Tags: wayah bald
"Over the years, use of the Arrowood Glade picnic area has fallen off to the point where it is no longer viable for the agency to continue operating the facility as it has in the past," Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins says in the release. "The Forest Service is considering re-opening the area to small groups, on a reservation-only basis for a fee, but we also want to hear ideas from the public and preferences for use of the aging facility."
The roadside attraction has fallen into disrepair in recent years, mostly due to a backlog of deferred maintenance. It was to open April 1 but remains closed. If the Forest Service decides to open the picnic area, "repairs to the bathrooms and other features will be considered," the release says.
The picnic area is a few miles east of Wayah Bald, a well-known day use site with a historic fire tower that provides panoramic views of the Smoky and Unicoi mountains, and picnic grounds.
If you have ideas or comments, mail them by June 15 to Wilkins at: Nantahala Ranger District, 90 Sloan Road, Franklin, NC 28734.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy reports in its e-mailed newsletter that the historic Wayah Bald lookout tower restoration is complete and the tower has officially re-opened.
Wayah Bald (elev. 5,385 feet) is near Franklin in the Nantahala National Forest. The Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail cross the day-use area, which features the lookout tower first constructed by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The 50-foot tower, below, affords views of the Smoky and Unicoi mountains of the Nantahala and Little Tennessee valleys.
The tower was closed in November 2009 for safety concerns due to its deteriorating condition. Not only has the tower had a makeover, the ATC says, but there are new pathways, a new restroom and new accessible parking as well.
"ATC’s Laurie Potteiger notes that deep in the heart of the southern Appalachians are magnificent A.T. 'peak' experiences that require little more effort than turning off your vehicle’s motor, silencing your cell phone, and stretching your legs," the article says.
Potteiger visits Wayah Bald, with its "expansive views of rows and rows of other pristine mountains in the distance," Clingman’s Dome, at 6,643 feet the highest peak on the A.T., which features "a large concrete observation tower with a circular ramp that provides spectacular 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park," and Roan Mountain, where "flower lovers make the pilgrimage to see one of the most notable displays anywhere in world" when wild rhododendron blooms in June.
Though some of the A.T. at Roan Mountain is inaccessible most of this summer as the day use area is renovated, hikers can still access the mountain from nearby Carver’s Gap, Potteiger says.