Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

May 20, 2017

Nestled above West Jefferson and Jefferson (two different, adjacent towns) is Mount Jefferson. “Area residents gave the mountain other names until 1952 when Mount Jefferson received its official name.” (*1) Legend has it that slaves would hide in the caves of the mountain as they fled along the Underground Railroad. Thus, as racist people of the South are prone to do, many of the mountain’s “other names” were racially denigrating and horrific. (*2). “The mountain’s current name was chosen in honor of Thomas Jefferson and his father, Peter, who owned land in the area and surveyed the nearby North Carolina-Virginia border in 1749.” (*1)

Today, we visited our second N.C. Park in the Passport Program. Roughly 35 minutes from downtown Boone, the Park has 6 total trails, with 5 miles of hiking available. It’s a small park, but the mountaintop greenery is quite wonderful. “Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is a botanical paradise. The slopes and summit of the mountain are home to a diverse population of trees, shrubs and wildflowers. This large variety of interesting and unusual plants qualified the area for designation as a national natural landmark by the National Park Service in 1974.” (*3).

Since Ramona was not feeling well, only Alice, Emily and I made the trek. We parked at the picnic area near the summit. Essentially there are two loop hikes along the ridge line, Lost Provision Trail and Rhododendron Trail. We started hiking towards the Lost Provision Trail, immersing under the green canopy of the forest. Red maple, yellow birch, and tulip tree spread amongst the floor, the trail delicately winding through the terrain. We took our time, stopping to investigate millipedes, watching the bees whiz by.

We did not see many people until Luther Rock, a great view of the surrounding area. I have to say, Lost Provision Trail is one of my favorites. It’s not but 1.1 miles, but it is an impactful, immersive experience.

Total mileage is 2.35 miles.

(*1) https://www.ncparks.gov/mount-jefferson-state-natural-area/history

(*2) Inscoe, John C. (1 December 2001). Appalachians and Race: The Mountain South from Slavery to Segregation. University Press of Kentucky. p. 31

(*3) https://www.ncparks.gov/mount-jefferson-state-natural-area/ecology

 


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