Hogback Mountain is the southeastern-most protrusion of the Blue Ridge Mountain Escarpment in northwestern SC. The Blue Wall Heritage Preserve is included in this IBA. Underlain by granite/gneiss, about 1% is exposed rock. The south-facing slope is laced with small streams which feed the South Pacolet River in the Broad River Watershed. The north side is heavily forested with cove hardwoods and hemlock-rhododendron, dropping down to Poinsett Reservoir and the North Saluda River (Saluda River Watershed). A 4-mile segment of the Palmetto Trail ascends the Blue Ridge Escarpment, following a branch of Vaughn's Creek to Vaughn's Gap (at 2676') north of Hogback Mtn. (3240'). The trail passes Twin Ponds where beavers and waterfowl are found in lower, more recently disturbed areas. Follwing an old roadbed from the early 20th century, the trail enters Big Woods at an old homesite with an old field and a stand of Virginia pines. The trail becomes progressively steeper and the forest increasingly more mature. The cove hardwood forest has trees 75-100 years old. The trail crosses a stream and abundant, still healthy (as of Dec. 2005), Canada Hemlock as well as spectacular displays of rosebay (maximum) and dwarf (minus) rhododendron. A great diversity of plants and animals associated with cove hardwood and hemlock-rhododendron abounds.

Ornithological Summary

A great variety of neo-tropical migrants move through/nest in Hogback Mountain IBA. There are 15 species associated with a rare and unique habitat, mountain cove forest. Swainson's Warbler, a WatchListed species, nests here.

Conservation Issues

The threat of the hemlock wooly adelgid is enormous. At the end of 2005, no infestation was evident, however, this introduced pest is moving west to east in the South Carolina mountains. The proximity of Greenville/Spartanburg (25-30 miles) always presents a possible threat of adjacent development.

Ownership

The Hogback Mountain IBA includes the Blue Wall Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, land owned by Naturaland Trust and an Upstate Forever Easement and the Landrum, SC Watershed.

Habitat

Hogback Mountain, 3240 feet, is the southeastern-most protrusion of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. Underlain by granite/gneiss, about 1% is exposed rock. The south-facing slope is laced with small streams which feed the South Pacolet River (Broad River Watershed). The north side is heavily forested with cove hardwoods and hemlock-rhododendron forest, dropping down to Poinsett Reservoir and North Saluda River (Saluda River Watershed). The IBA is primarily deciduous cove hardwood forest and secondarily hemlock-rhododendron forest, however the wooly adelgid is killing all the hemlocks in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is just reaching into the SC mountains.
The alternate-leaved dogwood is found here, but is rare in acidic cove hardwood forests.
The Mole Salamander, previously thought to be in the NC mountains only, is found on Hogback Mountain.
The timber rattlesnake has been eliminated by extensive deforestation.
Though seldom seen, the black bear has an increasing population.

Land Use

Hogback Mountain IBA is primarily a wildlife conservation/natural area/lan trust and secondarily the water supply for the town of Landrum, SC.

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