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Rich Mountain Wilderness Extension

Rich Mountain Wilderness Extension

Approximate size: 4,987 acres
Old-growth known: 37 acres

The steep slopes of Cold Mountain rise up outside the little mountain town of Cherry Log and form a verdant backdrop to the pastoral scenes along Rock Creek Road. This Mountain Treasure connects the Rich Mountain Wilderness Area to the Rock Mountain Inventoried Roadless Area to form a large block of unfragmented habitat. The Rich Mountains as a whole are an island lying between Ellijay, Blue Ridge, and Suches, and separated from both the main Blue Ridge and the Cohutta Mountains.

Once experienced, the physical difficulty of hiking on Cold Mountain ensures one will never confuse it with any other mountain in Georgia. Freeze-thaw action in the last ice age covered the mountain in a vast jumble of boulders, the most extensive boulderfield in Georgia. Thanks to these boulders, loggers have not revisited the area since the first wave of industrial logging. The unique habitat also allows normally scarce species like zig-zag goldenrod and yellowwood trees to literally cover the mountainside. Even rarer species, such as the state endangered starflower, cling to smaller patches of less rocky forest.

Other slopes in the area contain more typical oak forests and an abundance of rich cove forests. Exceptional features occur in these areas too, like a nearly pure stand of black cherries that is home to the state champion. Hunting is very popular across much of the area. The area is temporarily protected as a natural area.

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

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