Bob's Creek State Natural Area
About the Park
Located in McDowell County 42 miles east of Asheville, Bob's Creek State Natural Area covers more than 6,000 acres of sheltered covers and ravines, unique rock formations, and diverse natural ecosystems in the foothills. Conservation and low-impact recreation are paramount for the protection of numerous streams in the river basins of the Broad and the Catawba and the preservation of rare species that have been documented by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.
When Will Bob's Creek Open?
The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation continues to work on providing public access to Bob's Creek, while engaging the local community in volunteer and other support opportunities. Bob's Creek will be a keystone in the development of the Wilderness Gateway State Trail, which will provide access to wilderness areas in Bob's Creek and Chimney Rock and South Mountains state parks to the foothills urban areas of Hickory and Valdese. Trails and parking areas at Bob's Creek will facilitate passive recreation, such as hiking and wildlife viewing, as well as provide a connection to additional recreational activities along other segments on the WGST.
Bob's Creek State Natural Area was authorized by the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Roy Cooper as a new unit of the state parks system in 2017.
Since then, the NC Division of Parks and Recreation and the Foothills Conservancy worked to acquire land for the park in three phases: the first two phases acquired about 3,700 acres in 2019, and the third and final phase added 2,249 acres in early 2022.
Conservationist Tim Sweeney was the land's former owner and donated a large fraction of the property's value in the sales. Funding for the land acquisition was provided by the:
- North Carolina Clean and Water Management Fund
- North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
- Open Space Institute's Resilient Landscapes Initiative
- Conservation Trust for North Carolina
- Conservation Fund
- North Carolina Land and Water Fund
- federal Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Cannon Foundation
- conservationists Fred and Alice Stanback
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
As the land purchases were finalized, the NC Natural Heritage Program conducted biological inventories.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in June 2022, with Governor Cooper and Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson in attendance.
Bob's Creek State Natural Area covers more than 6,000 acres in the North Carolina foothills. Park elevation varies from the valleys to peaks like Huntsville and Pogue mountains, ranging about 1,500 feet. A series of sheltered coves and ravines with unique rock formations encompasses the area.
Like nearby South Mountains State Park, natural communities found at the park include chestnut oak forest, montane oak-hickory forest, rich and acidic cove, montane cliffs, and rock outcrops. An inventory conducted by the NC Natural Heritage Program found 14 species of rare plants and animals, including various types of bryophytes, sweet white trillium, and Appalachian golden-banner.
Clear streams that flow into important watersheds, like Muddy Creek and North Creek, line the landscape and are part of the Catawba and Broad river basins. These riparian environments provide drinking water for western North Carolina and create a protected habitat and movement corridor between South and Blue Ridge mountains and the Chimney Rock wilderness area.
Top Image: Hemlock Falls at Bob's Creek State Natural Area, B. Bockhahn