The Amphibolites are a series of mountains composed of amphibolite gneiss; they include the Peak, Bluff,
Rich and Snake Mountains, Mt. Jefferson, Phoenix Mountain, Three Top, and Elk Knob. Peak elevations are about 1,525 m (5,003 feet) for most of the mountain tops; Snake Mountain reaches 1,697 m (5,566 feet) at its highest point. The area also includes the State Significant Natural
Area of Long Hope Valley, lying between Elk Knob and the Peak.

Ornithological Summary

This site supports significant populations of neotropical migrant songbirds, species of conservation concern and Watchlist species. The site supports the largest concentration of Vesper Sparrows in North Carolina, along with significant numbers of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Canada Warblers, and Black-billed Cuckoo. A remnant stand of spruce-fir supports Northern Saw-whet Owl, Magnolia Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Golden-winged Warblers and their hybrids (and a recent second breeding season record of Blue-winged Warbler) occur here in the western drainages of Watauga and Ashe Counties. An estimated 15% of the known territories are held by hybrids. Approximately 65 pairs of Golden-wings have been documented here, qualifying it for Global Conservation Status

Conservation Issues

Water quality, logging, and residential and commercial development on private lands, loss of early-successional habitats.

Loss of important habitats to residential or commercial development is a key issue. Reforestation of
agricultural areas will result in declines of some high-priority species, such as Golden-winged Warbler.


The site includes Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, Elk Knob State Park, and tracts on Paddy and Bluff Mountains protected by The Nature Conservancy. The North Carolina Plant Conservation Network also has
significant holdings in the range. A significant portion of the land is in private ownership (over 90 percent).


Northern hardwood forest, xeric oak forest, mixed mesophytic forest, grassy balds, mountain bogs, spruce forest.

Land Use

Conservation, recreation, hunting, fishing, residential development, grazing, and Christmas tree production.

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