Trail of Tears
Located within the Cherokee Indian Reservation, the Plott Balsam
mountains can be observed from overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Colonel William Thomas purchased this land from the US government
for the Cherokees in 1880. Since then the tribe has been responsible
for the stewardship of this unspoiled mountain range. After the
Trail of Tears, the deadly march that forced the Cherokees westward
in 1838-39, a small group remained and were "given" a
lease on the land that is now part of the Cherokee Reservation.
In order to continue their stay on this property they were required
to purchase it.
This group of mountains range from 2000 to over 5000 feet in elevation.
There are several stands of Balsam Firs at the higher elevations,
some suffering the ill effects of increasingly poor air quality.
These firs are typically observed in the boreal forests of Southern
Canada. As the glaciers of the Ice Age retreated northward, these
forests were left behind at the higher elevations forming "Islands
in the sky". Although these firs are sensitive to air pollution
and adelgids (non-native insects) the Cherokee Forest Service has
done an excellent job of preserving the remaining stands. Another
success story of The Cherokee's stewardship is their effective wild
hog abatement program. The havoc that the non-native species is
wreaking in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, just next door,
is not occurring on the reservation.
come as a surprise to anyone that the Cherokees place a high priority
on the preservation of their forests.
Views form the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A highly recommended
trail to observe these beautiful views is the Waterrock Knob Trail
at milepost 451. Climb the trail at the east side of the parking
lot to a summit of 6400'. The paved trail turns into a rocky climb
of about a half of a mile. The extensive views of the Smokies and
the Plott Balsams are worth the effort.
Pull in at the overlooks of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost
451 to the end of the Parkway near the entrance of the Great Smoky
Mountain National Park. The best views of the Plott Balsams are
best observed between Milepost 451 and milepost 465. An easy access
point is the entrance of the Parkway near Maggie Valley, NC. at
Socco Gap. This is approximately a 1 hour drive from Asheville,
Map it from
your house with MapQuest>>>>