Friends of Big Ivy has led a coalition of organizations that support an expanded Craggy Mountain Wilderness Area and Backcountry Area. The plan has been unanimously endorsed by Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Over 100 businesses and organizations support the proposal. And the Forest Service has received over 5,000 letters in support of the Craggy/Big Ivy Wilderness and Scenic Recreation Area—the most comments they have received for any area of the national forest.

Only 19 miles from downtown Asheville, the Craggy/Big Ivy Wilderness will be the first and only wilderness in Buncombe County.

The wilderness recommendation will not affect any current uses of Big Ivy. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing will all continue to be allowed. No roads or trails will be closed to anyone. The wilderness recommendation will simply prohibit logging and development in trail-less, high-elevation areas of Big Ivy where most of the old-growth forests are located.

We want to keep Big Ivy just the way it is – wild, scenic, adventurous, and uncut.




What is wilderness?

Wilderness prohibits logging and protects the forest’s natural ecosystems. Wilderness allows hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, trail running, climbing, swimming, backpacking, and most other forms of non-mechanized recreation.

Will mountain biking still be allowed in Big Ivy?

Yes. All of the existing mountain biking trails in Big Ivy will remain open. They will be included in the backcountry management area outside of the wilderness. Mountain biking in Big Ivy will be unaffected by wilderness recommendation.

Can I hunt and fish in wilderness?

Yes! Some of the best hunting and fishing are in wilderness areas because wilderness protects clean water and healthy forests.

Can I still gather ramps, morels, and herbs in Big Ivy?

Yes! Gathering herbs, morels, and ramps is a cultural tradition in Big Ivy. All of Big Ivy’s backcountry and roads will remain open for wildcrafting. Permits are required for commercial gathering on all Forest Service lands.

Why should most of Big ivy be recommended for wilderness?

Big Ivy is one of the most significant areas of biological diversity on public lands in Southern Appalachia. Big Ivy contains the third-highest density of rare species on the Pisgah-Nantahala and over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest, one of the largest patches of old-growth in the East. Part of a 100,000-acre block of protected lands—one of the largest in the East—Big Ivy is a rare and precious living legacy, with big trees, big mountains, and big waterfalls.  There is no better place for primitive recreation and solitude amid untrammeled forests than Big Ivy.

What parts of Big Ivy will NOT be recommended for wilderness?

The trail network and Forest Road 74 will be recommended for backcountry management rather than wilderness.

What is a Backcountry Area?

A Backcountry Area is less permanent and less prohibitive than wilderness. Mountain bikes and even some logging are permitted; it also allows wildcrafting, gathering firewood, and most other traditional uses of the forest. Overall, the backcountry area emphasizes recreation, intact forests, and scenery.

Isn’t Congress required to designate wilderness?

Yes. Only Congress can officially designate wilderness. But wilderness areas recommended by the Forest Service are managed as if they are official wilderness until Congress votes to designates them.

What is the Craggy Mountain Wilderness Study Area?

The Craggy Mountain Wilderness Study Area was recommend for wilderness designation by the Forest Service in 1982 and is awaiting Congressional approval.

What’s the difference between wilderness and a wilderness study area?

A wilderness study area is an area recommended for wilderness by the Forest Service but not yet approved by Congress.  It is managed as if it were an official wilderness.