Cold Mountain (North Carolina)

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Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain from Mount Pisgah Overlook, Oct 2016.jpg
Cold Mountain as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Highest point
Elevation6,030 ft (1,840 m)
Prominence990 ft (300 m)
Coordinates35°24′34″N 82°51′22″W / 35.40944°N 82.85611°W / 35.40944; -82.85611
LocationHaywood County, North Carolina, U.S.
Parent rangeGreat Balsam Mountains
Topo mapUSGS Cruso
Easiest routeHike

Cold Mountain falls in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States.[1] The mountain is one of the Great Balsam Mountains which are a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains within the Appalachian Mountains. Cold Mountain and the Shining Rock Wilderness surrounding it are part of Pisgah National Forest.

Cold Mountain is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of Waynesville and 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Asheville. It rises to 6,030 feet (1,840 m) above sea level and is the 40th tallest mountain in the eastern United States.[2] The peak is accessible only via an extremely strenuous branch of the Art Loeb Trail with a 10.6 miles (17.1 km) round trip and an elevation change of 2,800 feet (850 m).[3]

The vast majority of Cold Mountain falls within federal lands of the Shining Rock Wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest. However. portions of the mountain, including approximately 800 acres (324 ha) of northwestern Cold Mountain in Panther Branch, are privately owned. There are about 15 residences on the northwest side of mountain and maintenance of access roads is funded by property owners.

In 2016 the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy purchased the 162 acres (66 ha) Dix Creek tract from private owners.[4] The land was transferred to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in late October 2016 and will increase the adjoining Cold Mountain Game Lands to 3,500 acres (1,416 ha) in 2017.


Much of the Forest was originally owned by George Washington Vanderbilt II, builder of the Biltmore Estate. After his death, his widow sold the land that included the mountain to the United States Forest Service at $5 an acre to help create the Pisgah National Forest as the first National Forest in the eastern United States.

Major General Paul Wurtsmith was killed along with four other crewmen when the TB-25J Mitchell he was piloting (c/n 44-30227) crashed 200 feet (61 m) below the summit of Cold Mountain on September 16, 1946. Wurtsmith Air Force Base was renamed in memorial in 1953. Lt. Col. F. L. Trickey, Lt. Col. P. R. Okerbloom, Master Sergeant Hosey W. Merritt, and Staff Sergeant Hoyt W. Crump were also killed in the crash. In April 1989 the engines from the crashed bomber were airlifted from the crash site and returned to Wurtsmith AFB by a small volunteer group of base personnel with the intent of creating a memorial for the crewmen. Due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances, that included a previous fatal KC-135 crash in October 1988, the transfer and retirement of the volunteers, the Gulf war, and the 1993 closure of the base, the planned memorial to Gen Wurtsmith and those who were killed in the 1946 crash was never realized and the fate of the engines is not known. However, in 2006 Veteran Memorial Park of Northeast Michigan was created at an existing flag circle on the former base.

In popular culture[edit]

The mountain and the township Community of Bethel area outside of Canton near the base of Cold Mountain was made famous as the story location in the 1997 novel Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Contrary to popular belief, there has never been a village or town called Cold Mountain nor a settlement on the real-life mountain. The peak is accessible only by hiking a spur of the strenuous Art Loeb Trail.

A major motion picture based on the novel was distributed by Miramax Films in 2003. The movie was actually filmed in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. A Miramax Films spokesperson cited higher production costs however director Anthony Minghella had said that the lack of old-growth forests and period buildings as well as the lack of dependable snowfall were the primary reasons he chose not to film in Western North Carolina.[5][6] A 2015 opera production followed.

Cold Mountain Hunter a 2004 paperback by L. D. Griffin details hunting experiences and memories of growing up in the Cold Mountain area and Shining Rock Wilderness.

Cold Mountain Bomber Crash: The Enduring Legacy is a 2005 paperback by Doris Rollins Cannon that explores the author's research about the 1946 B-25 crash that killed Major General Wurtsmith and the impact that the loss had on the families of the crewmen and the residents of two of the communities most affected.

At the Foot of Cold Mountain: Sunburst and the Universalists at Inman's Chapel is a 2008 paperback authored by Phyllis Inman Barnett. The book provides a brief history of the Bethel Township community of Canton and the logging community of Sunburst and of rural Universalism. The book follows the life of a Universalist family in The Cold Mountain area from the early 1850s until the Inman Chapel closed in 1957.

Legends, Tales, & History of Cold Mountain (Volumes I-VI) is a six-volume series of The Pigeon Valley Heritage Collection. The books are authored by Evelyn M. Coltman and are distributed by the Bethel Rural Community Organization. In 2012, the six volumes were awarded the prestigious Barringer Award of Excellence by the North Carolina Society of Historians.[7]

Cold Mountain inspired Cold Mountain Winter Ale a seasonal craft beer by Highland Brewing Company of Asheville, NC. Highlands Brewing Company seasonal beers are named for parts of the Southern Appalachian landscape. The "For Love of Beer & Mountains" program is a partnership with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The partnership was formed to support conservation efforts, heighten awareness of unique mountain peaks, natural features, and native species and a portion of sales goes toward support conservation efforts.[8]

The North Carolina bluegrass band Unspoken Tradition use a topographical map of the mountain and area around it for the cover of their 2018 single, 'Dark Side of the Mountain'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cold Mountain
  2. ^ "East Beyond 6000: List of Mountains in the East Above 6,000 Feet". Archived from the original on June 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  3. ^ Did you Know? Cold Mountain and B-25 Bomber crash. Asheville Citizen-Times; Asheville, North Carolina; April 3, 2008; Page 78.
  4. ^ Chávez, Karen (June 24, 2016). "More Cold Mountain land conserved". Citizen Times. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  5. ^ Bixler, Mark (December 26, 2003). "North Carolina got cold shoulder from `Cold Mountain'". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  6. ^ "Real Cold Mountain not what you saw on screen". USA Today. Associated Press. January 19, 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
  7. ^ Bethel Rural Community Organization; Legends, Tales & History of Cold Mountain (Vol. I-VI); Details of all Volumes. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  8. ^ "For Love of Beer & Mountains Partnership". Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Retrieved November 7, 2016.

Coordinates: 35°24′34″N 82°51′22″W / 35.409444°N 82.856111°W / 35.409444; -82.856111

External links[edit]