T H E
M O U N T A I N
Brown Mountain is one of the last formations as the Blue Ridge Mountains submit to the flat Piedmont region. It stands in the Pisgah National Forest, near Morganton, on the border of Burke and Caldwell Counties, in western North Carolina. Brown Mountain is a small peak with a ridge that runs along the horizon beside it. The peak is 2,750 feet, while the ridge stands around 2,600 feet. On the surface, they appear as ordinary as any rise of land in the surrounding mountains.
A portion of the mountain is home to the Pisgah National Forest’s only ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) trails. These extremely rugged paths loop for miles on and around the mountain. It is one of the country’s most exhilarating parks for dirt bike and 4-wheeler enthusiasts.
Hikers can enjoy the rest of the area, with the exception of a patch of private property. There is a Forest Service road that leads toward the ridge. However, it’s blocked by a locked gate—used only by the Forest Service.
The backside of the mountain is quite lush. Scenic streams rush through the crags, cutting mighty gapes through the mountain boulders. There are ferns, mushrooms, mosses, and other signs of moist life. However, as one ascends the mountain, the moisture dwindles. Many of the trees on the mountainside look sparse and dead, perhaps suffering from acid rain.
The ridge is primarily composed of ordinary “cranberry granite.” It contains sandstone, quartz, and mica. Iron and magnetite have also been found on the mountain.
The area around Brown Mountain is a black bear reserve, and it’s also well known for copperheads, one of the most deadly snakes in the country. The Brown Mountain area is extremely rugged, and it’s not uncommon for hikers and bikers in the area to die from accidents. The side of the ridge is covered with slick rock faces, especially treacherous when covered with water or fallen leaves. One of the biggest reasons the lights are still is mystery is because it’s so dangerous and difficult to navigate the ridge and surrounding land.
Nonetheless, during the daytime, from a distance, the ridge appears quite insignificant. But at night, it can sometimes steal the spotlight from any other formation in the Appalachians.