Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Headwaters State Forest: A Conservation Laboratory
North Carolina’s newest state forest was founded in 2018 and represents another iconic destination in Transylvania County. In terms of beauty and features, it’s on par with Pisgah, DuPont and Gorges. However, its remote location and limited access make it a more appropriate destination for adventurers with good wilderness and map-reading skills. We caught up with Assistant Regional Forester Michael Cheek, who oversees this 6,730 acre mountain wonderland for the North Carolina Forest Service to help us understand the importance of Headwaters and the opportunities for visitors to enjoy its unique topography and features — especially as we celebrate North Carolina’s “Year of the Trail.”
Michael, what’s distinctive about Headwaters?
What’s the key mission of Headwaters State Forest?
When you talk about diversity, what do you mean?
Headwaters has been described as a “backcountry” destination. What does that mean?
What kind of recreational opportunities exist in Headwaters?
Do these restrictions stem from your conservation mission?
What are some easy ways that visitors access Headwaters?
Finally, what are your favorite parts of Headwaters, Michael?
To get your bearings in Headwaters State Forest, consult this map.
Directions to Sassafras Mountain: Use this GPS address: 1399 F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway, Sunset, SC 29685
Directions to Morgan Place Trailhead: From the intersection of Main St. and Broad Street in downtown Brevard, drive south on US 276 7.4 miles to East Fork Road. Take a right and continue on East Fork Road for 5.9 miles. Take a hard left onto Glady Fork. Continue 3.5 miles. The parking lot will be on the left.
Know before you go:
Only hunting, fishing and hiking are allowed.
Dogs must be on a leash.
During hunting season, wear a blaze orange vest for safety.
The area in and around Headwaters has spotty to no cell service.
If you hike, hunt or fish alone, let someone know your plans before setting out.
Carry an accurate map and a compass for direction finding.
Most trails are not marked.
There are no restrooms.
Be sure to bring adequate water and food.