Longstreet Highroad Guide to the North Carolina Mountains
By Lynda McDaniel
[Fig. 8(10)] On land deeded to the state by Judge T. B. Finley in 1926, Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest serves as a 1,780-acre haven for the flora and fauna living within its woodlands. It opened to the public in 1984 as one of six educational forests in North Carolina.
With the support of the Friends of Rendezvous, the trails are being developed for a 50 mile multi-use trail system. Activities will be expanded in 2003, adding mountain biking and horseback riding to the hiking and educational programs. There is also a new website, http://takeoff.to/rendezvous.
Rendezvous Mountain takes its name from a legend dating back to the Revolutionary War. As local legend has it, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland rallied his militia of mountain patriots from its summit before leading them on to a decisive victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain (See Overmountain Trail, page 78). On an immense trumpet scaled to the size of its owner, himself an imposing 300 pounds, Cleveland blew long blasts facing north, south, east, and west, and then he watched as his men in the valleys below saddled their horses and galloped toward the mountain. It was said that the strength of the trumpet's blast was such that the sound echoed and reechoed until it finally broke on the Blowing Rock, some 30 miles west.
Rendezvous's small but commanding peak lies at the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge escarpment, in the foothills that separate the Blue Ridge Mountains from the gentle rolling hills of the Piedmont. Rendezvous rises to its narrow summit at the southeastern extremity of Judd Mountain, a larger mountain mass that forms a steep ridge between the Reddies River and the Lewis Fork Creek, both tributaries of the Yadkin River. This ridged rock formation, known to geologists as the Alligator Back Formation, was uplifted and thrust westward in mountain-making collisions more than 570 million years ago.
The same steep terrain that made the spot ideal for a military rendezvous also restricted timbering in the area. Undisturbed by man, a natural forest community of hardwoods flourished with oaks, yellow-poplars, red maples, hickories, and dogwoods, some now more than 200 years old and measuring 30 inches in diameter. Under this canopy, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, pink lady slipper, columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and, more rarely, ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), bloom in early and late spring. Wild turkeys and ruffed grouse, many varieties of warblers, and indigo buntings make their home in the forest with the occasional white-tailed deer and black bear crashing through the brush.
A highlight of Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest is its Talking Tree Trail, where trees "tell" their own (recorded) stories, from their fears about forest fires to the history of their site. A Forest Demonstration Trail offers a scenic introduction to forestry practices. Ranger-conducted programs are also available to groups visiting the forest.
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