December 26, 2019
The Wilderness Act of 1964 is perhaps the most important and poetic laws in the United States. It was and remains revolutionary. In a capitalistic model, we have set aside land to be untouched, undeveloped. Unlike the stringent legal language of most regulations the law defines its purposes as:”[a] wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Since the inception of the Wilderness Act over 55 years ago, new wilderness areas are proposed yearly, yet few gain the significant protections the law offers. In 1984, the Lost Cove area was proposed for protection, yet became a Wilderness Study Area (WSA). According to one source I found, this was in part due to the possibility of uranium in the terrain. The WSA status does afford many of the protections of the wilderness designation, however, three (3) different efforts to solidify that status have been rebuffed by the U.S. Senate.
The Lost Cove WSA is awe-inspiring. Located in Avery County, just outside of the town of Linville and Jonas Ridge, one will find 5,934 acres of tough, gorgeous terrain. The WSA extends from an area just east of Hwy. 181 north towards the Blue Ridge Parkway and east towards the tiny village of Edgemont.
The Big Lost Cove Cliffs trail is a nice 1.7 mile track that is rated as easy. Hiking out-and-back, I only registered a total of 832 ft. elevation gain. The first .4 miles are fairly steep, but the trail soon levels out and is very gradual ridge walking. The end of the trail is nothing short of breathtaking with stellar views for 180 degrees of Beacon Heights and Grandfather Mountain. On top of the cliffs, ancient pine trees, gnarled and toughened by time grow seemingly from the rock itself. I highly recommend this easily accessible trail.
Total mileage is 3.4 miles.