In autumn, the forest slopes and ridgetops of Poor Mountain are brightened by the brilliant yellow foliage of piratebush. Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve protects the world's largest population of this globally rare shrub, which is restricted to only a handful of sites in the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The mountain is named for its impoverished soils weathered from metamorphosed sandstone bedrock. The ridgetop, 3,000 feet in elevation, is predominantly a xeric Table Mountain pine and oak woodland. Piratebush is a dominant understory shrub in this community along with huckleberry and blueberry. Piratebush is also found with mountain laurel in the hemlock ravines and mesic pine forests of the lower elevations.
Public access facilities include a 10 car parking area. When the parking lot is full, the natural area preserve is full, and you will need to wait for a spot to open or come back another time. There are over 4 miles of hiking trails. Trails include a relatively easy 1.0-mile loop through the piratebush population and a steep and strenuous 4-mile loop that takes several hours to complete.
Part or all of the preserve may be periodically closed for resource protection or prescribed burning activities. Please call before visiting.
- Family Friendly
Last Updated: 07/01/2020