A Vision for Waterrock Knob on the Parkway

John Manuel on the MST

What is your vision for Waterrock Knob, a high point and small park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 451.2?

For years, Carolina Mountain Club worked on extending the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on both sides of Waterrock Knob. Finally in June, 2016, we had a big celebration with several state and federal dignitaries. And CMC went on to work on other sections of trail.

Now the Blue Ridge Parkway, with the help of several conservancies, has been able to protect more land around the original knob.  What does the public want to do with it? So National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation held an open house in Waynesville to find out.

JD Lee, Superintendent of BLRI

When I walked in, I was greeted by a Foundation employee who asked me to sign in and gave me a strip of six “sticky” dots.

“Walk around the room and place the dots where you think the Waterrock Knob area should focus on.”

The Folkmoot Friendship Center, where the event was held, was decorated with large posters displaying different themes of the Waterrock Knob vision: recreation, preservation, heritage, and tourist and economic development.

The first theme I encountered was recreation. In large print, it said:

Engage with South Beyond 6000 Peak Bagging Program to Understand the Current Program.

Wow! That’s Carolina Mountain Club’s program. The smaller print said:

Work with Carolina Mountain Club to determine how the program should be promoted in the Waterrock Knob region that has several 6000 foot+ elevation peaks.

A little above, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail was mentioned.

Consider using the Mountains-to-Sea Trail as the spine of the regional trail system that connects all communities.

One of the Recreation vision

On post-its, you could write out your vision. Here’s mine:

Build campsites about 10 to 15 miles apart from Heintooga Rd to Stone Mountain State Park on the MST – by volunteers, of course – so hikers can backpack the MST easily and legally. Now, camping is only available in a few designated campgrounds.

I met JD Lee, the incoming superintendent and asked him what his vision and his priorities are:

  • Work with stake holders, volunteers and the community. It takes a village to care for the Parkway.
  • Engage the millennial generation. Every national park employee says that.

If you missed the open house, you can still send in comments. Here’s how:

Additional comments specific to the NPS approach to large landscape collaborative management for lands at Waterrock Knob are also welcome via the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/waterrockknobvisionplan.

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