Sandy Mush Bald Area

The Appalachian Trail is 8 miles west of us, and we encourage AT hikers to consider us a a part of their journey. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you are a through hiker seeking a shuttle service to the Cabins at Sandy Mush Bald. Forty-five minutes east of us is the wonderful mountain town of Asheville, a well known east coast hub of arts, culture, community and sustainability. Our area has some of the best day hikes in the southeast, as well as waterfalls, springs, rocks, rafting, music, breweries, and art galleries a’plenty. Perhaps you’ll even be lucky enough to run into a northbound or southbound Appalachian Trail hiker who will let you in on the secret of the hot springs.

About the Sandy Mush Balds (courtesy of Wikipedia)
The character and distribution of Appalachian balds remained stable from the time the first naturalists penetrated the region, until forestry regulations no longer permitted annual pasturing of local cattle. How and why a summit develops into a grassy bald is unknown; they represent “an ecological enigma and a conservation dilemma”. Weigl and Knowles note that “the presence of both rare, endemic plants and northern relicts requiring open habitat suggests a long evolutionary history” and offer a scenario in which grazing pressure of the giant herbivores of the Pleistocene retained the open tundra habitat as the Wisconsin glaciation retreated far to the north. With the arrival of the paleoindians and the disappearance of the megaherbivores, grazing pressure was maintained by deer and elk, and then by the grazing animals of European settlers. Some recent studies have attempted to uncover the vegetation history of some balds through analysis of the soil’s organic component, since grasses leave a characteristic carbon-13 fingerprint.While there is some evidence that grassy balds have natural origins, the forest quickly started to reclaim the balds once large-scale livestock grazing was eliminated by the creation of national parks and national forests. Grassy balds such as Gregory Bald and Andrews Bald in the Great Smokies and the balds in the Roan Highlands are currently maintained as bald areas by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.