Formerly operated as a camp and retreat, the Big Rock Creek tract adjoining the Pisgah National Forest in Mitchell County, NC has been imbued with love and memories for decades. We purchased the high elevation 58-acre parcel in the Highlands of Roan to permanently preserve this cherished place west of Hughes Gap, just a half mile south of the Appalachian Trail (AT).
Once occupied by TrailRidge Mountain Camp and later Camp Pleiades, the tract can be viewed from the AT south of Hughes Gap and from Roan High Bluff. Landowners Jacque Allen and Barbara Benisch, who operated Camp Pleiades for eight years, reached out to SAHC to preserve the land’s natural, recreational, and cultural features.
“We loved the property for what it gave us — friends, fun, great memories, and summers in the mountains,” says Allen. “When we decided to sell the property we knew we wanted to protect it from development, and that is when we learned about SAHC. I am so glad to know that the place we so loved will always be taken care of and looked after by a great group of caring people.”
The tract rises to 3,940 ft. elevation on the north side, and four tributaries to Big Rock Creek flow through it. Big Rock Creek provides trout habitat and is part of the North Toe River watershed.
Fred and Alice Stanback made a generous contribution which enabled us to purchase the property. The owners generously agreed to sell the tract to SAHC below appraised market value.
“Preserving this remarkable property in the shadow of Roan High Knob will secure habitat and clean headwater sources as well as recreation opportunities for generations to come,” said Executive Director Carl Silverstein.
We plan to manage the undeveloped land for forest health, and maintain a hiking trail through the property to the adjoining Pisgah National Forest and the AT. The spirit of education and community that began with TrailRidge Mountain Camp and carried forward with Camp Pleiades will now be
honored by SAHC.
TrailRidge Mountain Camp
“For two months I slept in a hammock under a plastic tarp and showered from a solar-heated water bag. We had torrential rains and mud everywhere, but it was wonderful.”
Former SAHC President Michael Andry spent the summers of 1982 and ‘83 as a counselor at TrailRidge Mountain Camp, helping to build the camp’s trails and facilities and guiding youth outdoors.
“We built the trail that connects to the AT and particularly enjoyed the full moon camping trips on Roan’s grassy balds. For two summers, we had a grand old time roaming over those mountains. In fact, it was a major reason I moved to the Asheville area. Hearing about SAHC’s work in the Roan brought back a lot of old memories, so I was happy to become involved with the organization.”