last 400 years, which can help inform current water use policies. One rich cove forest, though not old-growth, has a mix of basswood, silverbell, and buckeye typical of old-growth forest. The towering white pine forests along Noontootla Creek stand out more for their density and exceptional height.

The NRA protects many of these special features, but important areas also lie outside of the protected zone. For instance, only half of the Lovinggood Creek watershed is within the NRA.

Help us protect this 16,000-acre oasis of waterfalls, old-growth, rare species, panoramic views, and world-class trails.


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